Getting a healthy breakfast together on the fly or a quick lunch between errands isn’t always easy. But we’ve got a solution: a bright, healthy smoothie. They go together quickly in a blender and provide a way to sneak fruit and veggies into your pickiest eaters. Best of all, they feel like a real treat rather than a hasty meal time compromise. If you haven’t been exercising your blender regularly, here are a few bright, colorful choices to get you started.
Nothing adds eye appeal to a smoothie as quickly as bright, colorful berries. If you load your freezer with them when they’re in season or on sale, you’ll always be ready to conjure up a quick breakfast from the blender. Frozen berries can actually be better in a smoothie than fresh, because you don’t need to dilute the mixture with added ice. Mix up a kid-friendly blueberry-pomegranate smoothie. Your youngsters won’t care that it’s loaded with antioxidants, but they’ll love its gloriously purple color. Remember to put on an apron before you start to protect your clothing against splashes and stains.
Break up a medium banana — like the berries, it’s even better if it’s frozen — and drop it into your blender. Add a half-cup each of pomegranate juice and whole blueberries and buzz them in your blender until they’re mixed. Add a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt and process it until the mix is smooth. If you go with plain yogurt the smoothie will be pretty tangy, so you might want to add a spoonful of honey. If your fruit isn’t frozen, add a handful of ice as needed.
Divide the smoothie among sturdy Mason drinking jars and hand them out to the clamoring kids. If you have an oversize blender, you can make larger batches in the same proportions. Otherwise, if you need more portions, just make multiple batches.
A Glass of Sunshine
Purple’s a good breakfast color for kids, but as a grown-up it’s a lot easier to face something with a warmer, sunnier color. Something tropical, maybe, with lots of bright flavors. You’ll want roughly 2 cups of golden-yellow tropical fruits, either fresh or frozen. Choose from sweet pineapple, diced mango, orange segments or really ripe persimmons — whatever is available. Chop the fruit coarsely on your favorite cutting board, and you’re ready to begin.
The orange juice version is more virtuous and has a deeper, warmer color. Whichever one you choose, divide the smoothie among tall, elegant drinking glasses and enjoy the liquid sunshine.
Green smoothies are typically a love ’em or hate ’em proposition. If you’re a booster, you love the option of incorporating healthy green vegetables into a breakfast beverage. If you’re among the unpersuaded, the notion of drinking something green at breakfast might be a difficult pill to swallow. You might find the notion easier to wrap your mind around if you use lime juice as your main flavoring. Lime-flavored foods are often green, so it’s a good way to trick your brain and tummy into going the healthy route.
Break up a medium-sized banana into your blender, along with 2 cups of mild-tasting baby spinach. Add the juice of a lime and a cup of coconut water or half coconut water and half coconut milk. Whiz them together in your blender, with or without added ice, until the mixture is smooth. If you want to make it even heartier and healthier, there’s plenty of “wiggle room” for add-ins. A handful of quick oats adds fiber and makes your smoothie more filling, for example. For protein, add a tablespoon or two of your favorite protein powder or replace part of the coconut milk with Greek-style yogurt. Pour the smoothie into a tall Pilsner glass, where its foaming surface will look right at home.
Sip Some “Feel Good”
Sometimes you might need your smoothie to offer more than a quick pick-me-up. If you’re feeling poorly, whip up a blender full of cold, tasty therapy. A cranberry-orange smoothie fits the bill perfectly. Cranberries are loaded with vitamin C, and ginger’s good for settling your stomach and reducing inflammation. When you put them together, along with a bit of honey to soothe your throat and offset the tartness of the berries, you’ve got a clear winner.
Break up a frozen banana into your blender, along with 1/2 pound of fresh or frozen cranberries and half an orange. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of shredded ginger, 2 or 3 of honey and 1/2 cup of yogurt or coconut milk — probiotic yogurt might be helpful, if you’re really unwell — and process the mixture in your blender until it’s smooth. If you don’t have a frozen banana on hand and aren’t using frozen berries, feel free to add a handful of crushed ice. It’s all good. Pour the tangy, comforting drink into a stemless wine glass, just to make it a little more special. You’ll need all the positive reinforcement you can get with a nasty bug dragging you down.
A Few Quick Tips
One thing to remember when you’re making smoothies is that they’re cold, and that means moisture will probably condense on the outside of the glass and drip onto your table. It’s best to set your glasses on coasters to protect the furniture’s finish. When you’re serving kids, set down the coaster with a flourish and make a production of it. They might not care about the furniture, but they do love feeling special. A well-chosen garnish or two can help, as well. Just keep back a piece or two of the fruit you’ve used in the smoothie and use the fruit to decorate the rim. If you’ve made a smoothie with berries, thread a few of them onto a toothpick or cocktail pick and balance it on the rim.
Now that we’ve talked about some ways to work out your blender, tell us, what are your favorite healthy, kid-friendly smoothie combinations?