Green Smoothies for Children
In the 80s and 90s ‘green’ used to be uncool. At the time when chocolate bars and Mcdonalds were in fashion, I remember being the weirdo who took tupperwares of sweet peas & carrots to school as a snack - needless to say I was laughed at. But I was no angel and was in with the ‘bad guys’ when it was time to make fun of the almost black Pumpernickel sandwiches filled with living nutritious salad & sprouts German kids took to school. We were ‘oh-so-cool’...
Fast forward to 2017 and the world is seeing the light of new eating habits. Juice bars seem to be sprouting in every corner, being vegan is more fashionable than wearing Prada and quinoa and kale have become the name of the game. Green is the new cool and even some my most resistant friends now drink their daily green drinks like their lives depend on it…and in a way, I believe they do ;)
Though not yet a mother, I have always felt a deep fulfilling connection with children. My brother Nuno was born when I was barely 10 which pretty much gave me a first hand experience at caring for a newborn. I bathed, dressed and fed him; I played with him, took him for walks and put him to sleep to the sound of lullabies. He quickly became my first experience of the ‘unconditional love’ adults talk about when they give birth to children.
Being now 35, most of my closest friends and relatives are parents and I have been following their concerns, struggles, dreams and ideals for bringing up their own children in the healthiest possible way. I have observed countless times how difficult it can be for a parent to persuade their child to eat broccoli or spinach. At some point in their short lives ‘green’ seems to bring into life a China wall of resistance and as soon as it is seen, smelled or heard of they’re on the fastest way they can find to Mars.
Having worked in the field of healthy living since 2007, I tried to understand why some children, though, seem to enjoy the ‘weird, adult stuff’ and munch on celery and broccoli, despite their Milka & Oreo loving friends. The inconvenient truth? - SUGAR - Once this exhilarating substance has been allowed through their little mouths their taste quickly becomes corrupted and it is close to impossible to get them to eat anything that doesn’t resemble its sweetness. Deemed as addictive as heroin, refined sugar ruins our capacity to develop taste for other flavours, especially the bitter and the sour.
I still remember my goddaughter’s look when upon turning 1 - and never ever having tasted refined sugar - accidentally smashed her chocolate covered birthday cake with her little hand and in taking it to mouth immediately went into an euphoric trance, her eyeballs popping out like fireworks. But right next to heaven there’s hell: the sugar rush quickly wears off and next thing you know your little angel has turned into a kicking and screaming devil - irritated, annoyed and uncontrollable.
Well, now that green is in fashion, green kids are becoming the cool kids, and green kids’ parents, the coolest parents of all. Given the importance of getting children to eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables packed with nutrients and enzymes that will support their growth and as importantly, their energy and mood, I am dedicating this first One of Us guest post to bringing some light to the ins & outs of getting the little ones hooked on green drinks.
These dessert like concoctions are frankly easy-peasy and even fun to make once you understand the basics. And they are by far the easiest and quickest way to get your child to consume these essential nutrients. You do not need the whole biosphere or cutting edge technology in your kitchen and you can prepare them in a matter of minutes.
We’re responsible for providing our children with the best possible tools for them to grow healthy and happy. Let them teach us Love. Let them teach us how to become more like them again.
The Cool Kid Green-Smoothie Manifesto - PART ONE
(stay tuned for part two + your free manifesto PRINTABLE & scroll down for recipe)
1) CHILDREN BUY WHAT YOU DO, NOT WHAT YOU SAY.
I cannot remember where I read this, so whoever put it so clearly, thank you!
Children learn by example, so if you do not eat or drink greens why would you expect them to? Turn the green revolution into a family revolution. Start drinking your green drinks and most probably your children will be part of the team, but you’ll also thank yourself along the way once you start feeling more energised and light than ever!
2) MAKE THE LITTLE ONES PART OF THE PROCESS.
Children love to be involved and feel they’re an important contribution to most activities. Take them shopping for smoothie ingredients, have them help you in the process of washing and prepping and let them make the drinks with or even better, FOR you. They’ll not only be way more likely to drink them, but you’ll also find that the best helpers and creative minds were right under your roof! In workshops I have given in the past, children - not adults - came up with recipes for the most delicious smoothies ;)
3) Green Smoothie 101 + KEEP IT SIMPLE
In case you’re wondering what the heck a green smoothie is, here’s the simple answer:
FRESH FRUIT + FRESH LEAFY GREENS + WATER (+optional extras such as grains, seeds, superfoods - bear with us for more recipes ;) - all well blended.
In the beginning it will be easier for both adults and children to drink smoothies that contain more fruit than greens and as little ingredients as possible. As time passes, you’ll notice you’ll get used to greens and you can cut on fruit, specially sweeter fruit. If however, you feel groovy by all means try to make more creative combinations.
