Today I showed up at school without a smoothie. There was, however, a shamrock cookie. It did not go well.
Some background: For the last two months, I’ve been bringing homemade fruit smoothies* for Tess when I pick her up from school. She started full-day kindergarten last fall, and though she brings a hearty snack and lunch each day, by 2:30 p.m. she’s wiped. Until recently, this meant I couldn’t be sure whether I’d be meeting T-Jekyll or T-Hyde upon pick-up. Then I hit on the brilliant idea to bring her a smoothie each day. Instant personality improvement along with the energy boost. I walk in, pat her on the head, hand her the smoothie and she drinks. We pack up her stuff and go on our pleasant way.
I’d been making a batch of smoothies nearly every other night anyway, for quick school-day breakfasts, and I usually had leftovers, so it was easy to fill a thermos in the afternoon. Today, though, there weren’t leftovers and I was crunched for time, so I gambled, hoping for Jekyll.
Except today was St. Patrick’s Day. And though her school is a pretty progressive place where the kids bring their own food and healthy eating is encouraged, holidays usually involve sugar. Today the kids made shamrock cut-out cookies, two each. Tess ate one and saved the other in a bag in her cubby.
When I arrived smoothie-less, she was in a mood. End-of-day mood, sugar-cookie mood, I don’t know. But it was a mood. I was trying to move things along when she asked for the second cookie. I told her no, we were going right home, she could eat something good for her body when we got there. That was so not the answer she wanted to hear. Which is how I ended up with a child screaming in the school hallway for a cookie.
Having just launched this blog — and knowing that her teachers and classmates’ parents were aware of that fact — I was feeling pretty self-conscious about my blogging cred. On the other hand, my Smoothie Hypothesis was about to be quite loudly and convincingly validated.
“You should have brought my smoothie!” Tess yelled at me, tears streaming. “Then this wouldn’t have happened!”
Oh my girl, you make me proud.
How have your kids let you know that it’s sinking in? That they understand how food affects them?
* A typical concoction: plain yogurt, wheat germ, flaxseed oil, banana, frozen berries and orange juice.
I just bookmarked your blog…via KOA… FYI – we are big smoothie fans here and when the main ingredients run out (and there are no creative, healthy, alternatives) I do get a houseful of disgruntled children. Good thing I live very close to a wegmans 🙂 I think it is one of the best snacks for kids. Especially the youngest, who is picky about certain food combinations — if all the goodness is blended in he just thinks its a milkshake or something. Success!
Maria, thanks so much for stopping by. What’s especially fun about smoothies is that, if you’re concerned about acceptance, you can add an ingredient, have your child taste it and then tell her/him after the fact what was in there. This way the kid has already acknowledged how good it tastes, and it becomes a fun game of, wow, isn’t it so cool that spinach/wheat germ/whatever was in there? BTW, raw spinach is a great addition to fruit smoothies. Very mild taste, so it still tastes like a fruit smoothie.
I never would have thought to add raw spinach….thanks for the idea.
Hi Maria. YOu can add any leafy green. Spinach and Kale are my favs. One word of advise…..make that the first ingredient you put in with your liquid base and blend the hell out of it…..otherwise you may end up with spinach chunks. Also, it does turn your smoothie funky colors depending on what kinds of fruits you put in. I’ve had colors ranging from dark forest green to mud brown to blachish-purple.
OK so now maybe Tess can convince Mackenzie how good smoothies are! I can’t get her to try one. What’s the trick? I agree…..it is amazing to hear Mack turn down food because she knows she can’t have what is in it. It’s even more amazing to hear her ask if there is dairy or food dye in something when it is offered.
What is it about smoothies that M doesn’t like? Flavor, texture, just the idea? Tell me more…
Angie, saw your Facebook message about this after you’d signed off. You said M likes all the ingredients in your smoothies, but has a problem with the texture. That’s a tricky one. I wonder if using a straw would help, or else blending it super smooth.
Ha! This post is so great!
The other day Q (6) and S (3) each got to choose a piece of leftover candy from a birthday party a while back. Q chose the fun dip (i know…) S then wanted hers too but on first glance of seeing the bright pink sugar she started actually whining and begging me to take it away. She was grossed out! Meanwhile Q is getting bright green in the mouth from his fun dip (very becoming) and S looks at him with her smarties in hand (apparently the *not* gross option) and says to Q, “that’s really bad for your body.” Q says back to her, “So is what you’re eating.”
I figure it’s good that they are at least thinking about this stuff when they enjoy the rare treat!
