Sometimes, it feels as though 90% of my energy on any given day is spent figuring out how to get as many nourishing foods into my kids’ bodies as possible, given their standard-fare pickiness, a limited budget, and their battle-weary mom.
Another 5% is spent doing the laundry.
I don’t know if you’re keeping up with the math, but that leaves 5% of my energy for doing things like brushing my teeth, showering on occasion, keeping up with social media, and watching my library-loaned copies of Lark Rise to Candleford (a BBC period-dramedy chosen specifically for its solid escapism capabilities).
I’m not (always) bitter, just constantly surprised by how much energy it takes to feed kids well. And looking for better solutions.
Thankfully, last spring I landed on an easy, sure-fire way to get loads of good probiotics into the bellies of my kids: the smoothie. We’ve been enjoying them all summer, but school starts Monday (!) — and my goal is to pack them full of friendly gut-flora, daily, year-round, to give their immune systems that much-needed school-year boost.
The great thing about smoothies? You can sneak things into them. Things like greens, kombucha (a how-to-make-your-own post is coming soon!) beet kvass (a lacto-fermented beverage made from beets — great for the liver, not-so-tasty for the kids), or brain-boosting fish oil (tastes like lemon!). I like using probiotics from multiple sources — yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and a powdered kids’ probiotic supplement — to get as much variety as possible in beneficial bacteria.
If you want a protein boost, you can add a spoonful of nut butter (almond and cashew butters are more neutral in flavor than peanut butter). For constipated kids, grind some flaxseed and throw it in (1 tsp should do). And my personal favorite for getting some extra brain-boosting fats? A quarter of an avocado makes the smoothie thick and creamy, and you can’t taste it at all.
The best part of all? No complaining. At afternoon snack time, when my kids hear the blender running, it’s like a Pavlovian reaction — they come to the table, ready to drink. It keeps them satiated until dinner, and gets those good bugs into their adorable little bellies.
Leaving me just enough time to switch out the laundry, check twitter, and change out of my pjs before dinner.*
* Of course I’m kidding. I’m totally done with laundry by dinner.
If smoothies are a regular part of your life, you might consider investing in a good blender. Of course the top-of-the-line is the Vitamix (I actually found one on craigslist so our smoothies are now chunk-free). But you can spend half the cash and still get a great blender -- Cook's Illustrated gave this Breville blender a top-rating (right alongside Vitamix) and it's around $200 -- even less if you get a refurbished one).
- 1 very ripe banana, preferably frozen
- 1/2 cup frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
- 1/2 cup (or more) kombucha, kvass, or water
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1/4 ripe avocado
- powdered kid's probiotic (optional, dose as instructed)
- 1 Tbsp nut butter (optional)
- 1 tsp ground flax seed (optional)
- 1 Tbsp honey, more as needed
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add additional liquid and/or sweetener as necessary. Serve immediately.