Veggie smoothies are a great way to get nutrients into your kids. One of the biggest questions most parents of picky eaters (or just young children!) will ask is for tips on how to get more veggies into their kids diets. Smoothies for kids are a great, easy way to get more vegetables into your kids without the struggle. Blend up some greens into their favorite smoothies and you’re good to go. Need tips for the best ways to put veggies in your kid’s drink? What about what are the best vegetables for smoothies? Whether you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat better or just trying to balance 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 my secret weapon is because I can get veggies in there. I can add nutrition to their diets without a complaint – more veggies, less struggle, which is basically my motto and parenting philosophy.
Every time I tell people my kids gobble up smoothies packed with vegetables, 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 vegetables and liquid first. This helps them get as smooth as possible. No one will be able to tell spinach is hidden in their smoothie if it’s completely blended in!
- Try baby food. 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 drink, more than might happen if you blended them in whole. Make sure to keep a close eye on the ingredients of the baby food – 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 that will save you both time and money.
- Either fresh or steamed/defrosted frozen options 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 vegetable, stick to things like broccoli and cauliflower, or a vegetable with a high sugar content like butternut squash because it will not freeze as solid, making it easier to blend.
- Use super sweet fruit, especially when first starting to add veggies. A banana or two will cover up any unfavorable 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 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 your body. If you’re looking to make a dairy free version, try subbing milk for coconut milk or a milk alternative.
- Start with sweeter veggies. – carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and butternut squash will offer vitamins and nutrients, but won’t be as detectable in a sweet fruit smoothie.
- If your kid will balk at the sight, try pouring the drink 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 use either darker hued 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 many 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 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 drink.
- Use either a milk alternative or water to thin out your smoothie if needed. I typically don’t like to use a ton of juice in the ones I make 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 the liquid that comes off them as they melt) 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 drinks super creamy? Try avocado or sweet potato!
Veggie smoothies aren’t sweet enough – what can I do?
If you’re used to the special drinks from commercial smoothie stores or just don’t enjoy them in general (yet!) it’s a good guess that you don’t find homemade versions sweet enough. No worries, we’ll get there. Here are some tips for how to make them 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. I tend to buy an excess of bananas at all times and then freeze them at that perfect over ripe state for baking and blending.
- 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.
Want to trick your kiddos with every meal? Try this: Over 100 Hidden Veggie Recipes Your Kids Will Love!
What are the best vegetables for smoothies?
I genuinely believe that you can toss any vegetable into a smoothie and make it taste good, but there are definitely some that will give you the best results.
- Greens – greens are a smoothie’s 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 blending. Naturally sweet, it adds a delicious thickness and creaminess to your drink.
- Beets – buy a package of pre-cooked beets (not marinated!) 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. Peas are perfect to add to blended drinks 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 vegetable. When fresh, not only are they packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they are soft and blend up well as well as having 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 drink. 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.
- chia seeds – make sure you blend these in well, or allow them to soak in some liquid before adding to the blender 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!
Want more quick and easy breakfast options? Check out this post with over 30 Breakfast Recipes for Kids
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 brnads 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 if you don’t have a high powered blender. The frozen tends get a little chunky. But for things like cauliflower, broccoli, or even some squash, like butternut, I use frozen regularly.
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 use up over ripe bananas – freeze them and use later! 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.
The Best Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Recipe
The Best Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Recipe
This simple veggie smoothie base is the perfect way to sneak more vegetables into your diet!
- 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 great recipes?
- Red Fruit and Veggie Smoothie with Beets
Use strawberries and cherries as your fruits and beets as your veg. 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 drink perfect for a princess.
- Orange Smoothie with Carrot and Sweet Potato
With sweet potato and carrot as your vegetables, you’re free to stick to just one fruit since they are naturally sweet. To keep the orange color, try mango or even papaya!
- Yellow Version with Cauliflower
Try combining pineapple and banana with cauliflower – you’ll have a sweet, light yellow drink 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 drink. We even made a Grinch version for a Christmas Smoothie!
- Purple Fruit and Veggie 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.
- Pina Colada Smoothie – a healthy non alcoholic pina colada
- Easy Spinach Smoothie Recipe
- Simple, Fun Spring Smoothies
Getting more vegetables into your diet or the diet of your kids is as simple as breaking out the blender. These tips will get you started on the right track towards putting sneaking in those vegetables!.
If you enjoyed these tips, you may enjoy these posts..
Got a picky eater?
My kids eat their veggies every day without complaining. Want my secret?
Grab the Outsmart your Picky Eater cheat sheets to get the inside scoop on how to add veggies to food your kids already love.