Many parents find it challenging to get their kids to eat healthy. The secret is to make healthy food fun!

Here are some of my favorite, kid-friendly snacks that are sure to get more fruits and vegetables into your little ones.

Fruit Kabobs

Watermelon-kids

Fruit kabobs are sweet and colorful – two things kids love! Simply find some small cookie cutters in whatever shape you want, slice your fruit to the thickness of the cookie cutter, press the cookie cutter into the fruit and then load them onto a skewer.

I found my small cookie cutters at a craft store. They were in the cake section with the fondant decoration stuff. I’m sure you can also find them online.

Lady Bugs

bugs-kids

This is a great craft for older kids. To make these lady bugs, simply cut the green top off the strawberries and cut little holes in the strawberries for the chocolate chips. Press the chocolate chips into the small holes with the flat part up. Use your fingers to push the chocolate chip into the strawberry. Break a toothpick in half and use it to hold the grape head on.

Real Fruit Pops

pops

Juice a watermelon and pour it into popsicle molds and freeze for about 2 hours. Take them out of the freezer are stir the juice so it’s more of a slushy texture, add mini chocolate chips and put it back into the freezer while you make the ice cream.

To make the ice cream, blend one frozen banana with about 5 or 6 large baby spinach leaves and about 10 mint leaves in a high-powered blender or food processor. (The spinach acts as “food coloring”, while the mint is for flavor.) Once you have a creamy ice cream consistency, add it to the top of the popsicle molds, insert the stick and freeze for another 3 to 4 hours depending on how large your molds are.

Fire Ants On A Log

ants

This is a different twist on the classic “ants on a log” snack you might remember from when you were a kid. I used goji berries for the fire ants. They are loaded with antioxidants and they are also a great source of protein. And even though I’m calling them “fire ants” in this recipe, goji berries are not spicy at all.

You can use raisins and make regular ants on a log, but no one in my household eats raisins so I don’t keep them on hand. For some color variety, you could use a mixture of raisins, goji berries and chopped dried mangoes or apricots. I topped some of them with shredded coconut. The possibility’s are endless!

One Final Tip For Getting Kids To Eat Healthy

Kids are more likely to eat what they help make. So if your children are still fussy about fresh fruit and vegetable alternatives to high sugar junk foods, then include them in the process of making these fun snacks.

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About Tracy
Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Health & Weight Loss Program and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.


Green Smoothie Health & Weight Loss Program


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Super-Food-smoothieI don’t usually add so many “superfoods” to my typical green smoothie, but I was playing around with ingredients in the kitchen and just added a little of this and a little of that. I wasn’t expecting much, but to my surprise, the smoothie was actually very tasty!

If you have never had mesquite powder, it has a molasses-like flavor with a hint of caramel and it is very tasty. I like to pair it with cacao powder. Cacao is dark chocolate in the raw form.

I used baby bok choy in this green smoothie recipe because it’s less bitter than full size bok choy. It also is a rich source of calcium and iron!

Superfood Blast Green Smoothie Recipe

Start by adding the liquid to your blender (I use a Vitamix), followed by the soft fruit. Add the greens to your blender last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 303
Fat: 3g
Protein: 9g
Carbohydrates: 64g
Fiber: 13.7g
Calcium: 24% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
Iron: 3.5mg
Folate: 179.9mcg
Vitamin A: 403% RDA
Vitamin C: 150% RDA

This smoothie is also a rich source of vitamins B1 – B6, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Serving Size: One.

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Almond-and-coconut-crusted-eggplantI have made this delicious, vegan coconut-almond crusted eggplant dish for dinner a couple of times and it has become of on my favorite recipes!

I recommend making this recipe with both coconut and almond flour. For a courser coating, grind your own almonds and shredded coconut meat in a food processor. Be sure that you don’t over-blend and turn it into coconut-almond butter!

You can also use just almond flour or just coconut flour, but I prefer the mix of the two flavors. Almond flour will have slightly more calories and protein than coconut flour.

The spicy mango dipping sauce is amazing! It complements the eggplant nicely and adds a lot of flavor to this dish. I think this is the perfect recipe and I wouldn’t change a thing in it.

Vegan Almond-Coconut Crusted Eggplant

Serving Size: 2

Eggplant Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup ground almond flour
  • 1/4 cup ground coconut flour
  • dash of sea salt

Eggplant Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices.

