Veggie smoothies are a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables. One of the biggest question most parents of picky eaters (or just young children!) will ask is for tips on how to get more veggies into their kids diets. Veggie smoothies for kids are a great, easy way to get more veggies into your kids without the struggle. Blend up some veggies into their favorite smoothies and you’re good to go. Need tips for the best ways to put veggies in smoothies? What about what are the best vegetables for smoothies? Whether you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat veggies or just trying to get more into your own diet, this post is for you.
Every Saturday in my house is “smoothie Saturday”. The boys wake up, Alex has already left for work, and I’m just kind of over the routine of breakfast. So instead of making pancakes or toast or waffles, I just add a bunch of stuff to the blender and let it rip. Smoothies are Ryan and Owen’s favorite food – seriously, Ryan’s been obsessed since he could use a straw! – and I love that it’s a healthier alternative to some of their favorite breakfast items. (I’m looking at you, cereal.)
But the real reason I love serving the boys smoothies is because I can get veggies in there. I can add veggies to their diets without them even knowing – more veggies, less struggle, which is basically my motto and parenting philosophy.
Every time I tell people my kids gobble up smoothies with veggies, I immediately get questions. Either parents haven’t heard of this sneaky strategy or they’ve tried it and their kids weren’t thrilled. While it’s not rocket science, I have discovered a few tips to making the best veggie smoothies that are vital to my success.
The BEST Tips for Making Veggie Smoothies
- Blend your veggies and liquid first. This helps the veggies get as smooth as possible. No one will be able to tell veggies are hidden in their smoothie if the veggies are completely blended in!
- Another option for super smooth veggie smoothies is to grab a jar of baby food and blend that in. This way you’ll still get the fiber of a vegetable (along with the vitamins, nutrients etc) but it will basically melt away into the smoothie, more than might happen if you blended them in whole. Make sure to keep a close eye on the ingredients – I like to find ones that ONLY have one ingredient when possible. Choose a brand that has no fruit, as well. You don’t need the fruit to mask the baby food if you’re going to use fruit in the smoothie as well. Making your own baby food and freezing into ice cube trays is another great option.
- Either fresh or steamed/defrosted frozen veggies will blend into your smoothie the easiest. Steamed spinach will basically fall apart in a smoothie, which is perfect – same goes for carrots and beets. If you need to use a frozen veggie, stick to things like broccoli and cauliflower, or a vegetable with a high sugar content like butternut squash.
- Use super sweet fruit, especially when first starting to add veggies. A banana or two will cover up any vegetable taste and make it super creamy, but fruits like mango, strawberries, pineapples, and cantaloupe will go a long way. Compliment these with fruits that sometimes have a more delicate taste, like pears, honeydew, and raspberries.
- Skip the juice and use milk and yogurt to make your smoothie smooth and creamy and whole fruits for the fruity taste. Fruit and vegetable juices contain none of the fiber that whole foods have, which is vital for little bodies. If you’re looking to make a dairy free smoothie, try subbing milk for coconut water or a milk alternative.
- Start with sweeter veggies when getting into smoothies – carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and butternut squash will offer veggie appeal and nutrients, but won’t be as detectable in a fruit smoothie.
- If your kid will balk at the sight, try pouring the smoothie into a solid colored cup with a lid before serving. After they take a sip and see for themselves how delicious it is, you’ll be in business. You can also make it into a game – blindfold your kiddo and ask what they can taste!
- Another option for covering the look is to either darker hues fruits like blueberries or lighter hued vegetables like cauliflower. You can also pair fruits, vegetables, and colors. For example, if using carrots or sweet potato, consider an orange or cantaloupe flavored smoothie. In may ways, hidden veggies are a mind game.
- If you or your kiddos need an extra boost, you might want to consider adding a nutrient or protein powder. If serving to your kids, make sure you check in with your pediatrician before doing so, and keep an eye on the ingredients and sugar content as well. We enjoy KidzShake powder and I’ve also used a toddler powder from Enfagrow in the past.
