Your kids all eat vegetables willingly, and only ingest naturally-occurring sugars, and never eat processed foods with preservatives, right?
OK, come back to me when you’ve stopped laughing (or crying… whichever comes first), and I’ll break down this magical Hidden Vegetable Smoothie your toddler will LOVE.
How Do You Make Your Toddler Eat Vegetables?
My kids are definitely not perfect eaters. Actually, let me amend that: my toddler is definitely not a perfect eater.
The baby is in that glorious sweet spot where she’s just so enamored by the mere idea of solid food that she’ll eat anything and everything you put in front of her with the ferocious intensity of a grizzly bear (for better and for worse – she’s dairy intolerant, so that backfires when she gets her hands on her big brother’s yogurt, or Goldfish, or waffle…).
My 3.5-year-old, on the other hand, fights us on pretty much anything that isn’t a chicken nugget or nutrient-free snack. Actually getting him to eat a vegetable requires expert-level negotiating, involving at least one pack of gummy fruit snacks, one chocolate chip cookie, and one hour of screen time.
However, I’ve discovered the trick to getting real food into him. I’d like to say it was my sheer brilliance and instinct as a mom that led me to this moment of ingenuity, but alas, it was not.
It was my own selfishness and desperation for nourishment.
A few months ago, I started making smoothies for myself in the mornings before work, so I could chug them on my commute without disturbance.
Our Veggie Smoothie Showdown
The morning typically goes something like this:
I pile fruits and spinach and oats and protein into a blender haphazardly to make myself a nutrient-rich, filling smoothie, then stick it in the fridge while I get the kids up and ready for school.
As I’m coming down the stairs after getting the baby dressed, I catch the toddler scaling the refrigerator shelves trying to reach my healthy but delicious smoothie from the top shelf and chase him off.
I spend the entire 8-minute drive to daycare listening to my son beg for sips of the smoothie.
“I just want 3 sips, mama. 1, 2, 3 sips, then I will give it back.”
I tell him no, that it’s mama’s smoothie, and we don’t want to share germs, and of course I can’t hand it to him anyways because I’m driving and that wouldn’t be safe.
But we all know that nothing torments a toddler more than telling him he can’t have something.
Inevitably, we hit a red light, and I’m left with no choice but to hand over the smoothie or risk a DEFCON-5 level tantrum.
He proceeds to chug a quarter of it before I snatch it out of his grubby hands, while he laughs maniacally at his triumph.
So, after a few months of this little ~routine~, I started just making my little fruit and veggie smoothie a little bit bigger, and portioning some into his own cup, which, by toddler logic, makes him some kind of king.
Little does that toddler know, it’s the healthiest thing he’s ever eaten.
I mash all sorts of goodies into my smoothies: bananas, antioxidant-filled berries, spinach, old-fashioned oats, vegan protein powder, almond milk… they’re truly jam-packed with nutrients, fiber, vegetables, and all the things toddlers NEED, but you’d never know it.
And, since it’s totally dairy-free, the baby can sneak a few sips too, now that she’s picked up on this little game.
The Best Blender for Making Creamy Veggie Smoothies
One of my favorite inventions is the personal “bullet” blender. My husband just got me a Nutri-Ninja for Mother’s Day, after my old bullet blender finally bit the dust last month. I am IN LOVE with this blender.
Not sponsored, I just truly love it.
It gets my smoothies so creamy, even when they’re loaded with fruits and vegetables and fiber, and the IQ blending does a great job of knowing when to pulse and when to let the ingredients settle, so it gets it all perfectly blended with just one touch – which means I can start my smoothie, put all the ingredients away and wipe down the counter, and by the time I’m done, my smoothie is ready and breakfast is cleaned up. It’s perfect.
How to Make a Veggie Smoothie Your Toddler will Love
Anyway, this recipe pretty much couldn’t be easier. Just dump all your fruits and vegetables of choice into the blender (see below for variations), add your old-fashioned oats, protein and milk, and mix it up.
If you’d like it to be a little thinner, add more almond milk. If you’d like it to be a little thicker, add a few more berries or another tablespoon of oats. You can really customize it to your liking.
Of course, the key to this whole thing is to pretend this smoothie is all for you. If you make it with the intention of giving it to your toddler, they will never go for it.
But you can trust that the second you sit comfortably on the couch and take just one delightful nutrient-filled sip, that toddler is gonna be on you like white on rice.
And you’ll oh-so-reluctantly hand over his portion like he’s getting the gift of a lifetime, all the while smirking because you know he’s actually getting his green veggies and fiber and protein. In your face, toddler! Add a point to mama’s win column.
(You know you’re keeping score, and you know you’re losing.)
Hidden Veggie Smoothie Flavors to Try
I typically make banana-berry smoothies, largely because mixed berries are the cheapest and most widely available frozen fruit. But my toddler also loves these combinations:
- Banana-Blueberry (our favorite)
- Banana-Pineapple-Coconut (use coconut milk instead of almond milk)
I always use banana because I love the creaminess it adds, but if you’re not a fan of that flavor, then swap it for something else! You really can’t go wrong here.
You can always swap out spinach for kale or another dark leafy green. I’ve really never been able to taste the green in it; the berries and vanilla protein far outweigh the flavor.
Can I substitute the almond milk with something else?
Of course! I like almond milk because it’s light and adds a bit of calcium, but you could always use regular milk, soy milk, or even oat milk. If you’re just not a fan of milks at all; you can use water just to thin it out, but you’ll lose some of the creaminess.
What else can I add to supercharge this smoothie?
Basically, anything you want. Flax seed, brewer’s yeast (for you breastfeeding mamas), chia seeds, collagen peptides, turmeric… go wild! Just make sure to add another splash of liquid to make sure it all blends smoothly.
Can I freeze this smoothie for later?
If your toddler somehow doesn’t suck down this entire thing in 5 minutes flat and demand you make him another one (surely mine’s not the only bossy little punk, right?), then yes! Pop a lid on it, and stick it in the freezer for up to a week.
When you’re ready to drink it, just take it out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge for a few hours. If you’re in a rush, you can leave it on the counter until it’s soft enough to break into chunks, and then just drop it into your blender again until it’s drinkable.
- 1 banana, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup mixed berries, frozen
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 - 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, uncooked
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- Add all ingredients to blender.
- Mix for approximately one minute, or until smooth.
- Pretend smoothie is all for you, but reluctantly pour some out into a separate glass for your kid. Enjoy! 🙂
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Let me know what your favorite smoothie combinations are in the comments! And if you have any other tried-and-true methods of stuffing nutrients into defiant toddlers, PLEASE SHARE!