In a small bowl, mix the coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and lime juice and stir. In another bowl, mix together the almond four, coconut flour and sea salt.

Next, dip each piece of eggplant into the oil and vinegar mixture and then coat it with the coconut and almond flour mixture. Place each piece onto a baking sheet. Top with any extra oil to make the coating a little crispier.

Bake the eggplant slices for about 15 minutes on each side (30 minutes total baking time). Be sure to watch it closely as it might not take the full 15 minutes to brown on each side depending on your oven.

Spicy Mango Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup very ripe mango, peeled and pitted
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1 and 1/4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • dash to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder for desired spiciness

Spicy Mango Sauce Directions:

Mix all the ingredients into a food processor until creamy.

Nutrition info per serving:

Calories: 371 | Protein: 9 grams | Fiber: 16 grams | Calcium: 5% DV | Iron: 1.7 mg

Serving Suggestions

You can either drizzle the spicy mango sauce over the eggplant or dip each slice into the sauce before you eat it. Either way, it’s a delicious meal!

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Epic Protein PowderThis delicious green smoothie blends two of my favorite things – cherries and vanilla! This is a great post-workout smoothie (or meal) providing almost 400 calories and 17 grams of protein in just 26 ounces of deliciousness.

I added some pumpkin seed protein powder from Sprout Living for a boost of protein. Sprout Living is a raw, all natural brand of protein powder. It isn’t chalky or full of processed stuff like a lot of other protein powders are. You can use whatever protein powder you have on hand, or give Sprout Living protein powder a try.

The chard helps to add some extra iron, calcium and vitamins. The chard in this recipe contributes almost 4 grams of protein on its own! This green smoothie is also loaded with potassium that your body needs after a good workout.

Banana-Cherry and Chard Green Smoothie

  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted
  • The vanilla from one vanilla bean, or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 chard leaves, stems removed
  • 1 scoop pumpkin seed protein powder from Sprout Living
  • 8 ounces filtered water

Start by adding the liquid to your blender (I use a Vitamix), followed by the soft fruit. Add the greens to your blender last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 398
Fat: 2g
Protein: 17g
Carbohydrates: 89.2g
Fiber: 13.4g
Calcium: 11% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
Iron: 4.6mg
Folate: 80.2mcg
Vitamin A: 86% RDA
Vitamin C: 119% RDA

This smoothie is also a rich source of vitamins B1 through B6, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Serving Size: One.

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Tea- Green Smoothie RecipeI love adding tea as a liquid to my green smoothies. It’s a great way to add lots of flavor without additional calories.

You can find raspberry-hibiscus tea at most supermarkets. Simply brew two tea bags according to the instructions on the box and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours. I usually prep the tea the night before so that it is ready for the next morning when I make my green smoothie.

Blueberries and cinnamon complement the raspberry and hibiscus flavors, adding a delicious depth and complexity to the blend.

I added baby spinach to boost the mineral content in this smoothie without taking away from the overall flavor. You can always replace the spinach with a stronger green like kale if you want to boost the protein, calcium and iron a little more.

Frozen blueberries help to chill this smoothie as well as giving it a extra boost of manganese, dietary fiber and vitamins B6, C and K.

Raspberry Hibiscus Tea Green Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 8 ounces chilled raspberry-hibiscus tea

Start by adding the tea to your blender (I use a Vitamix), followed by the soft fruit. Add the greens to your blender last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 209
Fat: 1g
Protein: 4g
Carbohydrates: 51g
Fiber: 11.9g
Calcium: 11% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
Iron: 3.7mg
Folate: 198.3mcg
Vitamin A: 61% RDA
Vitamin C: 51% RDA

This smoothie is also a rich source of vitamins B1 through B6, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Serving Size: One.

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When I wanted the flavor of vanilla in my green smoothies, I used to use a little vanilla extract. It wasn’t until I finally got around to buying some actual vanilla beans that I realized just how much I love real vanilla.

It’s pretty easy to use, but if you’re a vanilla newbie, you might wonder how to quickly and easily get the vanilla out of the bean . That’s what I’m going to show you below.

While vanilla beans can be expensive (I’ve seen them for as much as $2.99 PER BEAN at health food stores!), you can also get them at places like Costco or even Amazon.com for much less.

