Whether it's just too hot to cook or you're simply out of time and need dinner on the go, fruit smoothies offer a filling alternative to fast food. Even kids who would rather not eat their veggies will happily drink smoothies, so these nutritionally packed treats are a healthy choice for the whole family.
Before you can make smoothies at home, you need a blender capable of crushing frozen fruit or ice. Options range from costly professional quality appliances to small single-serve blenders, depending upon your needs and budget. Consider how often you make smoothies and the size of your family, as well as everyone's preferences when you buy. If no two people want the same kind of smoothie, a single serve blender may be better than a bigger one.
You can use nearly any fruit in smoothies, and both fresh and frozen fruit will work. Look for ripe fruit for the best flavor or opt for frozen fruit preserved at the peak of freshness. You can even freeze your own fresh fruit to take advantage of sales. Bananas and mango provide a creamy texture, while berries, pineapple and peaches add a punch of flavor.
While fruit is a valuable source of vitamins and antioxidants, adding some protein to your smoothie will help to keep you feeling full. You can opt for yogurt, peanut butter, silken tofu or protein powder in your smoothies. Try pairing peanut butter with bananas for a kid-friendly favorite. Kids may find the flavor of protein powder offensive, so silken tofu or yogurt can be a better choice for their dinner smoothies.
You'll need to add a source of liquid to blend your smoothie together. You can opt for milk, soy milk, almond milk or fruit juice. Milk or milk-alternatives provide valuable calcium and vitamin D, making them ideal for kids. Younger children may also find the familiar flavor of milk more palatable than the tarter taste that comes with fruit juice. If you prefer a sweeter smoothie, try a naturally sweet juice, like pineapple.
Boost the nutritional content of your dinner smoothie by adding vegetables and grains. Spinach is relatively flavorless, making it a good option for kids who think they don't like veggies. Try a spinach, strawberry and yogurt smoothie. Add some more fiber to your smoothie with either flax seed or wheat germ. These ingredients blend well and have a mild taste that kids won't even notice.