The Smoothie Cheat Sheet


My sister-in-law doesn’t eat any processed foods, cooks from scratch, and uses the juice squeezed from oranges to sweeten her hot tea. She pre-cuts the week’s fruit so at breakfast her children can simply pull it out and add what they want to their yogurt.

I am not that kind of mother.

I don’t think about food until the moment I am hungry or my 10-year old is demanding a meal. Which doesn’t mean I don’t care about her health or mine. I do. I’m just not a “foodie” or a person who enjoys food preparation. 

I could eat a tuna fish sandwich for dinner every night for a year without getting bored if I wasn’t worried about our mercury consumption. In some of my less-proud moments, I have actually put mayonnaise right in the can so I don’t have to dirty a bowl. I’ve skipped chopping an onion or cutting a tomato if I’m in a hurry. I’m not exactly a gourmet girl.

So, I have come up with many shortcuts and techniques to get fresh fruits and veggies into our family diet. Maybe my tricks can help you.

Doing the Math

First, I ask my math-minded daughter almost daily how many fruits and vegetables she has had. She has to name them and tell me the color and amount each night. Five different ones is our “minimum,” and seven is the goal we shoot for daily. If either (or both of us) has fallen short, we end the day with a smoothie. 

This is my version of a daily multivitamin (which we also take when we remember), but it comes in the form of fresh food. Our smoothies start with yogurt—whole fat for my lean daughter who needs to gain a few pounds and low or non-fat for me.

We scour the kitchen and add blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries (fresh or frozen depending on time of year and sale prices), as well as oranges, apples, bananas, and vegetables such as spinach and lettuce.

Flavor is not the primary goal though they always taste really good. Our goal is to add color (yellow, orange, red, blue, and green) to the blender and our bodies before we go to bed.

I like to sweeten my smoothies with a little organic peanut butter which, with the yogurt, balances out the natural sugars with protein. I also add flax seed, wheat germ, and apple cider or lemon juice if I have it as well as ice cubes so the texture is thick.

(Note for new smoothie drinkers: skip the wheat germ or flax seed if you're turned off by the gritty texture.) Also, for children (or adults) used to super-sweet, not-so-healthy smoothies, the all-natural homemade ones can taste a little watery. Be aware of who you are serving and add more peanut butter or a scoop of frozen yogurt or a drop of vanilla to make it sweeter.

 If you are a natural in the kitchen, like my sister-in-law, you have probably had your full serving of fruits and veggies by nine a.m. If not, feel free to use my “smoothie cheat” recipe to help you get over your not-yet-green-enough or organic-enough guilt. 

What's your favorite way of "sneaking" more healthy habits into your or your family's day?

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