Healthy Holidays: How to Boost Health with Holiday Smoothies
Parents may not think “healthy holidays” are a thing—in the midst of this busy season, it can feel next to impossible to get a nutritious meal on the table. When you bring delicious, healthy smoothies into the picture, however, this challenge becomes easier to manage.
Not only are smoothies easy to make when you’re running low on time, but your child can get all the nutrients they need, while enjoying their favorite seasonal flavors. Use these festive smoothie hacks to ensure your child is getting the nutrition they need without having to find time to make extra healthy snacks and meals.
Sneak Seasonal Veggies Into the Blend
You may think of kale or spinach when healthy smoothie recipes come to mind, but fall and winter vegetables are the perfect substitute. To ensure your child is eating their recommended 1 to 3 cups of vegetables during the holiday season, roast the following vegetables:
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
Once roasted, keep them in the fridge and add few scoops to the base of your child’s smoothie.
Not only will these vegetables add to that creamy, indulgent texture of a smoothie, but they’re in season. Seasonal produce is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than its out of season counterparts, suggests Seasonal Food Guide. Experts with Seasonal Food Guide explain:
“Unlike out of season produce which is harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store, crops picked at their peak of ripeness are also better tasting and full of flavor. What’s more, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant.”
Reduce Added Sweeteners with Festive Flavors
Added sugars make up 13 percent of the average American’s diet each day (current RDA is 10 percent of daily calories), according to Health.gov. Add holiday pies, cookies and festive drinks into the mix and your child’s intake of added sugars is likely sky high this time of year.
Why is this problematic? American Heart Association explains that added sugars serve as empty calories, with zero nutrients, leading to weight gain and reduced heart health.
While children tend to prefer their smoothies on the sweeter side, it’s important to keep their intake of added sugars in check. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to add sweetness and flavor to your child’s smoothie.
Here are some festive smoothie ingredients to add sweetness and a delicious holiday twist:
- Cocoa powder
If you do want to add a little dash of sweetener, dietitians recommend going all natural, using maple syrup, agave nectar, raw honey or raw sugar.
Don’t forget about adding Healthy Height Shake Mix too, which adds plenty of flavor with only 3 grams of added sugar per serving. The mix comes in both vanilla and chocolate, making your festive and healthy smoothie recipes even tastier. Check it out in this Veggie Loaded Cinnamon Smoothie.
Combine Protein and Healthy Fat
If your holiday smoothies are the main form of nutrients for your child this time of year, make sure they’re reaping all the benefits. To do so, include healthy fats, which helps the body absorb the nutrients found in their smoothie.
Not to mention, while added sugars exacerbate the likelihood of heart disease, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce that risk factor, according to Nutrients Journal. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy fats that will make the smoothie festive and healthier, including:
- Ground flax
- Pecans, macadamia or walnuts
- Milk or plain yogurt
- Coconut cream
Keep in mind that these are calorie-dense ingredients, so it’s important to include them in moderation. To do so, keep the daily fat intake recommendations in mind.Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE from The Fortified Family and mom of 7 breaks this down.
Daily Fat Recommendations
The NIH recommendations for calories for “somewhat active” kids are as follows:
2 to 3 year olds need 1,000-1,400 calories daily
30 to 40 percent of 1200 calories from fat is: 40 to 53 grams fat per day
4 to 8 year olds need 1,400-1,600 calories daily
25 to 35 percent of 1500 calories from fat is 42 to 58 grams fat per day
9 to 13 year olds need 1,800-2,200 calories daily
25 to 35 percent of 2,000 calories is 56 to 78 grams fat per day
14 to 18 year olds need 2,400-2,800 calories daily25 to 35 percent of 2,600 calories is 72 to 101 grams fat per day
From Recommendations to SmoothiesSo how does this break down? Ferraro recommends working backwards into the food recommendations. Taking an avocado for example: the serving size is now 1/3 avocado which is 7 grams fat, so if you put 1/3 of an avocado in your child’s smoothie, that provides 7 grams fat. In terms of their daily requirement, this is:
- 15 percent of a 2 to 3 year old’s fat needs per day
- 14 percent of a 4 to 8 year old’s fat needs per day
- 10 percent of 9 to 13 year old’s fat needs per day
- 8 percent of 14 to 18 year old’s fat needs per day
To do this yourself, start by getting the most accurate nutrition and fat info per serving by searching USDA to confirm proper serving: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list. Finally, you can get fat recommendations for oils from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Our Fave Holiday Smoothies
Peanutbutter Blossom Shake
6 oz almond or coconut milk
1 scoop vanilla Healthy Height Protein Powder
1-2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
Optional: 1 tsp. ground flax seed for additional Omega 3 fatty acids
Optional: 1 Tbsp. maple syrup for a sweeter smoothie