I’ve used real vanilla bean in recipes like my chocolate chia seed pudding, pumpkin pudding with Macadamia nut cream, strawberry-vanilla chia seed pudding, cherry pudding parfait and these other amazing vanilla smoothie recipes!

Here is how I remove the edible vanilla from the bean or pod the quick and easy (and mess-free) way:

Step 1: Flatten the vanilla bean.

step1

Flattening the vanilla beans makes it easier to cut into it. I just run my thumb and index finger along the top and bottom of the vanilla bean to flatten it out (you do not need to press it flat, just “smooth” it flat). The last batch of vanilla beans I bought were already flattened, so you might not need to do this step.

Step 2: Cut the ends off of the bean.

step2

This will help you open it easier after you have cut into it.

Step 3: Cut along the length of the bean.

step3

Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise. Do not cut it in half. Instead, cut just deep enough to open the bean from one end to the other.

Step 4: Use a spoon to scrape out the vanilla.

step4

Spread apart one end of the bean. Using a spoon, place it in the end that you have just spread apart. Then scrape the spoon all along the length of the bean. The spoon will force the rest of the bean open as you drag it down the incision you made in step 3.

Step 5: Add your vanilla to your recipe.

step5

The vanilla is very messy so I would not recommend touching it with your hands. If you do, make sure to wash them before you touch anything else. I like to use a piece of fruit or another piece of smoothie ingredient to remove the vanilla from the spoon so I don’t get it on my hands.

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Beet-Strawberry-SmoothieWhen you think about a delicious green smoothie, beets, avocado and celery are not the typical ingredients you plan to use.

However, they can blend wonderfully with sweet strawberries and coconut water for a nutrient-rich treat.

I’ll admit, beets might not be for everyone, but give them a try before you decide. Beets are a great source of antioxidants and folate. I added a raw beet, but if you are using an inexpensive blender, you might want to lightly stem it first.

The avocado helps to give this smoothie a creamy texture and boosts the healthy fat content without making the smoothie too sweet. Avocados are also an excellent source of antioxidants and folate.

Most of the protein in this smoothie comes from the oats. While they are considered a carbohydrate, they are also a great source of fiber and protein. I only added 1/4 cup as they are very high in calories (which makes them great for using in a green smoothie meal).

You can always make this a green smoothie by adding beet greens, kale or spinach.

Strawberry Beet Detox Green Smoothie Recipe

  • 1/2 cup beets, chopped
  • 1/4 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 10 medium strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup dry old fashioned oats
  • 8 ounces (236ml) of coconut water

Start by adding the liquid to your blender (I use a Vitamix), followed by the soft fruit. Add the greens to your blender last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 301
Fat: 9g
Protein: 8g
Carbohydrates: 51g
Fiber: 10.9g
Calcium: 9% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
Iron: 2.8mg
Folate: 167.4 mcg
Vitamin A: 2% RDA
Vitamin C: 234% RDA

This smoothie is also a rich source of vitamins B1 through B6, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Serving Size: One. (This recipe makes a large, 32-ounce smoothie. It is a meal-replacement smoothie and not a snack. I recommend drinking half right away and the other half about 30 minutes later. If it is too much for you, store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.)

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Stage-1-baby-FoodMaking your own baby food in a blender is easy. Not only does it save you money, it’s a great way to give your baby the freshest, most nutritious food possible.

In this post, I will primarily talk about “stage 1″ baby foods. These are the types of simple recipes that you make when you are first introducing your baby to solid foods (purees).

The photo to your right is my little Munchkin at almost 7 months old enjoying one of his favorite foods, banana and spinach! He is starting to eat stage 2 foods so I’ll post a followup article with stage 2 recipes after I play around with some ingredients.

What Is Stage 1 Baby Food?

Stage 1 baby foods are made with simple, easy to digest fruits and vegetables that have been blended to a creamy texture so your baby can eat them easily.

Many babies start eating pureed foods around 4 to 6 months of age. Your child will let you know when they are ready to start eating baby puree. One clue that they are ready is when they take an interest in the food you eat.

Always talk to your pediatrician before starting your child on baby purees. Since your baby still needs the nutrients only available in breast milk or formula, treat purees as a supplemental food and not a replacement for milk/formula.

It’s best to introduce your baby to only one fruit or vegetable at a time. Give them the same food for at least four days to see if they will have an allergic reaction to it or not. Their digestive system is still developing, so it’s best not to overdo it with complex recipes.

