Back to School Smoothies – Tropical Green Smoothie

green smoothie

Green smoothies are an excellent choice for those back to school mornings as they provide a ton of nutrients to start the day and get the kids energized. A green smoothie though, is not always the most popular with kids. They take one look at the color and won’t even try it no matter what you tell them is in it. (This is one of the reasons why I like making other kinds of smoothies and adding in a little greens. You can literally hide them in there as it doesn’t change the color and they get blended up so they have no idea!)

One of the reasons kids (and some adults too) steer away from green smoothies is because often times they are this ugly dark green and aren’t very tasty or sweet. And even though I like my vegetables, when my smoothie tastes bland and like just a glass of vegetables, that doesn’t appeal even to me – why would a kid like it? That being said I have found a green smoothie that I quite enjoy and has passed the ‘kid test’. It is actually the favorite of my youngest son.

This green smoothie is sweet in taste due to the 3 kinds of tropical fruits, but not overly so, and a bright vibrant green. Stocked with 3 kinds of greens as well this makes for a very good combination. The nice thing is to if you need it a little sweeter you just add a little more fruit.

I have even made this green smoothie in my kids cooking classes (ages 3-12) and most of them liked it. In fact, for some of them it was their favorite smoothie as well!

Why do you want kids to have a green smoothie in the morning?

  • They are an easy way to get in those greens everyday (and right at the start). I don’t know about you but sometimes I find this difficult and get to the end of the day with no greens whatsoever. I feel good when I start my day with some greens.
  • Greens are rich in fiber, high in vitamins like vitamin C, K, E, and minerals and have many disease fighting benefits. And if you’re using a green like spinach, it’s high in iron ( supports brain function, muscle health, curbs fatigue)
  • Greens are high in antioxidants
  • They are high in folate which maintains a healthy heart, is needed for body’s cell division and prevents depression
  • Supports healthy brain function

Tropical Green Smoothie

1 c. spinach

green smoothie3-4 stems of parsley

1 sprig of fresh mint (I love mint so I might add a bit more, add yours to taste)

*1/2 c. papaya

1/2 c. pineapple

1/2 c. mango

**1/2 -3/4 c. apple juice or water

Put all ingredients in Vitamix blender. Start on low moving up to high. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Enjoy!

*I use orange or yellow papaya as I like it better and find it sweeter; but you can also use red papaya

**vary the amounts of fruit to make it sweeter or less sweet to taste

**I have found over the years that if I add a little more fruit then I can use water instead of juice and it still tastes yummy, sweet and delicious

Serves 1

Give this green smoothie a try this weekend and see how the crew likes it. If it’s a success you can start incorporating it into your back to school smoothie rotation in the mornings and kick off the day with a nice green healthy breakfast.

Back to School Smoothies – Classic Berry

berry smoothie

One of my favorite smoothies is when there is an abundance of fruit – and I mean a variety of fruits that I really love. Yes I know they all taste great on their own but I love putting them all together in one glass. Seriously for me it’s like a treat or a sundae.

This is why I love a classic berry smoothie. Not only do I fulfill my desire for more than one berry at once, I can also amp it up a little with some added ingredients that get disguised in the mix. So to the eye and palette very much berry, berry and berry, but to the rest of the body, lots of yummy nutrients that I need or am trying to get in!

This is especially good for kids who naturally love sweeter smoothies and will be all over drinking this. They will enjoy it and you will be happy that you got that other stuff in there (I feel especially successful when I’ve gotten some greens into them first thing in the morning). My daughter, in particular likes this smoothie and will gulp it down very quickly.

berry smoothieNow I know in the first post in this back to school smoothie series I recommended go easy on the fruit, as it can create too much sugar (even if it is natural) in the body first thing in the morning. The key is that with the other ingredients we are adding this quickly balances it out and stabilizes the higher sugars that you get from the higher fruit content. Plus because we are blending and not juicing you still get the fiber from the fruits which also helps to counter balance the sugars. And well let’s be honest, it tastes good! And every once in a while we deserve a little treat.

