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A Smooth Way for Teens and Tweens to Have a Balanced Diet

By Kiran Ansari

When kids are little, it is usually so much easier to ensure they get their fruits and veggies since they are strapped in a high chair and mesmerized by something as simple as a wooden spoon. 

As they get older, just like they want to decide what clothes are cool enough for school, they often try to have more of a say in what they eat. Some parents might be lucky if their teenager requests broccoli for dinner. Others may not be as fortunate with fast food, pop and candy starting to take up a larger chunk of their kids’ food pyramid. As they start spending more time away from home with friends and at activities, one family dinner might be the most you can squeeze out of a hectic day. 

So when my 11-year old daughter wanted to buy a Magic Bullet blender to make her own smoothies, I couldn’t think of any way this could go wrong. She was using her own money, so that gave her more ownership and interest in actually using it, and she accompanied me grocery shopping to buy the fruits and vegetables.

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So far she has been doing an awesome job in whipping up some cool smoothies that cost a fraction of what they would at the mall. Plus, she is learning a few more things along the way – and so am I.

The number one thing a friend with older kids suggested was that I shouldn’t be OCD about clean up. While she should not leave a mess on the kitchen island, I should also not be hovering around and nagging her to clean up every tiny fragment. Or she might just give up and open a can of soda instead. 

I was a little hesitant with an 11-year old chopping fruits, but thanks to Master Chef Junior where 9 and 10 year olds create gourmet meals, I eased up a little. However, there is no magic number as to when it is safe for kids to use a kitchen knife. Each parent has to make their own decision. 

When we buy the produce, we tried to aim for a rainbow of colors so that there is variety in texture and taste. While berries are her absolute favorite, she tries and experiments with other fruits and always adds a veggie or two for good measure. 

“I love smoothies because you can easily “hide” vegetables in them,” Hana said. “I toss some peaches, apples oranges, strawberries in my Magic Bullet and then add kale or spinach. With all those sweet fruits you don’t even taste the veggies.” 

She also never adds any sugar to her smoothies which is a relief because kids these days have more than their share of sugar in their diets. Usually she doesn’t need to add anything, but if the fruit is particularly tart, she adds a little honey. To help make it smooth, she prefers blending with ice and a little milk but sometimes adds a splash of orange juice or yogurt too.

“Smoothies are great for breakfast because you can put all the prodyce in the cup the night before and all you have to do is push a button in the morning,” Hana added. “This way you can even drink it while getting ready so you won’t be late for school.”

You can also try making smoothie packs in advance and try Yvonne’s recipe for a strawberry pineapple smoothie that is great for breakfast or even suhoor if you keep voluntary fasts throughout the year. 

Being able to drink straight from the blending cup saves on dishwasher space, a
nd when you add some funky big smoothie straws, you are all set for a hip breakfast or snack that the teens can make themselves – and is nutritious. Kaching. Sounds like a jackpot to me.  

Kiran Ansari is a writer and entrepreneur who runs her personalized favors and gifts business, Up A Notch, and lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three children, 14, 11 and 2. 

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