January 11, 2017

Learning to Love Green Smoothies

When my older daughter was about 8 months old, I became pregnant with her little sister. We were anxious, but excited! One of my earliest and most pressing concerns was keeping up my milk supply until she was at least a year old, and this was really a challenge with the hormonal changes of pregnancy. For me, this meant I needed to make sure I was taking in enough extra calories for both the needs of pregnancy AND breastfeeding.

One thing I started doing that I found really helpful and delicious was making smoothies. I would make up a big batch in our Baby Bullet in the morning, and it would be enough for both breakfast and a snack for the day. Initially, I just packed it with yogurt, fruit, and peanut butter. It was a good source of healthy calories for me but it was also high in fiber, so it kept me full between meals.

I still enjoy my smoothies now that I’m breastfeeding my second daughter. I’ve experimented over time with my “recipe,” and although it never really tastes the same, I have it down to a pretty good science. (I put recipe in quotations because I don’t measure anymore – I got a feel for throwing in a little of this and little of that, so I can make them much more efficiently now.) My latest and best addition has been spinach and kale. Thinking of giving it a try, but a green fruit smoothie freaks you out? I felt the same way! But I took it slow, and I made it work for me and still taste delicious. Bonus: my 2 year old loves my smoothies and always begs for some when she sees me take out the Bullet!

Here are my main ingredients and tips for making a healthy smoothie your whole family will love:

Start by blending together yogurt, a liquid, a banana, and a handful of frozen fruit. I like to use greek vanilla yogurt with at least a little fat. Depending on what I have in my fridge at the time, I’ll add a dash of orange juice or apple cider – just enough to help everything blend together without the blender having to work too hard. I also usually keep a frozen banana in the freezer in case we’re running low, and I stock up on fresh blueberries and strawberries when they’re on sale so I can freeze them and have them on hand for the winter. If I have some other fresh fruit at the time, I’ll also add that in. Mangoes are one of my favorites to change up the taste.

Next, add a teaspoon of peanut butter and a generous handful of spinach or a medium stalk of kale. If you’ve never added greens to a smoothie, I suggest starting small and adding in more as you become more comfortable with it. I honestly don’t notice any difference in the flavor even when my smoothie is 100% green in color. And neither does my toddler!

Since I’m breastfeeding, I also like to add about a tablespoon of flax seed and a teaspoon of Brewer’s Yeast. Any more than a teaspoon, and the flavor turns much too bitter for my taste. Flax seed is much more forgiving and mostly just changes texture more than flavor. I know there are a lot of other supplement options for breastfeeding and other uses, but these are the two that I’m comfortable using. As a general rule, I stick to ingredients that I would normally get from foods and avoid branded or herbal supplements – but do whatever you’re comfortable with!

A few other ingredients that I used to blend in but have kind of fallen away from (mostly just because I forget) include oats, Ovaltine, and honey.

My best advice for smoothies (green or not) is to just play around with ingredients and figure out what flavor and consistency you like the most. So go ahead – have some fun!

written by VHS contributor// Kendra St. Hilaire
@marebearmom