This is also a great smoothie if you are trying to introduce smoothies to your kids but not having as much luck as you had hoped so far. Because of it’s higher sweet content you may have more success, knowing that you did successfully get that spinach in there to, without them even knowing. Then later you can work on the green ones…

Classic Berry Smoothie

1 banana

5-6 fresh strawberries

1/2 c. blueberries

berry smoothie1/2 c. raspberries

1 1/2 c. non dairy milk (we usually use unsweetened almond milk)

*1-2 tbsp hemp seeds

1 healthy handful of spinach

Put all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Now if you prefer more blueberry to strawberry or raspberry, feel free to adjust the amounts accordingly. You may also substitute chia seeds for hemp seeds, just be aware that with chia seeds they can make it much thicker especially if not drunk right away.

Serves 3

Perfect for the morning and to add that variety to the morning smoothie menu.

Coming up… a yummy Green Smoothie (honestly it’s delicious! and your kids will love it)

Back to School Smoothies – Peanut Butter

peanut butter smoothie

Peanut butter smoothies are a staple for my kids at our house. Even though I recommend changing things up and giving the kids variety, they go for days if not weeks in a row where they only want this smoothie.

I really like the peanut butter smoothie because it is a super quick and easy recipe – with simply peanut butter, banana and milk. It is a nice thick creamy smoothie that is high in protein, filling and a great way to start the day!

We tend to add in a few other ingredients to this smoothie like dates and oatmeal for a little added sweetness and nutrient boost. Dates are high in fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin A. They are also high in natural sugars which provide an immediate and sustainable burst of energy (sustainable because it also has the high fiber content).

If you’re not a peanut butter fan or have an allergy, it is easy to substitute any nut butter in this smoothie or you can use Wow Butter, which is a soy based product (but does have added sugar) that has similar taste and texture to peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Smoothie

1 bananapeanut butter smoothie

1 tbsp. unsweetened or natural peanut butter

2 c. non dairy milk (we like almond but choose your favorite)

2 medjool dates, pitted

1/3 c. dry oatmeal

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Serves 2

Coming up… the Classic Berry Smoothie

A Plethora of Apples – Yummy Apple Recipes for Your Fall Harvest

apple recipes

Each Fall we end up with an abundance of fresh apples. Whether it be from our own tree or given to us by the grandparents we usually have large buckets of them. As a result over the years I have created and tested many different apple recipes to make use of all these delicious apples. Of course we make the traditional apple crumble and pie, but as yummy as that is, we do like a little variety. And I do like to experiment.

The kids love just coming home and grabbing a fresh apple from the bucket to enjoy. In fact they eat so many apples that you would think that we might actually make a dent in them. Unfortunately this is not the case – so baking it is! (and other creative uses)

I found and/ or developed a number of dairy free, sugar free and even some gluten free recipes that use apples. Giving us lots to choose from and enjoying whatever suits us on any particular day. I am still on the hunt though for a recipe that uses a large quantity of apples at once, as many of these recipes use maybe 4 apples at once. That’s a super long process of getting through our bucket! Even when I double the recipe.

If you have a plethora of apples this Fall or are just looking for some yummy apple recipes – here’s what I’ve discovered and tested so far:

Yummy Apple Recipes

Muffins:

Cakes:

Crumble:

Pie:

Pancakes:

Smoothies:

Snacks:

  • Apples & Peanut Butter (simply slice your apple and dip in peanut butter)
  • Apples & Caramel Dip (don’t be deceived this is a sugar free healthy dip)

I have yet to try an apple cookie – but it’s on the list! and when I am getting towards the bottom of the bucket I usually start to make apple juice with our juicer, or even apple sauce (just boil the apples til soft, drain and puree in blender, add a little cinnamon and voila!).

What are some of your favorite apple recipes? Share in the comments below

Easy Afterschool Snacks

easy afterschool snacks

It’s that time of day when the kids arrive home from school ravenous and hungry, ready to eat anything in sight! They are poking their heads in the fridge, looking for an easy afterschool snack. Eyeing things hopefully on the counter, hoping to grab a quick bite to fill their tummies. You’d like them to have something healthy and with sustenance what do you do?

Afterschool is one of those key times when kids need something nutritious and healthy, but not something that will fill them up so much they won’t eat their supper. You also want a combination of options that they can just grab and go or something that they can easily make themselves, so you don’t always have to pause what you’re doing and make it.

