That’s how I introduced the idea of smoothies to my children. I called them milkshakes to get them to drink them, then after they liked them, corrected my “error.”
According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
- Meet daily nutrient requirements
- Concentrate better
- Have better problem-solving skills
- Have better hand-eye coordination
- Be more alert
- Be more creative
- Miss fewer days of school
- Be more physically active
I know Americans have varied ideas of what makes a breakfast. When I walk my son into school, I usually see doughnut holes and pop tarts with milk. Oh how I cringe. I’m not a jerk or anything. It’s not like my kids can’t ever have doughnuts. They can as a special treat… sometimes… but not for breakfast.
Breakfast sets the scene for the day. It should be loaded with nutrients, healthy fats, whole grains and protein. That’s my opinion, I’m not a dietitian. I guarantee though that I’d do a better job planning the school’s menu than whatever panel of dietitians put together our “healthy” school breakfast program.
Making a big platter of nutritious food for three kids can get crazy in the morning though. Plus, I hate dishes, because I’ve got a ton of stuff to do… all the time. Smoothies are great for minimizing dish use. They’re also drinkable in the car if the alarm clock doesn’t go off on time.
I know smoothie making can turn into a virtual art form. I’m much more utilitarian with my smoothies though. Any blender will do just fine. If you don’t have a blender, I really think you should get one. It makes life easier in so many ways. If you can get one of those blender/food processors in one, all the better.
My smoothie requirements are as follows:
- Hide as much nutritious food that my children wouldn’t otherwise eat as possible.
- Forcefeed (via a lie of omission) my children probiotics.
- Contain berries for their antioxidants and the more variety the better to cover all my children’s nutritional needs.
- Contain coconut milk, because my older children won’t drink it, but it’s incredibly healthy. (See previous blog.)
- Contain local, raw honey for immunity boosting and allergy fighting.
- Be a complete meal.
GRAINS & PROTEIN
I don’t feel like using my toaster for a half hour every single morning making whole wheat toast for everyone. I hate wasting cereal after it gets soggy. I also, as I mentioned before, don’t want to add extra dishes into my breakfast if I don’t have to. So, whatever grains my kids are going to eat, need to go directly into the smoothie. Oh, also, I’m really cheap. So, that means oatmeal is the grain of choice in every smoothie. If you don’t think you can get away with this… they will never notice baby oatmeal because it’s so fine.
Wait, I said grains AND protein right? Well, go ahead and compare the amount of protein in oatmeal with the protein in eggs. Serving to serving, it’s almost the same. I love multitasking!
I can get fresh fruit for the same price as I can get organic frozen fruit. With organic frozen fruit, there is never any waste because it keep for so long. Frozen fruit serves a dual purpose though. You don’t have to waste your time with ice cubes. (Which is cool because I hate refilling the ice cube tray because a child always bumps me as I walk it from the sink to the freezer.) I like to get the organic berry blend of frozen fruit. My grocery store has it available in their generic brand. So, that’s really cool for me.
“DAIRY” & HEALTHY FATS
That’s in quotes because, well… we don’t really do dairy in my house. Dairy is a treat, like doughnuts. I don’t believe for one second that a weaned human being needs milk from any source. It seems highly unnatural to me. Do your own research, because I certainly have, if you don’t believe me. Milk is full of an improper amount and type of fat. The enzymes needed to digest the lactose sugar in milk is gone from the human body at age three. So, that should tell you something about milk (and how long to aim to breastfeed for that matter.) It was meant for a rapidly growing, obese animal. I don’t want my children to be rapidly growing, obese animals. Since we already covered out protein with the oatmeal, the only thing left to really be concerned about is calcium. Well, I’m just going to throw this out there. The calcium in cow’s milk is coarse and not easily digested by us anyway. So, just because it may be in the milk, doesn’t mean we can use all of it. A cup of coconut milk contains approximately 38.4 mg of very digestible calcium though. And the fat in coconut milk which gets smack-talked all the time is now understood to be an amazing fat for our bodies. Coconut milk is one of nature’s best sources for Medium Chain Fatty Acids, which are special fats that are more easily burned as energy than other fats. We do need fats. We just don’t need crappy fats. Given the other benefits of coconut milk that I discuss in a previous blog, here, it seems to me to be the perfect “dairy” for my smoothies.
Since my kids don’t really like many of the ways people normally get probiotics (which are the good bacteria that keep us so healthy) I usually just open a probiotic capsule and toss it into the smoothie. If you like yogurt or kefir, you could certainly use some of that. Another immunity booster that I think is a must is local raw honey. There’s more benefits to raw honey than are possible to list, but for now, it’s just going to help ensure this “milkshake” is sweet enough for my kids.
Depending on how rad your blender is, you may need to blend this up for 3-4 minutes, but all in all, this breakfast simply involves a bunch of dumping things into a blender and then pouring into cups. “Milkshakes” for breakfast means my kids are healthier, my wallet is fatter, my sink is cleaner, and I am super popular with my kiddos… for at least a few moments anyway.