Looking for more ways to sneak veggies into every day foods everyone will love? From baked goods to simple dinners to smoothies, the Outsmart Your Picky Eater cheat sheets will teach you everything you need to know about hidden veggies.
We’re dairy free – can I make a veggie smoothie without dairy?
For sure! We were diary free for about a year after Ryan was born and it’s totally doable. Here are some ways to make dairy free smoothies.
- Try a milk alternative – I love coconut milk and cashew milk for the creaminess. Just make sure to keep an eye on the sugar content. Some of the store bought nut milks can have a ton of added sugar.
- Omit yogurt and milk completely and instead use banana – it will add the creaminess while making you the perfect dairy free smoothie.
- Use either a milk alternative or water to thin our your smoothie if needed. I typically don’t like to use a ton of juice in my smoothies for the boys since I’d rather they fill up on the fiber in fruit.
- If you want to avoid water or a milk alternative to thin our your smoothie, use either fresh or defrosted fruit (with their juice that comes off them) to make your smoothie. It will blend smoother than the frozen and need less liquid to thin it.
- Looking for other ways to make your dairy free smoothies super creamy? Try avocado or sweet potato!
Veggie smoothies aren’t sweet enough – what can I do?
If you’re used to smoothies from smoothie stores or just don’t enjoy smoothies (yet!) it’s a good guess that you don’t find homemade veggie smoothies sweet enough. No worries, we’ll get there. Here are some tips for how to make your smoothies sweeter!
- Use the sweetest fruits you can find – typically, this means buying the more expensive bag of frozen fruit if that;s what you’re using or using fruit that is in season.
- Add an extra ripe banana. Bananas add a ton of sweetness to veggie smoothies if they’re ripe and add creaminess.
- Use the fruits with the most natural sugars – pineapple, sweet cherries and mango come to mind as the most consistently very sweet, especially in frozen form. Strawberries and blueberries in my experience are hit or miss in terms of sweetness.
- Add some natural sweeteners. If you really need some extra sweetness, try to use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Over time you can probably also reduce the amount of sweetener you use until your taste buds get used to it.
What are the best vegetables for veggie smoothies?
I genuinely believe that you can toss any veggie into a smoothie and make it taste good, but there are definitely some veggies that will give you the best results.
- Greens – greens are a smoothies best friend – they blend up so well, the taste is easily over powered, and the color is fun! (you can easily cover the green up by adding something like blueberries though!
- Sweet potato – cooked sweet potato is the perfect vegetable for a veggie smoothie. Naturally sweet, it adds a delicious thickness and creaminess to your smoothie.
- Beets – buy a package of pre-cooked beets (not marinated, just plain) and toss some in. They add sweetness and a really fun pink color to smoothies.
- Peas – not only are peas sweet, but they are packed with protein! Defrost your peas to ensure they blend in smooth, but peas are perfect to add to smoothies that aren’t utilizing super sweet fruit since you don’t need to cover the taste as much.
- Squash – from zucchini to yellow squash to pumpkin, these are the perfect smoothie vegetable. When fresh, not only are they packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they blend up so well and have a very light taste.
- Avocado – pack in some healthy fats by blending in some fresh avocado. You don’t notice it in your favorite guac, but avocado is slightly sweet which helps it blend in seamlessly.
- Cauliflower – the flavor is so light and since it’s white your kids will never know the difference.
How can I find and add superfoods for smoothies?
Another way to add an extra punch to your veggie smoothie is to add a superfood. A superfood is defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” These can add a ton of nutrients to your kids diet, or your diet, when added to a nutrient packed smoothie. Here are some of my favorites that are super kid friendly (aka nothing too crazy or crunchy)!
- cacao nibs – add some chocolate flair with cacao nibs! I like to add a tablespoon or two to a cauliflower, banana, peanut butter smoothie for a fun chunky monkey style smoothie.
