Many parents worry that their child isn’t eating enough, or that they are not eating enough of the "right" things, especially during phases of strong food preferences or picky eating. These phases are common in kids, but that doesn't mean they’re easy. Quickly changing preferences or having a picky eater can make mealtimes challenging and sometimes even stressful.
So we're here to help you de-stress with some delicious and nutritious ways to get lots of good nutrition into your little one with one of the best defenses against picky eating - smoothies!
Smoothies can pack a real nutritional punch while keeping a flavor and texture that little ones love, so we’re sharing 11 smoothie ideas for picky eaters. Each is full of ingredients to help nourish and satisfy your little one, no matter how opinionated they might be.
How to Make Nutritious Smoothie
Smoothie recipes don’t have to be complicated. A simple formula will help you create a great smoothie that tastes great and is full of good, balanced nutrition. Smoothies are traditionally very carb heavy, often high in sugar, and can lead to problematic blood sugar spikes and dips. So to avoid that, simply include ingredients from each of the following categories:
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- Protein: Protein is made of amino acids which help to build and repair muscles and bones and make hormones and enzymes. It also helps to keep you full. Grass Fed Collagen is relatively tasteless and backed with great protein. We also like Grass Fed Beef Isolate or Grass Fed Whey (if dairy is tolerated).
- Fat: Fat is essential for nutrient absorption, brain development, hormone regulation, immune system support, and satiety. We like avocado, coconut oil or milk, nuts, and seeds.
- Fiber: Fiber helps with digestion and regularity in little ones. We especially like to include fiber in the form of veggies. Low-sugar berries, beets, pumpkin, spinach, and seeds like chia and flax are other good sources.
- Liquid: Liquid helps your smoothie come together, and it can also add some additional flavor and nutrition. You can use water, a nut- or seed-based milk like almond milk (choose one without added gums, fillers, or sugar), or our Organic A2 Whole Milk Toddler Formula.
A quick rule of thumb is a 1:1:2 protein to fat to carb ratio. For instance, our Dairy Free Smoothies have 5g protein, 5g fat, and no more than 10g of carbs. This allows for the sweetness and the fiber of carbs, while keeping blood sugar stable.
Pro-Tip, you can also use smoothies as a way to give your kiddo vitamins, supplements, or medicines. Because smoothies often have such a strong flavor, it’s easy to sneak in that not-so-tasty tincture or vitamin mix you know they need.
11 Best Healthy Protein Smoothies for Picky Eaters
The following smoothies for picky eaters are simple to make with just a few ingredients and a blender.
And of course, we had to include our very own Serenity Kids’ dairy-free protein smoothies. They are thoughtfully made with certified organic veggies, healthy fats, and grass-fed collagen protein - no prep, no blender, and no cleanup required! They are also third-party tested for heavy metals.
1. Strawberry avocado smoothie
Combine avocado and a couple of strawberries with your choice of liquid and some collagen protein powder for a simple smoothie that screams summer.
2. Chocolate peanut butter protein smoothie
This one is great for picky eaters since it tastes just like chocolate milk! Just combine peanut butter (or almond butter) with cacao, collagen protein (or a spoonful of Greek yogurt if dairy is tolerated), and your liquid of choice.
3. Dreamsicle smoothie
Get ready for summer with this super easy, mess-free frozen smoothie popsicle! This healthy smoothie uses one of our Serenity Kids pouches to boost nutrition. Get the recipe here!
4. Berry green smoothie
Green smoothies are great for picky eaters since they can encourage kids to eat veggies that can be otherwise tough to accept. Combine a handful of spinach with a handful of fresh or frozen berries (blueberries are best for a smooth texture), then add collagen, nut butter and your milk of choice.
5. Blueberry basil smoothie
Smoothies can be a great place to introduce herbs, which can help influence taste preferences during the important flavor window. Combine a handful of baby spinach and a few leaves of fresh basil with some frozen blueberries and nut butter. Then add your protein and liquid of choice.
6. Strawberry and coconut milk protein smoothie
Coconut milk is full of healthy fats and it tastes great blended with a few strawberries (for some vitamin C!) and collagen protein powder.
7. Chocolate cherry protein smoothie
Combine a few frozen cherries with cacao, avocado, and chia seeds for a rich and creamy smoothie that tastes like dessert. Can also be made with a little tart cherry juice which can help with sleep at night.