Once you introduce a second fruit or vegetable, you can still give them the first food. For example, if you start with pureed banana and all goes well, feel free to add spinach to the banana. Or you can swap the banana for pureed carrots.

Should I Give My Baby Raw Fruit and Vegetable Purees?

I have to admit, this was a question I had as well. My gut told me that certain fruits were fine served raw, such as bananas. Bananas are one of the easiest fruits to digest, and they mash up so smooth.

Some fruits and vegetables are better steamed first, especially hard, fibrous foods like carrots, or foods you don’t typically eat raw like sweet potato.

In either case, my preference is to use only the freshest, organic produce.

I did ask my pediatrician about serving raw fruit and vegetables purees, and he said that it was absolutely fine.

Stage 1 Baby Foods – Use These Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Feel free to puree these fruits and vegetables and serve raw: banana, avocado, mango, papaya, peaches, plums, apricots and spinach.

Stage-1-baby-Food2

How To Make Raw Baby Foods

Since your baby is only used to drinking breast milk or formula, you’ll want to start your little one off with very soft purees. Make sure to taste your purees before giving them to your little one.

They will resist bitter or non-sweet purees. I follow the same principle as I do with my green smoothies – use enough fruits to mask less enjoyable vegetables. Banana with spinach is a favorite of my little Munchkin.

Step 1: Peel your fruit (fruit peels can be hard for a baby to digest).

Step 2: Add desired fruit to a blender or food processor.

Step 3: Blend on a medium speed until smooth and free of any chucks.

Step 4: Divide the purees into 2.5 ounce containers (I reuse the small stage 1 baby food jars). Each jar will contain two servings when you first start feeding purees. After a few days (or when your child is ready), he or she might be ready to eat the entire jar.

Each jar will last about three days in the refrigerator. I put “Baby A’s” food jars in a bowl of hot water to warm them to room temperature before I feed him food from the refrigerator.

Tip: just before serving, add a little formula or breast milk to make the puree slightly runny. If you take a spoonful, it should slowly slide off the spoon. This step is to start your baby off with very thin purees. After a few weeks you can skip the liquid.

Stage 1 Baby Foods – Steam These Fruits and Vegetables Before Blending

Because these fruits are fibrous and more difficult to digest for a baby with a developing digestive system, it’s best to steam these foods before pureeing: apples, pears, carrots, green beans, summer squash, peas, sweet potato, pumpkin and winter squash.

How To Make steamed Baby Foods

Step 1: Peel your fruit or vegetable.

Step 2: Slice the fruit of vegetable and put it in a steaming basket over a pan of boiling water and steam until you can easily stab with a fork.

Step: 3 Remove food from steaming basket and let cool for about ten minutes before blending it.

Step 4: Add ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend on a medium speed until smooth and free of any chucks.

Step 5: Divide the purees into 2.5 ounce containers (I reuse the standard glass baby food jars). Let the baby food cool completely before you cover it and place it in the refrigerator. Warm the food up by letting it sit in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before serving.

Each jar will contain two servings when you first start feeding purees. After a few days (or when your child is ready), he or she might be ready to eat the entire jar.

Tip: just before serving, add a little formula or breast milk to make the puree slightly runny. If you take a spoonful, it should slowly slide off the spoon. This step is to start your baby off with very thin purees. After a few weeks you can skip the liquid.

Homemade Baby Food Recipes

Stage-1-baby-Food4Each ingredient can be eaten on its own, but I like to mix and match some of them. For example, I don’t think I could get my son to eat pureed spinach on its own (who would want that?), but he LOVES spinach blended with banana.

Here are some “baby-approved” recipes that I have tried (each recipe may fill 3-5 baby food jars):

  • 2 medium bananas and 1/2 handful of raw spinach (I’m going to start adding more spinach and less banana, but this is what I started with.)
  • 2 medium apples (steamed) and 2 medium pears (steamed)
  • 2 medium bananas (raw) and 2 large carrots (steamed)
  • 2 cups papaya (raw) and 1 large carrot (steamed)
  • 1/2 cup green beans (steamed), 1/2 cup summer squash (steamed), 1/2 cup peas (steamed), 1/2 cup carrots (steamed)
  • 1 cup sweet potato (steamed) and 1 large carrot (steamed)

Once your baby is used to eating purees without the additional liquid, it might be time to talk to your pediatrician about starting stage 2 purees. Don’t rush your little one, though. If they are happy with breast milk/formula and a little stage one puree, then let them enjoy that for a little while.

