A Healthy Smoothie Your Kids Will Beg For

by Jodie Block on 08/19/2012

Whenever possible, I choose a preemptive approach to snacking; I prepare healthy treats made from unprocessed, whole foods for my kids. But that’s not always enough to combat the onslaught of less-than-nutritious options we’re faced with once we leave the house. A few weeks ago, my daughter had a craving for a smoothie from our swim club’s snack bar and she began her campaign by insisting it was better than the smoothies I make for her at home. Impossible, I thought, as I quickly scanned the ingredients looking for my deal breakers, the usual suspects of smoothie-related pet peeves – sugar, syrup or juice. But as her usual chant of “Please, Mommy, please, I reeeeally want one,” was escalating, what I did find on that list was a surprising reason to give her what she reeeeally wanted. In fact, it was a no-brainer.

Before I gave in, I decided I’d use her taste buds to make my point. First I asked her, “What if you don’t like it?”  She continued to beg, “I’ll love it! I tasted Bella’s last week and it was de-LISH!”  I said, “Julia, look, it has fruit, yogurt, soymilk…every thing I use at home.” Heart set, she persisted, “Please mom! Theirs are just BETTER!”

That was all I needed to hear.  I bought her the smoothie and it was delish. She loved it. As she slurped the last drops loudly through her straw, I asked her if she liked the ground flax seeds they added – an ingredient she knew I’d tried repeatedly to get her to eat at home (having only succeeded on the days when I’d snuck them into her pancakes). She looked up at me wide-eyed, in silent recognition of the price she’d just paid for that smoothie, and uttered the only possible response, “I loved it Mommy and I couldn’t even taste it.” And that’s when, thanks to the help of the swim club snack bar, my daughter started letting me add ground flax seed her food without having to sneak it in!

Facts on Flax: 

Ground flax seeds have a variety of health benefits. They are rich in fiber, which improves digestive health, promotes fullness and satiety. It also provides a complete protein, which is hard to find in plant-based foods. Plus, flax has antioxidants and essential omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), and phytochemicals called lignans, which have been shown to help reduce total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Don’t forget to ground your flax seeds so your body is better able to digest it. Whole flaxseed may pass through your intestine undigested, which means you would not get all the health benefits. You don’t need a lot to get a lot; a daily one-tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s a healthful boost of omega-3, fiber, and protein.

Enhancing with Flax:

Besides smoothies, parents can also slip a teaspoon to a tablespoon of flax into any number of foods to boost their nutritional value. Try it in yogurt, hot or cold breakfast cereal, pancake batter, salads, mustard or flavored mayo for a sandwich, cookie recipes, muffins, any baked goods as a matter of fact. And keep in mind, flax seeds come in brown and golden and although the color and price differ, the nutrition benefits are the same…but because golden flaxseed is lighter in color it is easier to hide in food.

The Flabbergasting Smoothie Recipe:  ”Rocket Fuel” as my Swim Club calls it.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana, peeled
  • 1/2 -1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 4 – 6 ounces vanilla nonfat yogurt (they used Yoplait Lite)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • Up to 1/2 cup ice cubes

Method:

Put all ingredients into a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

You can boost the nutritional value by adding other fruits, or try adding regular, rice, coconut, or almond milks. If it’s healthy and it can be blended, it can be added to your smoothie! If you have any other uses for flax seeds, I’d love to see your recipes too! Please leave your comments and suggestions below. More food for thought from the Sneaky Dietitian

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy Zaslow August 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Love it! I started “hiding” flax seed in smoothies and more and so far it’s yet to be discovered :)

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Jennifer Iannolo September 10, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Jodie, what are your thoughts on soy milk? I’ve read a lot about the health downside of soy lately, so I’d likely choose coconut milk for this recipe (then I don’t have to be afraid about nut allergies, either!).

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Jodie September 17, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Hi Jennifer, Aside from allergies…here’s an article written by a reputable doctor, I believe, sets the record straight when it comes to the great soy controversy. I like the way he explains the soy phytoestrogens and breast cancer risk. In my opinion it is always best to remember, everything in moderation, even too much of a good thing isn’t always good ;) Thanks for your comment…Jodie, the sneaky dietitian
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-barnard-md/settling-the-soy-controve_b_453966.html

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