Start with a small bunch of greens, 1-3 pieces of fruit and enough water to achieve your preferred consistency (the more water, the more liquid the smoothie will be, but also, not as strong in taste).
With toddlers and young children it is important to try one new ingredient at a time. Not only are they developing their taste for new foods - which takes time - it will also give you the opportunity to check whether specific ingredients might cause allergies.
4) KNOW YOUR GREENS (BEGINNER / INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED)
TEST & TRY
I usually define greens by each person’s level of expertise in healthy eating: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Lettuce would be a typical beginner ingredient, whereas wheatgrass would fall into advanced. If you’re just starting out try easy greens such as lettuce or spinach. After a while, have a taste of celery, parsley, coriander or kale.
5) ROTATE YOUR GREENS - from @diospiro's A Taste of Diospiro free ebook
If you drink a green juice everyday, make sure you rotate your greens. Varying the type of green leaf you use in your daily juice ensures that you get a well-rounded and balanced combination of nutrients and a gentle detox. Experiment! Vary! If your chosen recipe for today contains parsley, try one with lettuce or basil tomorrow. To find out more and to get your free ebook click on http://diospiro.com/ebookeng
6) BUY ORGANIC & LOCAL
Non organic foods are highly toxic for ourselves and the environment. Foods that come from the other side of the planet not contribute to pollution, they are also rarely fit for our mind and body when we’re living in a very distinct climate. Every time you shop you are voting with your money. Buy wisely. Buy organic and local where possible! Your body and mind, your children and our planet will thank you!
7) USE FUN GLASSES & STRAWS
Finding fun glasses and straws for kids’ smoothies is way more easy than ever before. Thankfully there are also plenty of eco-friendly versions. Plastic being such a terrible threat on our planet and our animal friends, please refrain from buying plastic straws altogether, even if they seem convenient and cheap. Instead choose from a wide range of materials such as silicone, metal, glass, paper or even better bamboo. Google ‘reusable’, ‘biodegradable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ straws for kids and you’ll find plenty of colourful options. Remember that children love to drink from their favourite glass or cup, so chances are, they’ll sip that green smoothie faster than the blink of your eye.
Many parents start feeding their little ones green smoothies as early as 5-8 months old. While it is safe to do so, you should always ensure this with their health practitioner.
Green smoothies are highly nutritious and can therefore cut on habitual hunger. But they’re not a substitute for breastmilk or infant formula. Green smoothies can however replace a usually refined and processed breakfast of young children (3 years ++) ! Again, be sure to check with your pediatrician.
If your little one develops diarrhoea as an initial reaction to greens and fiber, try adding a banana to your daily mix.
THE SUPERHERO’s MAGIC POTION
Prepping Time: 3-5’
Pineapple - 220g (thick slice)
Avocado - ½ medium sized
Spinach (or your favourite type of Lettuce) - handful
Water - 1-1.5 cups
Optional: Bee Pollen* - 1-2 tsp
Remember to make your children part of the process where possible ;) Peel and cut the pineapple and avocado into chunks. Add all the ingredients to your favourite blender and blend well (you can also use a hand blender - just know the consistency might not be as smooth, but it will work too!) & serve in your little one’s favourite cup. Enjoy the smoothie with them!
FOOD FACT - BEE POLLEN
Pollen is gathered from flowers by bees and mixed with their saliva.
It is a nutritional powerhouse, one of the most complete superfoods on the planet that contains all the essential amino-acids, as well as protein.
Bee Pollen contains quercetin, a natural powerful antioxidant compound that boosts the immune system, longevity, cardiovascular health and ...
Fights allergies - as a anti-histamine agent.
When combined with Pineapple which contains a high amount of the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain its effects are potentiated.
Be sure to check with your health practitioner whether you or your children are allergic to pollen and which type. You might be allergic to a specific local pollen, but actually totally fine with a bee pollen product from a different region.
Beware that bee pollen is NOT a vegan product though, as it is made by bees. If you would like to consume bee pollen anyway, make sure your supplier takes well care of the bees and harvests the pollen through bee friendly and sustainable means ( Know your suppliers, know your foods, buy responsibly!
Now we’d love to hear from you! Do you drink green smoothies? And do you feed them to your little shining stars? What are their favourites? Share your recipes, pictures and ideas! And stay tuned for PART TWO of the Cool Kid Green Smoothie Manifesto on our next Post! Be sure to follow @diospirofoods & @oneofus & if you’d like to stay in the cool green loop, sign up for our newsletters. For Portuguese click here.