I will create a followup post soon with stage 2 and 3 baby food recipes for six months and up.

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Chocolate-chia-seed-puddingI’m slightly obsesed with chia seed pudding these days. My first chia seed pudding was thise a strawberry-vanilla recipe that I made a little while ago. I loved it and kept on experimenting with different flavors.

Chia seed pudding has the consistency of tapioca pudding without all the extra sugar. Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3s and provide 148% RDA of per serving in this recipe.

This recipe makes a single 147-calorie serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 banana, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • The vanilla from 1 vanilla bean, (or 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder

Directions:

In a blender, blend the banana, almond milk, cacao powder and vanilla together and blend until smooth. Then pour the mixture into a bowl.

Next, add the chia seeds and stir. Let sit for about 2 minutes, and then stir again.

Cover the pudding and let it sit for another 45 to 50 minutes (leave it covered on the counter). Once the pudding is thick, stir once more and serve.

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This month’s Green Smoothie Inspiration is Julia, who lost 40 pounds and is managing her multiple sclerosis in part with green smoothies and a whole foods diet. You can read her inspiring story below.

If you have an inspiring story about how green smoothies changed your life, send it to me. If I publish your story, I’ll send you a free Incredible Smoothies grocery tote bag!

Green Smoothie Inspiration: Julia – Boyce, Louisiana, USA

IMGP1159“I started drinking green smoothies in January 2013.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in July 2011 and literally became desperate as my life fell apart. I took an MS modifying drug for 10 months and had terrible side effects. I could not get the neurologist to change it.

After going to an MS retreat with other patients, I realized that some people’s lives were not as bad as mine, although some had more severe challenges. So I stopped taking the medication and found another neurologist. I knew I had to do something to change my life.

I discovered Dr. Terry Wahls and read about her MS diet. I found it very hard to eat as many vegetables as was recommended, but heard about green smoothies from her, and then came across your website, which has helped a lot.

Now I drink a green smoothie for breakfast, sometimes lunch, but more often a small one at supper with something else paleo-style. Now I have more energy. I am getting the nutrition I need and I feel better. I’ve lost 40 pounds [in 2013]. I don’t watch the scale and didn’t worry when it went up during the holidays. The weight came off in short time again. I know over time, my body will continue to adjust itself.

I have a long way to go, but green smoothies have helped make my life so much more enjoyable! I feel like I’m in more control of my body. I’ve met nice people at the Farmer’s Market and grocery store that like to talk about what’s in my shopping basket! They’re usually very willing to talk positively about fresh foods!

I follow Dr. Terry Wahls diet for MS, which is very similar to the Paleo diet. I also drink one green smoothie in the morning (about 16 ounces), and another one with lunch or supper (8-16 ounces). My typical recipe includes:

– 1 cup grapes
– 1/2 – 1 pear
– banana
– chia seeds or flax meal
– leafy greens (usually kale, but also beet greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach)
– berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries)

I try to eat organic or locally grown foods. In the past, I used to be macrobiotic, then vegan. It was really hard mentally to eat meat again without thinking it would be harmful to me. There are still some Wahls or Paleo foods I don’t eat like organ meats. I feel better when eating gluten free, sugar free, and dairy free.

I have the hardest time with sugar. I’ve been very stringent about diet for the past year and I am lightening up a little during social times – learning to prepare food ahead of time and take food that others will enjoy.

In December 2012, I was really desperate and heard an internet speaker talk about how people will change and actually stick with the changes when they are at rock bottom. That’s where I was. I dedicated 2013 to start my recovery.

I could barely walk into the gym from my car in January 2013, much less perform any exercises! And my neurologist was telling me to exercise 1 hour a day! I’m the major wage earner in family, so things got really bad before they got better.

If I hadn’t started green smoothies, I wouldn’t have been able to make any health improvements. I still have a ways to go, but know I’m on the right path for my body. I work part-time, usually walk with a cane outside, still limited in mobility distance, take supplements, go to gym 3-4 times a week or do water therapy in good weather.

Green smoothies have greatly impacted my life. When traveling out of town, I always take some with me if I know I won’t be able to make any.”

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