- chia seeds – make sure you blend these in well, or allow them to soak in some liquid before adding to the smoothie to avoid any texture issues.
- flax seeds – add some Omega 3’s to your smoothie by adding some flax seeds – I like to use the ground ones to make sure they get blended in well.
- coconut oil – to be honest, not my favorite add in, since it can be a weird texture. As a fat, it can clump leaving a chunky texture.
- goji berries – toss a tablespoon in for some extra antioxidants as well as some plant protein.
- hemp seeds – perfect for omegas, fiber, and protein!
Help! My kids only like the store bought smoothies!
This is such a pain – I get it! There are a few factors here – the sweetness and the excitement. Most commercial smoothies will be sweetened by either some kind of nutrient powder or because the fruit is sitting in syrup. Then of course, there is the mental block of, “everything is better when it’s not at home” which I totally do even as an adult. Here are some ways to overcome the hurdle.
- Try natural sweeteners. Stevia, honey, and maples syrup are all great options. Even if you have to use a bit of normal sugar to add some sweetness, chances are that it will still be MUCH less than one you buy in stores – weigh your options and make a decision.
- Make it fun by getting them involved! I’m a big believer in the thought that kids are way more likely to try something if they had a hand in making it. Ask them to help you blend, put things into the blender, pour – whatever you’re comfortable with.
- Have specific, fun smoothie cups. My boys know that when these specific cups come out of the cupboard, it’s smoothie time and they get excited.
Should I use fresh or frozen fruits and veggies in smoothies?
This really depends on what you’re adding, the texture you’re going for, and how much liquid you want to add. For greens, I highly recommend either fresh or defrosted. The frozen tends get a little chunky. But for things like cauliflower, broccoli, or even some squash, like butternut, I use frozen regularly. Just make sure that you have a high speed blender to get the job done. If not, you might want to defrost them first.
As for your fruit, I typically always use frozen because of the cost. If you use all fresh fruits and vegetables, your smoothie will much thinner and probably require less liquid. I also really enjoy adding frozen bananas – it’s a great way to handle when your bananas get ripe too quickly – freeze them and use in your smoothies! They tend to add a milkshake type consistency.
Okay, so you’re ready to make some veggie smoothies for your kids – where to start?
First you’re going to need a base recipe. Below you’ll find my favorite base recipe – it’s super flexible so use what you have, omit what you don’t. I use yogurt for the probiotic boost and creaminess, but it’s optional. Same goes for add ins.
Veggie Smoothie Base
- 1 cup milk (or other liquid)
- .25 cup yogurt
- 1 cup fruit
- .25 cup veggies
- 1-2 tbsp add-ins
Blend veggies and liquid until smooth.
Add in yogurt, fruit, and add-ins.
Blend until smooth and serve.
Need some veggies smoothie recipes?
Use strawberries and cherries as your fruits and beets as your vegetable. Omit the dairy and substitute coconut water to get a BRIGHT red color! Keep the milk and yogurt of choice and you’ll have a pretty pink smoothie perfect for a princess.
With sweet potato and carrot as your vegetables, you’re free to stick to just one fruit since they are naturally sweet vegetables. To keep the orange color, try mango or even papaya!
Try combining pineapple and banana with cauliflower – you’ll have a sweet, light yellow smoothie everyone will love.
My youngest is obsessed with all things dinosaur, so anytime I make him a green veggie smoothie he gobbles up, “dinosaur juice”. Greens, peas, banana and pineapple make a great, perfectly sweet smoothie.
For the perfect purple smoothie, try blueberries, greens, and purple sweet potato. If you need extra sweetness, add some pineapple or apple to the mix.
Getting more veggies into your diet or the diet of your kids is as simple as breaking out the blender. These veggies smoothie tips will get you started on the right track towards putting veggies in smoothies.
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