Love this! T does that, too — eats something awful with full awareness that it’s awful. Then again, don’t we all? Whenever T really wants to eat something with no redeeming nutritional value, I tell her, “OK, but does it taste good? Because the only reason to eat something that’s not good for your body is if it tastes really, really good.” Of course she always tells me it does taste good, but then she almost never actually finishes whatever it is, so…
There was a time when I was much more disciplined about keeping sugar out of the house. I found that my kids thought that yogurt was a treat, and that frosting was too sweet. As my discipline slipped (due to pregnancy cravings, new teachers for the kids, a busier schedule etc) my kids have been craving and demanding more and more “junk” and now think they taste good. I suspect that even “fun dip” would be well tolerated (eek!). So I guess, my two cents would be that consistency is crucial because taste buds seem to be very accepting to change. My question to everyone is what you do when everyone else thinks that every holiday requires goody bags and candy treats? What do you do when eery birthday party serves twinkie-grade pizza and neon-frosted cupcakes?
P.S. Would love to hear about other smoothie recipes, recipe books or blogs. I have one kiddo who drinks the berry-bananna-organge juice variety daily, and another who won’t event try a “milkshake” version even if I offer to put in a scoop of ice-cream.
Nipa, I hear ya about the holiday-candy issue. My grandma is just like that. If my kids get candy on any holidays, they have a special place to put it. They are allowed between 1 & 3 small pieces IF they eat all of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They may never go into their candy for a mid-day snack, etc. My husband and I maintain that strictness because we want them to understand that candy is not something that your body needs. If they want to have a small treat, then they must take care of their bodies first with healthy stuff. This was a HUGE challenge during family gatherings. (My grandma used to let me eat sugar out of the bag with a spoon……HELLO!!!) We do not waver from the rules NO MATTER WHAT! There was one year my son didn’t get a piece of b-day cake because he didn’t eat his lunch or dinner! He understood why and he accepted it. I try to encourage good choices at b-day parties. My kids usually are the ones going for the fresh veggies and fruit at parties and thats perfectly fine with me. They will always ask first for anything else that might be there like chips, crackers, etc. My daughter can’t have dairy or food dies so life has been a bit easier. My son seems to repect that and many times he won’t eat things he knows she can’t have.
If you are interested in more smoothie recipes, I have a blog called email@example.com and I also have a Face Book page of the same name. The profile on my FB page is of a boy pouring out a glass of milk. If you go to my blog, there is a link to my FB page. I have a lot of smootie recipes on there. More of them are on FB tho. There are a ton of ideas for smoothies. I’ll throw pretty much anything into my blender really.
Thanks for the great ideas and the smoothie recipes. We also have “candy tins” for the kids but I do have to be much more strict about saving them for occasional post-dinner treats, and tossing out the excess. Are you eating gluten-free too? Part of my slip up on junk food was due to my older son’s celiac disease diagnosis … I felt guilty about saying no to ice-cream when he could no longer have the wheat snacks and treats he used to have. I’m off to check out more of your smoothie recipes ….
Nipa, we handle holiday candy/goodie bags much the same as you, I think. The grossest stuff — anything with trans fats, HFCS, food dyes or gelatin (it’s a veg thing) — gets tossed. T is involved in this, and understands why we toss those things, and it’s generally not a problem because she’s first and foremost a chocolate girl. (Not sure where she gets that from.) She does like Smarties and peppermint candies, so even though they have food dye, I chill on those, since we’re talking a few times a year. What’s left goes in a candy jar, which we keep out of sight. After that, if T asks for something from the jar, we decide case by case. If she’s had other junk that day or it’s close to bedtime, we tell her no. Otherwise we let her pick a piece. Honestly, though, we might dip into that thing once every month or two. Since it’s out of sight, she just forgets about it. So it’s really not that much of an issue.
For birthday parties/holiday gatherings, I let her eat the cake or whatever is being served, but I try to casually ask her how it tastes, how it makes her feel, that sort of thing. I don’t get weird or pushy about it. I just try to remind her to listen to her body. Sometimes she gobbles the whole thing, but lots of times she eats a little and is satisfied. So I figure something is getting through.
I think the most important thing is to not ban this stuff outright, because then it becomes forbidden fruit. That’s why we’re so big on talking, talking, talking. If she knows why we think a food isn’t good for her, then she feels empowered and is more likely to make a smart decision. That sounds totally self-help cheeseball, I know, but we’ve truly seen it work.
I’m thinking Angie’s smoothie recipes should keep you busy for awhile.
Hi Nipa. My daughter is not 100% gluten-free. I’d say she is about 90%. She does have pb sammies for lunch most days but I try to use sprouted bread as much as possible. I am gluten-frre & dairy-free due for health reasons…..I have RA and I have found that eliminating these things from my diet helps a great deal. If you are intersted in trying something new, Tempt by Living Harvest makes hemp milk ice cream. It is to die for. I actually dont buy it often because I can not exhibit self control around it! I occasionally buy Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream for my daughter. Both brands are gluten free. Don’t get me wrong, its not much healthier but it’s also not dairy, which can wreak havoc on your system.
Thanks Chris and Angie for the suggestions. I think the “out of mind, out of sight” approach is a really good one (for tired, pregnant moms as well as kids!) In a way, Omar’s CD makes it easier for all of us to stay away from the nasty party/holiday stuff … I can take healthier gluten free versions without offending anyone!