Vegetables. The picky eater challenge of many meals. Why is that? It can often be texture, color, or scent related. I’ve supported many families through this eating difficulty and one of my recommendations is …smoothies! Smoothies are an easy and accessible way to meet daily nutritional needs and with the right ingredients, can help kids gain weight (if this is a goal for the family). Hiding the Vegetables If your kids aren’t fans of the green things, start with pink, purple, and orange-colored smoothies. There are plenty of kid-friendly recipes on the internet and I've included a starter recipe below. What’s important is that you find a base that they like and then incorporate vegetables and healthy fats from there. Avoid adding things like chia seeds, cacao nibs, and other textured ingredients and generally keep the flavors simple. You want to blend it to an almost milkshake-like consistency. Those ingredients can stiffen up the smoothie, making it unappealing. Most importantly, blend well. Not even adults like a chunky smoothie, but picky eaters can be turned off by any lumps. It’s easiest to put the frozen or heartier vegetables in first with the liquid and then add in fruits and other ingredients. Once your child accepts and drinks your initial smoothie creation, you can graduate to green smoothies, and smoothies that run a little thicker. Ingredients to Help Kids Gain Weight Smoothies can also be a great source of protein and fat for kids who need to gain weight. Healthy fats like avocados, nut butter, MCT oil, and coconut oil can be added in to give an extra boost of calories. For a high-fat smoothie, you can use coconut milk as the base. Strengthening Oral Motor Skills with Smoothies If your child can manage it, have them use a straw when drinking their smoothie. Straws help increase oral motor strength in the lips and cheeks, helping to build the muscles we use for speech sounds and words. This works particularly well with thicker smoothies. Developing Motor Skills with Smoothies If you aren’t outright hiding vegetables in smoothies, encourage your kids to help you prepare them! Movements like chopping (with a kid-friendly knife), measuring, and pouring help refine their motor skills. You can also turn it into a fun activity by making popsicles or putting together smoothie bowls. Tips for Putting Together a Smoothie \tWhen choosing a liquid, stick to milk (whether dairy or alternative) and water. Fruit juices are high in sugar and can make smoothies icy. If you need to thin out the smoothie, add a splash of milk or water to get it to the right consistency. \tIf you’re using watery fruits like oranges or clementines, consider adding a scoop of yogurt instead of milk to help balance the consistency. \tFreeze your leafy greens! Spinach and kale are easy to blend when they’re frozen. If you’re aiming for a smooth texture try using fresh fruits. \tBananas are best when they’re browning. Spotted bananas are perfect for adding sweetness and creaminess to smoothies. I love to chop up my bananas and freeze them for use in smoothies later in the week :) Base Smoothie Recipe \t1 Cup Milk- preference for Oat Milk these days (or ½ Cup Yogurt) \t1 Small Ripe Banana (or ½ large) \t½ cup fresh or frozen fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, kiwi, oranges \t½ cup vegetables: spinach, kale, carrots, steamed beets, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted butternut squash \tAdd-ins: ¼ avocado, nut butter, MCT oil, coconut oil Flavor Combination Ideas Crowd Pleaser: Milk, banana, strawberry, blueberry, spinach High-Fat Tropical: Coconut milk, banana, kiwi, avocado, kale It’s Pink!: Milk, banana, strawberry, roasted beets Looking for more help on feeding difficulties? Reach out to set up your free consultation.