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Lunchtime Smoothies

by Maggie McCormick

Though many people associate smoothies with breakfast, that isn't the only time that you can drink them. A smoothie can make a great meal or addition to a meal any time of day. With the drink's sweet taste, it offers the perfect opportunity for you to sneak some extra nutrition into your child's diet. At home or on-the-go, reach for a smoothie at lunch.

Smoothie Ingredients

Smoothies all start with a base, such as water, juice or milk. You then add any type of frozen fruit that you prefer. Your fruit selection will primarily be responsible for the taste of the smoothie. If you're making the smoothie as a meal, add some protein to help sustain you until the next meal. Yogurt, peanut butter, tofu or protein powder all can be delicious additions. Finally, you can add some greens to the smoothie for extra nutrition. Spinach is so mild that you won't notice it's in there -- except for the change in color -- but you may want to include a nutritional powerhouse like kale.

Storing Smoothies

Whether you're sending your kids to school with a lunchtime smoothie or taking one to work with you, you'll have to store it in a cool place. One solution is to use an insulated drink container, which can keep the contents cool for several hours. You can also make the smoothie the night before and keep it in the freezer overnight. By lunchtime, the smoothie will have thawed out perfectly. If you'll be drinking your smoothie several hours after making it, you should note that there may be some discoloration as the fruits in the smoothie turn brown. It will still taste the same, but it won't look as appetizing. To keep fruits like bananas from changing color, brush them with lemon juice before adding them to the smoothie, or use orange juice as the smoothie's liquid base.

Smoothies On-The-Go

For those who prefer fresh smoothies, consider purchasing a small blender or hand-held mixer for preparing your smoothies away from home. You can bring all the frozen ingredients you need in an insulated bag or store them in a refrigerator at the office, then blend your smoothie when it's time for lunch.

Reducing Calories in Smoothies

Since a smoothie is a drink, it's easy to think mistakenly that it's low in calories by default. This isn't necessarily true. High-calorie ingredients like juice, yogurt, protein powder or peanut butter may mean that you're drinking a smoothie that's over 500 calories. Add up the calories of individual ingredients to see how many are in your smoothie. If you need to reduce calories, start by using water or a half-water-half-juice mixture as the base. Then add only the ingredients that you really need. For instance, you don't need both protein powder and yogurt. Choose only one. Adding more greens to the smoothie can help bulk it up without the additional calories.

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