8. Berry butternut protein smoothie
No smoothie recipe is needed for this one. Our Serenity Kids Berry Butternut Smoothie combines coconut cream with greens, butternut squash, collagen, and a touch of berries for a delicious low-sugar smoothie that you can take on the go.
9. Sweet potato spice protein smoothie
One of our favorite smoothies for picky eaters, our Serenity Kids Sweet Potato Spice Smoothie combines sweet potato, collagen, and coconut cream with ginger and cardamom.
10. Pumpkin spice protein smoothie
Even picky eaters will love this portable smoothie that combines pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, beet, collagen, and coconut cream with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
11. Beet and carrot protein smoothie
This healthy smoothie combines carrots and beets with coconut cream, collagen, vanilla, and ginger for a lightly sweet smoothie with only 4 grams of sugar!
We get a lot of questions from our community about smoothies, so we're sharing our most commonly asked questions here!
1. Are smoothies good for kids?
Smoothies made with balanced nutrition are great for kids! Many smoothies are mostly fruit, and some even have added sugar, which can lead to problematic blood sugar spikes and dips. We like to fill our smoothies with nutritious, balanced ingredients that nourish little bellies and keep kids satisfied without a big sugar rush. The trick is to include a nice balance of fat, protein, fiber, and carbs.
Smoothies are also a great way for kids to try new foods and an easy and tasty way to get protein, healthy fats, and veggies into your child's diet.
2. What is a good snack to serve with a smoothie?
Smoothies can be a good snack by themselves (as long as they include a balance of protein, fat, and carbs), but if you're looking to create a larger snack, smoothies are paired well with foods that also contain protein, fat, or fiber. We list some of our favorite snacks for picky eaters here, including our own Grain-free Puffs!
3. Can you have smoothies instead of meals?
If smoothies are so great, can they stand in as a meal replacement? Smoothies can make a good meal, but only if they are well-balanced with plenty of protein and fat so that they are nourishing and satisfying. Breakfast is typically the easiest meal of the day to make a meal out of a smoothie, but a healthy smoothie can be great any time of day, especially for a picky eater.
Smoothie bowls can also be a good option to make a smoothie feel more like a meal. Simply add less liquid and swap as many fresh ingredients for frozen so that it is thick enough to eat with a spoon.
4. How do you include protein in a smoothie?
Our favorite ways to add protein to a smoothie include grass-fed collagen, grass-fed beef isolate protein (we like the one from Kelly Leveque), and bone broth protein (we like Paleovalley). Grass-fed whey protein isolate or full-fat grass-fed yogurt are also good if dairy is tolerated. While animal proteins are the most bio-available, if you are looking for a plant protein, look for a pea protein or hemp protein that is thoughtfully produced and thoroughly tested and does not include any other additives or industrial seed oils. We do not recommend rice or soy protein.
5. What to put in a smoothie to make it delicious?
We've been clear that protein and fat are key to a healthy smoothie, but how do you make a smoothie taste absolutely delicious without a ton of sugar? We like to use starchy veggies like pumpkin, butternut squash, beet, or sweet potato and a touch of vanilla extract. In addition, frozen berries are low in sugar and add a lightly sweet flavor alongside fiber and loads of other vitamins and antioxidants.
6. Which vegetables are good for smoothies?
Leafy greens like baby spinach are great and kids generally can't even taste a handful when you include other flavorful ingredients. Frozen zucchini and cauliflower can add a great creamy texture and thickness that is often achieved by bananas but with far less sugar. We also love steamed root veggies like beet and sweet potato and squashes like pumpkin and butternut squash.
7. Can I “spike” a smoothie with vitamins, supplements, or medicine?
Absolutely! Smoothies are a great way to ingest a less-than-delicious tincture, or any liquid or powder supplements like probiotics, Vitamin D, DHEA, NAC, etc. And if they have medication they need to take but don’t love, sneak it into a smoothie (just make sure they drink it all to get the full dose)!
The Bottom Line
Smoothies for picky eaters can help introduce new flavors and add in some great protein, healthy fat, and nutrients. Whether you make your own or try our Serenity Kids’ smoothies (or both!), we hope your little one loves their smoothies as much as we do!