I love that my daughter will come home and grab her own yogurt, simply asking me for a bowl (and if I just move those into a bottom cupboard I wouldn’t even have to do that) and she scoops it up herself. This allows me to continue either working or making supper without having to stop and get her a snack.

The best afterschool snacks are ones that provide essential nutrients and that energy boost – so snacks that include protein, healthy fats and are rich in vitamins are important. Even a little of sweet or salty to please the palate.

Easy Afterschool Snacks

Some of the snack recipes and suggestions below are make ahead, but once made go into the fridge or freezer ready for the kids to help themselves. They are also easy recipes that you can make with the kids (so they can help), or depending on their age, may even be able to make it themselves.

Peanut Butter & Apples

easy afterschool snacksMy kids came home one day asking for this. I have no idea where they got the idea but it makes a great snack. Gives you your protein and sweet. For an extra added boost add in raisins or pumpkin seeds.

apple, sliced

big dollop of unsweetened peanut butter

Put peanut butter into a small bowl. Slice apple. Dip apple slices into peanut butter and enjoy.

Granola

Pumpkin seeds are a great energy food. High in magnesium, zinc phosphorus and omega 3’s they are also a great source of protein. Honey, a natural sweetener, has a long history of fighting infections and being good for colds, to name a few.

1 tbsp. honeyeasy afterschool snacks

1 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1/2 c. large flake rolled oats

2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. coconut

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt Earth Balance and cook with honey for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook until golden. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes until dry. Break apart and enjoy.

Store in an airtight container to enjoy later.

Kale Chips

Kale is a superfood that is high in fiber, iron, vitamins (such as A, C, K), filled with antioxidants and a great anti-inflammatory food. This is a basic kale chip recipe but you can play with the flavor by using different spices.

easy afterschool snacks1 bunch of kale, stem cut out and chopped

olive oil

sea salt

Place chopped kale into medium size bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and massage the oil onto the leaves, making sure they are well covered. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place onto a large bar pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 250 F for 3-5 minutes. When kale is crisp take them out and let cool.

Keep an eye on your kale as it may not take long depending on your oven and they can easily burn. 

Other Delicious Easy Afterschool Snack Ideas

tropical green smoothieSmoothies – power pack with your favorite fruits and throw in chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax for protein and fiber. You can even add in some vegetables like carrots or a handful of spinach. The kids won’t even know it’s there.

Yogurt Parfaits – 3 simple ingredients (fruit, granola, yogurt) this fun snack is something the kids can easily make themselves.

Veggies & Dip – my kids love veggies, but when there is dip, they eat them even faster. What kid doesn’t like to dip stuff?

Raw Chocolate Pudding – made with avocado (a great healthy fat and high in vitamin E), this yummy chocolate pudding will fill the kids up and replenish their energy.

Energy Bites – a favorite at our house, this peanut butter and honey in a ball is a quick easy treat that is packed with all kinds of good stuff. It is also a great recipe to make ahead with the kids that they can just grab and go.

Fruit & Yogurt – simple easy and fun to make, choose your favorite fruit and top with yogurt. And if you’re looking for non dairy there are some great non dairy brands out there like Yoso Coconut Yogurt.

energy bitesCoconut Truffles – another great make ahead and super easy. This yummy healthy sweet treat is made with dates, coconut and chocolate all rolled into one.

Honey Roasted Nuts & Fruits – this yummy sweet treat is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats and protein.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream – no dairy added to this ice cream and super easy to make! Just pop frozen strawberries and bananas into the blender and voila.

Afterschool is a time when you want the kids to be able to help themselves to nutritious healthy snacks that will fuel them without ruining dinner. And it’s a great way to start giving them a little independence. Make it easy, make it fun and get them to help create!

It’s also a perfect time to introduce some new foods by incorporating foods that they like with new ones. Make it fun and encourage them to try it. You can foster a loving and supportive environment to try it in; and with them having making it themselves and gaining a little more independence, you’ll have even more success.

A Refreshing Twist on Watermelon – The Watermelon Smoothie

Watermelon SmoothieThe other day my youngest son said he had an idea to make a watermelon smoothie. We love watermelon especially in the summer! It is such a nice refreshing snack. For us, we usually just slice it and eat it, I had never really thought of doing anything else with it. Sure I had heard of people putting watermelon into salads or other recipes but I had never thought of putting it into a smoothie. It just seemed odd to me.

