The Scoop on Food

5 Smoothie Secrets from The Blender Girl

This is a guest post by Jenna Helwig, food editor at Parents.

My daughter and I are smoothie junkies, and judging by the proliferation of smoothie cookbooks and smoothie shops we're not the only ones. Thankfully, this is one addiction that can be super-healthy for kids and adults. A classic smoothie of fruit and milk, either cow's or non-dairy, provides a boatload of vitamins, fiber, and protein (if you're using cow's milk). But with a few tweaks, we can get even more nutritional bang for our buck—without scaring off the kids.

For ideas on how to make our smoothies even more healthy, but no less tasty, I turned to Tess Masters, a.k.a. The Blender Girl. Tess recently published her first cookbook with 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes including several smoothies. Even better for us smoothie fanatics is her new app, also called The Blender Girl, which is available through the iTunes app store ($4.99). The app features 70 recipes with a new one added each week. Tess kindly shared a few of her top tips for parents.

Tess Masters, a.k.a. The Blender Girl
Tess's Smoothie Secrets:

  • Fill your freezer with frozen berries, mango, peaches, pineapple, bananas, and—yes—cauliflower, broccoli, peas, and carrots. These combine for sweet delicious flavors, creamy textures, and beautiful bright colors.
  • One cup of mild leafy greens like spinach, romaine, and kale will go into any sweet blend undetected. Add vibrant crimson characters like cranberry, pomegranate, and grape juices, and beets, berries, and red grapes for a vibrant color rather than a murky brown. Or go in the other direction and hide the dark greens in chocolate smoothies that combine milk, cacao, and banana.
  • Unsweetened purees like pear and apricot, as well as pumpkin butter and applesauce are great flavor and nutrition boosters in smoothies.
  • Frozen vegetables make excellent sneaky additions to smoothie. Our taste buds are temperature sensitive and veggies are a lot milder when they're frozen. In small quantities, you won't even taste them. A quarter cup of frozen cauliflower, broccoli, peas, spinach, and carrots goes into most sweet blends undetected.
  • Make murky-looking green smoothies more appealing to children by adding 2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 to 2 fresh or frozen bananas for a delicious chocolate milkshake.

Ready to put this advice into action? Try this sweet and creamy recipe from Tess's new app. Tell the kids there's kale blended in, or just call it a banana smoothie. Remember what you named it, though, because your kids are sure to ask for it again.

Tastes-Like-Ice-Cream Kale Smoothie
Tastes-Like-Ice-Cream Kale Smoothie

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for up to 4 hours (if you have time)

1 cup torn-up curly green kale leaves (1 or 2 large leaves with stalk removed)

2 ripe bananas, fresh or frozen

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups ice cubes (a little less if using frozen bananas)

Put all of the ingredients into your blender in the order listed and puree for about a minute, until smooth and creamy. Tweak flavors to taste (you may like a bit more kale or sweetener).

Makes 2 servings

Find more smoothie recipes perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids