I don’t know about you, but some days I’m SO OVER making food for my kids! Smoothies feel WAY more do-able than cooking in these moments because I just have to dump stuff in and push a button. And (bonus points!), the benefits of smoothies go way beyond convenience. You can use them to gently introduce a picky eater to a new food (even a veggie!), and you can even use different ingredient combos to help with things like low-iron and constipation. I’m hoping these 6 healthy smoothies for kids will breathe some new life into your smoothie game, and make your little ones happy in the process!
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How to Make Healthy Smoothies for Kids
Knowing what constitutes a healthy smoothie is great because it means you can go wild and experiment with new flavor combos in your kitchen, without worrying about the nutritional side of things.
So with that said, here’s what I think about when I make healthy smoothies for kids and toddlers:
Include Protein, Fat, and Carbs
I always make sure to include a protein, fat, and carbohydrate to make smoothies filling and balanced, and to prevent spikes in blood sugar. When you serve only a carbohydrate on its own, it’s more likely to give them that spike and then crash.
I like to include veggies whenever I can. Though fruit has the same vitamins and minerals as veggies, kids typically don’t love veggies! When they see them going into a smoothie, and they like the smoothie, they walk away with a positive association with that veggie (even if they aren’t ready to eat that veggie on its own).
I’ve been putting spinach in my now 5-year-old’s smoothies forever, and he just the other day started eating plain raw spinach leaves! It’s a true dietitian’s dream, my child happily munching on leaves, ha. I really think a lot of that has to do with all the low-pressure exposure he’s gotten to spinach over the years.
The Best Veggies for Smoothies:
- Spinach (fresh or frozen)
- Kale (frozen is easiest)
- Cauliflower (frozen and riced cauliflower is easiest)
- Pumpkin (canned)
- Zucchini (fresh, cut into chunks or shredded, skin on)
- Carrots (fresh, cut into chunks or shredded, skin on)
Use (Whole) Milk
I typically use whole milk for the liquid, since it’s a good source of protein, calcium, fat, and vitamin D (when fortified). But, you can use any milk you’d like.?
My top alternatives for cow’s milk are Ripple pea milk or soy milk, because they have the same nutrients that cow’s milk has. My post on milk for toddlers should answer any other milk-related questions you have.
Blend, Blend, Blend
Use a high power blender to ensure that you don’t have chunks of anything floating around in your smoothies. Big surprise: kids tend not to like food that’s unintentionally chunky! (And who could blame them?)
Best Smoothie Cups for Kids
The Elk and Friends Glass and Silicone Cups are my #1 favorite smoothie cups. The straws have stoppers so they can’t be yanked out, and the silicone sleeves make them super durable (helping to reduce the damage when inevitable cup droppings occur!). I’ve literally thrown these cups on the floor to make sure they won’t break– because if I’m telling you something is durable, I’m gonna make sure it’s durable!– and I’ve never had an issue.
Healthy Smoothie Recipes for Kids
Okay, now that you have the background info and the tools you need to make and serve amazing smoothies, here are the top 6 most requested recipes in our house:
Blueberry Yogurt (& Kale) Smoothie for Toddlers
This is a great smoothie for afternoon snack time. I like to keep bananas in the freezer so I always have them ready for smoothies (just peel, break into chunks and put them in a large Ziploc). You can make this with fresh or frozen bananas, whatever you have, and you can always substitute a different berry, or use spinach in place of the kale!
And, yes, I put lids on these the second I was done photographing. I do not need purple stained rugs!
Apple Pie Smoothie
This smoothie is a big hit! It helps keep kids’ digestion moving along, and it’s banana-free for those who need recipes without bananas. I usually serve it with some toast since it’s not quite as filling as most of the other smoothies I make.
To make it, blend up 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, 1 single-serve container of vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek), and about 3/4 cup ice.
Can you tell Teddy is like, “Can I please just drink it now??”?
Cocoa Banana PB Smoothie
A little tip for this one: use very ripe bananas. The green-ish ones, and even the newly yellow ones, have constipating agents in them.
(This smoothie serves 2!)
Mango Chia Breakfast Smoothie
For this smoothie, I used small dates for sweetness. If yours are on the larger side, use 2 and see if it’s sweet enough for your little one like that.
Dates are a fantastic alternative to bananas in recipes like these. They naturally sweeten smoothies and they have fiber and some vitamins and minerals, making them a better choice than adding something like maple syrup (though that’s fine to do sometimes too!).?
(Non-Yucky) Zucchini Bread Smoothie
Do your kids think zucchini is yucky, too? This will help them get around that! Banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and walnut are bigger, pleasing flavors so they come through over the zucchini, making this the perfect combo for a little one who is not pumped about the idea of zucchini on its own!
Note: 10 walnuts actually means 10 walnut halves, like the kind you buy already pre-shelled. I don’t think you’d throw walnut shells in the blender, but just want to be super clear on that!
High-Iron Orange Banana Smoothie
This smoothie is great for kids who don’t eat meat and/or may be missing out on iron, an important nutrient necessary for the functioning of all cells in our bodies. It has about 1/3 of a toddler’s total iron needs!
Large banana, frozen
1 cup milk of choice
3-4 tbsp raisins
1/4c frozen spinach
2 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp ground flax
Blend everything together and serve! Serves 2.
Want to make feeding your family easier?
I’ve got you covered! My Meal & Snack Survival Guide provides tips, answers to the questions I hear most as well as in-depth information on how to prepare balanced breakfasts, lunches and dinners easily and quickly. It even includes recipes and photos!