Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Smoothies with a Side Lesson on the Color Wheel

Spring break dilemma to keep these mischievous monkeys occupied...

As mentioned in a prior post, I have been loving the Green Smoothie from local Erie Island Coffee.  So, as I have been trying to come up with fun 'home projects' during our spring break AND incorporate more fresh produce (particularly green veggies) into our diet, I decided to get the kids involved and make different green smoothie combos at home.  

Kids had a ball helping with washing, slicing, dumping fruit into the blender and they LOVED these smoothies to boot!  I was thrilled to discover a fun and healthy project for everyone!

(A) The first one we tried was the following:
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1-2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 small (kid-size) container organic vanilla yogurt
  • Splash of mango OJ
  • Handful Ice Cubes
Verdict: It was SO yummy, everyone loved - even my husband (who is rather selective about food) - requested that we make another one for him.  In addition to its obvious health benefits, the spinach provides a savory flavor that nicely balances the sweetness of the fruit.

(B) Next, since we ran out of the strawberries, we made a slightly different version by substituting apples for strawberries.

Verdict: This was good, but the apples created a grainy texture that was less appealing for the kids.

(C) Finally, we made a sweeter (dessert) version as follows:
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 small (kid-size) container organic vanilla yogurt
  • Handful Ice Cubes
Verdict: It was seriously delicious....almost TOO good since the kids only wanted to try this one again and again...

So, I decided to search for other interesting combos and selected the following 5 recipes to try.  Considering our busy schedule, I will only make these smoothies if the ingredients are simple and straightforward (not too time intensive to source or prepare).  Therefore, I may substitute or omit (i.e. "liquid Stevia??) ingredients as I see fit.

Also, many of these recipes are labeled 'raw' or 'vegan', and thus call for non-dairy milk.  Yet, since we are not a vegan household I may use dairy milk/yogurt.  Though, one person mentioned the dairy may cause blending issues with the acidic fruits, so if that is the case, we may try a non-dairy milk. We shall see....

The following link provided inspiration for my selections...

(1) Healthy Key Lime Pie Smoothie (Green Smoothie/Green Thickie)

       2 Cups Non Dairy Milk (oat, rice, soy, almond, hemp, coconut drink or raw nut or seed milk) If you want this smoothie cooler replace 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of ice.
       2 Bananas (fresh or frozen. If frozen you might need to add more water) If you can’t eat bananas, this would work with mango too or just more oats.
       1 Cup Spinach, tightly packed or 2 cups loosely packed. (Or any other mild greens)
       2 Tablespoons Sunflower seeds (or any other seeds).
       ¼ Cup of dates (or any other dried fruit)
       1 Cup oats
       Juice and zest of 2 -4 limes. It tastes amazing with 4 limes but it’s still nice with just 2 limes.
       ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

Blend the ingredients in the order listed. Add more water if required to thin it out. Substitute any of the ingredients for whatever you already have. Enjoy!
Smoothie serves 2. 

(2) Mojito Smoothie (2 versions)

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Silk Pure Coconut Milk 
  • 1/2 cup Ice


·      Handful of fresh mint (about ½ cup)
·      Juice of 1 lime
·      1 cup spinach
·      1 banana
·      ¼ cup water (or club soda)
·      Ice
·      Dash of honey – optional

Add all the ingredients to the blender in that order.
Add more ice if you want a thicker consistency or add more water if it is too thick and hard to blend.
This recipe makes about 2 cups...1 big serving or 2 smaller servings.

 (3) Blackberry and Basil Smoothie (

·      1 cup blackberries 

·      1 medium or large frozen banana 

·      1 scant cup almond milk 

·      1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

·      1 small handful basil leaves, washed

Blend all ingredients together till smooth and creamy. Serve with a sprig of basil!

Makes 1 large or 2 mini portions.

(4) Pina Colada Green Smoothie (

Note > Since this recipe yields 4 16-oz glasses, quantities should be reduced as applicable...

       4 cups fresh or frozen ripe sweet pineapple
       2 cups raw coconut water
       2 cups ice (if using fresh pineapple)
       1 cup chopped washed dandelion greens (apparently this is a key ingredient for taste and nutrition)
       ½ cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
       ¼ cup raw cashews
       ¼ cup dried chopped pitted dates or more to taste

Place all the ingredients in your blender and puree until smooth and creamy.

Makes four 16-ounce glasses.

(5) Healthy Green “Limeade” Smoothie Recipe (

       1/2 english cucumber, sliced
       1/2 avocado
       2 handfuls baby spinach
       3-4  limes, peeled  (adjust to desired amount)
       1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
       liquid stevia to taste [or honey, agave, or sweetener of choice]
       6-8 ice cubes

In blender, add cucumber, avocado, spinach, lime [all three, but peeled], cinnamon, stevia, ice and  blend on high until smooth.
If it’s too think,  I’ll add about 1/2 cup of cold water.
Once it’s all blended, pour into a large glass and enjoy!

As a side note, the smoothie project led to an inadvertent lesson on the color wheel.  Since we were attempting to create something similar to the Green Smoothie at Erie Islands Coffee, the kids naturally expected a green smoothie.  Therefore, they were mystified that the first one we made produced a brownish color.  Of course, I had to remind them of the primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, purple, orange) and explain that complementary colors (across from each other on the color wheel such as red/green, yellow/purple, blue/orange) produce brown when mixed.  So, the red from the strawberries mixed with green from the spinach made the brownish color...Luckily, the brownish color did not seem to scare them off and they were WAY more delicious than they appeared.

My son (who loves to document anything and everything, can't imagine where he gets it) even had fun making a color wheel diagram, complete with a legend indicating 'p' primary and 's' secondary....(tertiary lesson for a later date, yes, I know...nerd alert!!)

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