Taking Green to a Whole New Level

Taking Green to a Whole New Level

Harry loves the color green. Actually, “love” might be too gentle a word; “obsessed” is probably a better choice. From the very first time he was asked his favorite color, the answer’s been the same. For a while there, it was all he wanted to talk about—at his old preschool, the other kids’ parents would come up to me, smiling, to tell me he’d just shared his enthusiasm. He wanted green clothing, green shoes, green construction paper, green balloons, green clay… You get the idea. (We won’t go into the tantrums he threw when somebody else got the last green item.) And the love extended into the kitchen, too. When given a choice, he’d always select a green bowl, fork, cup, or straw.

Where the love didn’t extend: food. When he first started to become more selective in his eating, I thought this obsession would work to my advantage. Try the edamame, buddy—they’re green! Yeah, not so much. Pesto, his first favorite food, was abandoned without a backward glance. Attempting to woo him towards broccoli by letting him choose a recipe was amusing, but it didn’t exactly work. The only place I’ve ever been able to wrangle the green thing to my advantage is with smoothies. Avocado smoothies have been popular around here for some time (I even published a recipe on Parents.com), but I don’t always have an avocado on hand. Thanks to the kind folks at Whole Foods, though, I do have an assortment of chopped, ready-to-use greens in the freezer, a new addition to their 365 Everyday line that they sent me to play with.

The best part of using frozen greens for a smoothie is, well, they’re frozen. It helps achieve that thick, frosty, eat-it-with-a-spoon texture. If you toss them in at the very beginning, with just the yogurt and milk, they’ll break down so much that the flavor disappears into the mixture—you have absolutely no sense that you’re drinking greens, which can often be bitter. So even though Harry knows they’re the star ingredient (I’m not big on hiding foods; I want him to understand and enjoy what he’s eating), he sucks that green drink down happily.

(and speaking of green…)
A NOTE ON ORGANICS: I don’t generally specify what you should be buying organic; I know our own budget doesn’t afford us nearly as much as I’d like, so I’d rather not pressure you. However, three of the main ingredients here are items I always do buy organic: yogurt, milk, and greens. Yogurt and milk are because dairy is among Harry’s primary foods, and it’s important to me than anything he eats in quantity is clean. The greens are because they’re consistently on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen: produce items with the heaviest pesticide load. I agreed to try out Whole Foods’ frozen greens because I was told they’re organic; turns out they’re not. When I noticed the lack of an organic seal on the package I wrote to my contact there, who acknowledged that a mistake had been made in their description. So I have a stash of non-organic greens in my freezer right now. Buuut, Whole Foods does have a pretty admirable set of quality standards. They’re nearly enough to make me forego the organic designation in this case. Jury’s still out, though. I need to investigate a little further.

I’m curious: What would you do? Would you use up what you’ve been given, or throw it away? Serve it to yourself, but not the kids? If you would use it, would you buy more?

Green(s) Smoothie
Serves 2
Weight Watchers: Each serving is 5 PointsPlus

Note: I use flavored yogurt for this—the extra sweetness helps to mask the taste of the greens. If you use plain, you’ll probably want to add a bit of honey (or sugar, if you’re serving to a baby under one year old). Also, feel free to experiment with your selection of fruits, but know that things like strawberries and blueberries will yield a smoothie that’s more purplish-brown than green.

4 ounces fat-free, fruit-flavored yogurt (I like strawberry)
3/4 cup frozen chopped greens
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 ripe banana, in chunks
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

  1. Put the yogurt, the greens, and the milk into the jar of a blender and whir on high until the greens are completely broken down.
  2. With the blender running, add the banana and then the mango, and whir until fully blended. Serve.

For non-green variations, check out my Master Smoothie Recipe.

MAKE BABY FOOD: I don’t have to tell you how perfect this is, do I? Keep it slightly thicker and you can serve with a spoon, or thin it more and use a sippy.