It seems like 100 percent fruit juice should be a win-win. Kids usually love it, and it's made from fruit...so that has to be better than soda or sports drinks, right? Well, yes and no.
Because 100 percent fruit juice is made from, um, fruit, it can pack a hearty dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But, since it's only the juice and not the whole fruit it's missing the beneficial fiber found in oranges or strawberries or pineapple chunks or whatever juice your kid prefers. And, without the fiber, it's basically just...vitamin-filled sugar. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4-6 oz. of juice a day for kids ages 1-6 (about a 1/2 to 2/3 cup). But pediatric dietitian Natalia Stasenko suggests approaching juice as a special occasion drink to create more structure around its consumption.
This is true even of juices made from vegetables. You get the vitamins from the veg, but not the fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and makes us feel full.
Happily, there is an easy solution to the juice dilemma, and it involves simply pushing a button on your blender. Whole-food juices are sweet, delicious, and nourishing. Because juice is so popular with kids these were the recipes I was most excited to explore in my new cookbook Smoothie-licious.
This recipe is one of my absolute favorites. Watermelon makes a supremely satisfying juice, and adding strawberries pumps up the Vitamin C and fiber. If you're not a fan of cilantro, substitute mint or just leave out an herb altogether. You can blend up a batch to accompany breakfast or to cool down on a hot summer afternoon (the 4th of July, perhaps?). Feel free to blend in advance; just stir before serving.
Strawberry-Watermelon Agua Fresca(Makes 2 juices)
2 cups watermelon cubes ½ cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen) ½ teaspoon lime juice 4 sprigs cilantro
- Add the watermelon, strawberries, lime juice, and cilantro to the blender.
- Cover and blend until smooth and frothy, about 30 seconds.
Excerpted from Smoothie-Licious, © 2015 by Jenna Helwig. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo by Lauren Volo.
Jenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents. She is the author of the cookbooks Real Baby Food and Smoothie-licious and the mother of a 9 year-old girl who is an excellent smoothie and juice taste-tester.