But really, why not? You can put basically anything into a smoothie and with the right combination, can be absolutely delicious! And we love smoothies at our house and enjoy trying different combinations. In fact, I have been experimenting this year with creating my own smoothie recipes. It’s fun figuring out what goes well together and what might not. When I create a really good one, I get very excited. Like when I created this yummy green smoothie in the spring with grapefruit, orange and dandelion greens- yum!

The other thing I didn’t realize is that watermelon is actually chalk full of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, potassium and magnesium to name a few. Plus it has many health benefits benefiting cardiovascular health, anti-flammatory and antioxidant support. Here I thought it was just water and that you didn’t get much else out of it. Even better!

So I set out on a hunt for watermelon smoothie recipes to see what was out there. There are many that are a combination of watermelon and strawberries (which seemed quite popular), some with almond milk, even some with coconut water (which I am going to have to try that one). But the one that I was drawn to the most was this combination with raspberries, fresh lime and mint. All favorite ingredients of mine. I love mint and am really into lime lately. I also liked that it was described as ‘the most refreshing smoothie, ever‘. It quickly made me think of hot summer days when you’re looking for something a little more than just a glass of water. I could see myself, sitting on the deck, smoothie in hand, relaxing and enjoying the hot summer sun…

When I whipped it up this afternoon I was not disappointed! It was fabulous. I could not believe how delicious it was and even though it was not super hot that day, I could see how enjoyable it would be on a hot summer day. Not to mention I love the rich red color and how sweet and fresh it tastes. I can’t wait to make it for the kids who were away for the weekend, especially my son, to not only thank him for the fabulous idea, but to see how much they enjoy it as well.

Watermelon Smoothiewatermelon smoothie

1 c. watermelon

1/2 c. frozen raspberries

fresh lime juice (squeeze 1/4 of a lime) or 1 drop lime essential oil*

2 sprigs of fresh mint

Put all ingredients into blender. Mix until well combined and is smooth. Pour into glass and enjoy!

*note: if you’r using lime essential oil ensure that it is safe to ingest as all brands of essential oils are not created equal and not all are safe to take internally

Serves 1

Orange Cranberry Smoothie

IMG_6830I woke up Christmas morning this year feeling very excited! I felt like a kid all over again, the magic and anticipation of Santa and Christmas morning were very present. I didn’t sleep much, and by 5 am I was literally ready to get up and open presents. I seriously considered going and getting my parents up ‘for old times sake’ like when we were kids and getting up at 3 being told to go back to bed, then 4 then 5 and finally my parents would give up about 6.

I had the pleasure of sharing Christmas this year with both my parents and only me. No kids, no siblings, no in laws, just us, which is a rare and special occasion. It is not often that such an opportunity occurs and I felt that this in itself was a gift. Christmas Eve we watched a movie and my Mum and I sat up late talking and sipping gingerbread martinis. At midnight we toasted and wished each other Merry Christmas. We peeked outside, and experienced a calm beautiful evening. The snow gently falling and a peacefulness in the air, truly a unique energy that was not present earlier that day (or on Christmas morning when I popped outside either). It really was like in the movies, that magical energy, and presence there.

IMG_4491One of the things I love to do over the holidays is experiment with different festive recipes and on Christmas Eve I had already been thinking about trying a Cranberry smoothie of some kind Christmas morning. I googled a number of recipes and found some good ones, though undecided which one to try.

When I woke in the morning (or should I say finally got up around 8) I bounced out of the spare room wishing a Merry Christmas! Mum was at the sink, Dad dressing in red and I was moving towards the tree. Quickly with coffees or waters in hand we began a lovely ritual of opening gifts and sharing. After gifts Mum went to the kitchen to make brunch – a fabulous Impossible Quiche with Daiya smoked gouda, spinach and mushrooms and I proceeded to make the smoothies. I had decided to take the elements of some of the recipes I found that I liked and combine them, adding some of my own ingredients and creating my own. The result was fantastic! A smooth creamy, flavorful smoothie that we all socked back quickly, expressing how much we enjoyed it. I loved the added greens myself, which darkens the pink looking smoothie slightly but gets those greens in there without even tasting it! The added benefit is that cranberries themselves are considered a super food and are high in vitamin C, E, fiber as well as providing benefits such as improved immune system, antioxidant and decreased blood pressure.

