Thursday, December 18, 2008

Smoothies

In addition to Flax Bran Muffins, one of my regular work morning breakfasts has been smoothies. I like to make them with frozen berries to get a nice, slushy texture. As I'm not fond of banana (a common smoothie 'smoother'), I always use yogurt. These days, I haven't been eating smoothies much. However, I've been searching and searching for new breakfast ideas for Elspeth.

As wonderful an eater as she has been, she seems to have very strong ideas about how she'd like the food presented to her at a given meal (or at a given moment in that meal). For example, sometimes she really only wants food in chunks that she can pick up from her tray, while other times she would rather select a chunk from a dish you offer her or have a larger piece she can use to practice her biting technique. She'll often reject a spoon, though sometimes that's just because she wants to have a spoon of her own. We get into a cute rhythm where she 'feeds' herself with the spoon but becomes impatient with how little she can manage to get in there on her own, so she'll accept a bite from me in the intervals. One of her preferred ways to take in food these days is by drinking it, hence my newfound appreciation for smoothies. I can't believe it took me this long to think of it!

The inspiration for the toddler breakfast smoothies came from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Whole Food Recipes for Personal and Planetary Health by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre (the same cookbook that gave us the delicious Turkey and Wild Rice Soup recipe). I had also looked in Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair, but I must say I found it pretty useless--my general experience with that book, unfortunately. Segersten and Malterre didn't let me down. They have a large number of smoothie recipes, all of them non-dairy. Many of these recipes call for 'weird' ingredients such as greens or lettuce, which I haven't tried yet, but am not opposed to at all. Well, I'm not opposed to offering it to Elspeth and seeing what she thinks; I'm too strange about food to try them myself, though I bet Evan would.

I tried two different smoothies this week and Elspeth loved them both. Of course, I didn't follow the recipes as written, so instead of copying them, I'll just give a basic recipe with the different options.

With no further ado, here are two smoothie recipes.

YOGURT BERRY SMOOTHIE
Makes 1 adult or 2 child servings

INGREDIENTS
1 c. plain yogurt (non fat or whole both work)
1/2 c. frozen mixed berries (cherries are the only berry-type fruit that doesn't work; for whatever reason, the uncooked cherry/yogurt combination should be delicious but is terribly lacking)
1-2 tsp sugar or to taste (you could also use agave nectar but molasses would be too strong-tasting)
1 TBSP ground flaxseed or pumpkin seed or wheatgerm (or a combo)
Milk to thin, if needed

DIRECTIONS
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until the berries are blended (strawberries can resist the blades and pulsing works best for them). Then run on high for a bit (30 seconds to 1 minute). Thin with milk (cow's milk or non-dairy 'milk') if desired. Serve.

NON-DAIRY FRUITY NUT SMOOTHIE
Makes 1 adult or 2 child servings. Vary the types of fruit and nuts depending on your mood and preference; the basic recipe stays the same. The recipe doesn't call for any sweetener, but if you feel it needs some, you could add some evaporated cane juice or agave nectar. Vanilla extract might also be nice. You could even try some cinnamon, ginger or clove. You could also add your Omega-3 fatty acids by putting in some fish oil in lieu of the flaxseed. To my mind, the only thing missing from this smoothie is complex carbohydrate. Next time I make one, I'm going to throw in a large spoonful of Hippie Grain Porridge (my only success from Feeding the Whole Family, as it happens, though I changed the cooking method significantly).

I'm editing this post to add a comment. It occurred to me that, if you're looking for ways of getting more 'good' fat into your or your child's diet, you could consider adding 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to the smoothie. You'd have to taste and maybe boost the berry content to offset the avocado flavor. I bet you'd have an incredibly smooth beverage, however.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c raw almonds or cashews (cashews make the smoothest smoothie but both are nice)
1/4 c water
1/2 c water, non-dairy milk such as rice or oat, or fruit juice
1/2 cored pear or banana in chunks
1/4 c frozen berries or cherries (blueberries, huckleberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries or a mix of the above--in this context cherries are fine)
1 TBSP ground flaxseed and/or pumpkin seed or wheat germ or a combo
A couple of torn leaves of washed spinach, chard or kale if you're brave

DIRECTIONS
  1. The night before you're going to make your smoothie, combine the nuts with the 1/4 cup of water in a small dish or jar. Leave at room temperature overnight. This make the nuts much easier to blend--you're essentially making your own nut milk
  2. In the morning when you're ready to make the smoothie, drain and rinse the nuts
  3. Place nuts in the blender with 1/2 cup (new) water, juice or non-dairy 'milk'. The original recipe only calls for water, but I'm guessing that the other liquids would work, too, though they're not really necessary
  4. Blend until the nut milk is smooth and creamy
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse/blend until very well mixed
  6. Thin with more water/milk/juice if desired
  7. Serve and watch your little one get smoothie all over her upper lip, nose and forehead

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