I’ve talked before about the challenges of making sure my kids eat healthy foods. Kids are naturally picky. And if your child has food allergies or sensory integration disorder, food can be a major challenge. One trick in my arsenal of sneaky mom foods is smoothies.
Smoothies are basically the healthy cousin of milkshakes. Who doesn’t love a milkshake?
When my kids were small and picky I made smoothies as a “treat” to get more nutrition into them. They are especially great for kids with sore throats. A good cold smoothie is right up there with soup for good foods for when you are sick. It packs a punch of vitamin C and more to boost their immune system.
Recently though, one of my kids got braces. So we returned to smoothies in full force. He was struggling to chew enough food with his sore mouth to feel full. He is going through a growth spurt and needs to eat like a teenage boy! Because he is one. So, we had to find a way to get more calories in his day despite the braces.
Smoothies to the rescue!
I’m not one of those people who try to sneak in spinach or kale to our smoothies. I trust the fruits and milk or juice I use to cover the vitamins portion of this healthy treat.
My favorite easy trick is to slice bananas and freeze them in serving sizes. My family likes about a half of a frozen banana per serving, so those go in the freezer in containers or ziplock bags I can easily grab. Frozen bananas give the smoothie a milkshake-like texture. If you prefer a thinner shake, use your bananas at room temperature.
I then add my favorite frozen fruits. A half-cup of blueberries, strawberries, or pineapple chunks are all favorites here. Or use them all, it is up to you. If your child has issues with textures, skip the berry mixes, the raspberry and blackberry seeds will not go over well.
Getting It Just Right
Last I add some milk or orange juice. For my growing son, who can digest cow milk, I use that or occasionally a milk product with extra protein. You could opt for any type of milk your family drinks. My youngest prefers chocolate oat milk in her smoothies.
Some milk replacements can result in a funny aftertaste. To combat that, I add a spoonful of honey. Just be sure to add the honey late in the mix, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your blender.
Be sure to blend your smoothie until it is a consistent texture without lumps. This is a case where some extra blending can actually really help that banana to fully integrate and give your smoothie the best possible texture. If it won’t blend well, add more liquid. Getting the ratio of frozen fruit to milk just right can take a little practice and varies depending on your ingredients.
A thick smoothie served with a straw can become its own sensory experience, as your child works their jaw muscles to drink! Win-Win!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.