When I arrived home after Christmas I made it again for the kids and they all loved it! Matthew who hasn’t been drinking many smoothies these days, tasted it said ‘Oh that’s good’ and drank the rest quickly. Chloe asks me every day since she tried it for one and has expressed that it’s her new favorite. Even my ex husband tried it the other day and said it was good (this is a big thing btw, as he is not really a smoothie guy and particular about tastes). I was quite pleased with the results and I think I drove my parents a little crazy that first day I made it when I kept saying throughout the day how good it was and how impressed with myself for creating it. Well it was good!

So if you’ve got a festive theme going over the holidays or simply want to try out a great new smoothie recipe, give this one a go! If you find it a little tart for your tastes just add more stevia when making it. Then come back here and comment telling me how you like it!

Orange Cranberry Smoothie

2 bananasIMG_6831

1 c. frozen cranberries

1 c. un sweetened almond-cashew yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. orange juice

1/2 of 1 g packet of stevia

handful of spinach* (optional)

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Garnish with slice of orange and a few cranberries if desired. Pour into 8 oz glasses and serve.

*if you would like a bright pink smoothie do not add spinach as it will darken it. I love tossing in that bit of green as it is a great way to get those greens in a quick and easy way. And you don’t even notice it’s there!

Serves 3 (makes 3 – 8 oz servings)

Bananas, Bananas and More Bananas

We go through a lot of bananas at our house. We basically use them in smoothies and general eating but we make a lot of smoothies. In the morning, I make 2 smoothies for myself, a green smoothie of some sort and a fruit one for later in the day. Then I make a peanut butter smoothie for Matthew and the babies usually have a banana each for breakfast. These all include bananas so by the time breakfast is over we have had at least 5 or 6. Then in the afternoon I will make more smoothies for the kids, a green smoothie of some kind, or more like a chocolate smoothie with greens in it. Believe me this is a great way to get greens into the kids! I find the twins especially are more apt to drink their green smoothie than eat the vegetables off of their plate. But I digress, we go through a lot of bananas. We are out at least twice a week buying 12-15 so that we have enough for a few days but not too many that they go brown before we eat them.

Bananas are a great source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, as well as a source of iron. As a result they help increase strength and reduce stress and is an instant source of energy. This makes them a great nutritious snack and natural sweetener (often you can use banana to sweeten muffins or cakes instead of using sugar). Plus they are a great ‘grab and go’ snack.

Though we eat a lot of bananas sometimes we do find that they go brown before we eat them all, and personally once a banana is too soft or ripe I cannot eat it. I don’t like the texture, it’s too mushy. So as a result I use them in recipes, like banana bread and banana muffins. And when I have too many brown bananas I toss them in the freezer to use later.

I have always loved banana bread, it is one of my favorite treats and I recently found an excellent sugar free recipe in the Clean Eating magazine. It uses flax seed and flax oil as well as other tasty ingredients. It is dairy free too; so I tried it out. It was the best banana bread that I have ever tasted! It was so moist and delicious, it melts in your mouth.

I also really enjoy banana muffins as they taste just like banana bread, and have a great recipe from my mother. I have been able to adjust the recipe to meet our new dietary requirements of no sugar or dairy and they taste delicious. The first time I made them I used date sugar as the sugar replacement and though they were very good, they were even better when I tried the  recipe using agave nectar instead. Mhmmm, they turned out so moist and fluffy! They turned out so well that I made them again within a week, not because I had leftover bananas that I needed to use, but because they were such a hit.

So I am sharing with you the banana muffin recipe with agave nectar (the banana bread recipe will come soon). Give it a whirl and try not to eat them all in one sitting! This sugar and dairy free recipe is sure to please everyone in the family!

 

Banana Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. agave nectar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 large bananas

1 egg

1/3 c. melted Earth Balance

Mash bananas. Add agave nectar and slightly beaten egg. Then add melted Earth Balance. Mix in dry ingredients and mix but do not beat.

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins