Veggie Smoothie for Toddlers by Melissa Cates

Back in the good ole days, I could spoon anything into my little one’s mouth, and he would predictably mush it around and swallow. Aaaahhh... the sweet satisfaction of knowing little round belly was full of nutritious fruits, veggies, proteins, and the occasional tasty herb or spice.  (You know, for palate expansion....) Jump ahead to present day, Austin is two, and his lips might as well have a deadbolt on them. A deadbolt to which only he holds the key, and who knows what motivates him to unlock it. One day pasta is permissible, the next nothing but fruit shall pass.

Oh, two year olds. I won’t say they are “terrible,” because they are really too much fun for that label. I will say they will teach you a whole heap of things. About yourself, about them, about love, about forgiveness, about patience, about how to get crayon marks off of hardwood floors...

Really, I wish I had taken out stock in Purell and Brawny. And, maybe invested in part of a vineyard?

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Anyway, ever since those little lips starting locking out my attempts at rounded nutrition, I started sneaking past the gatekeeper by throwing everything and anything into the blender and serving it up with a straw and a smile. (A little theatrical enthusiasm goes a long way with toddlers.) You may have to gradually add in the stronger tasting greens and veggies, but a good starting place is sweet baby carrots. Get that past your little culinary tyrant, and you can move on cauliflower, spinach (raw is milder than the cooked, frozen stuff), kale, even green peas! I really just use what I have in the fridge, but this one is what Austin drinks most days.

As A says when he gets up from his nap:  “It’s ‘moovie time!”

Austin’s Sneaky Veggie Smoothie

Serves 2 (momma could use a nutrional boost, too!)

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably frozen)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored
  • 1 handful baby carrots
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 handful kale
  • 2 brussels sprouts (if you dare…)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, optional (Austin needs the extra fat and calories)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey, agave, sugar, or molasses
  • ½ cup greek yogurt, I use weetedplain for lower sugar content
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Blend your heart out!

Tip: When loading your blender with all this goodness, put the heaviest foods on the bottom nearest the blade.



 

Cook Once, Eat Twice: How to Optimize your Time in the Kitchen

I've been sick and generally low energy for over a week. Like a good holistic yogi, I tried all the go-to home remedies first. Young Living Essential Oils, elderberry syrup, hot teas, rest, even suffered through a daily nasal rinse with a nettypot. (Ladies: using a nettypot can be super effective, but as you may imagine, nasal draining is NOT.PRETTY. If you want to keep romance alive in your house, close the bathroom door during this practice.) 

Impressive, over the top breakfast: Scrambled eggs, sautéed collards, onions, mushrooms in coconut oil with a side of fresh avocado and tomato slices. 

It took me nine days to finally cave and go to the doctor. Turns out, my simple cold had spread into a nasty upper respiratory infection - glad we caught it! Fortunately, I don't get sick too often and rarely have to take medicine so, when I do, it works. Fast. I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed feeling like the energizer bunny. Happy to be feeling well, I was a regular Chatty Cathy. Unfortunately, Mr. Maynor didn't share my 6am enthusiasm to talk about the joy of life and lovingly suggested that I shift my glorious energy elsewhere. So, I went to the kitchen to fix an unusually big breakfast: scrambled eggs, sautéed onion, collards and babybella mushrooms, garnished with 1/2 an avocado and fresh tomato. Totally over the top for a Wednesday morning, I know, but I'd rather think of it as opportunistic. When life offers you an energy boost, ya gotta do something with it!

I've found over the years that eating well on a consistent basis is not just about planning ahead, it's about using your time and energy wisely. To do that, I use a simple rule to optimize my time in the kitchen: Cook Once, Eat Twice. It's really as simple as it sounds, if you're already spending a bit of time in the kitchen, cook enough for another meal. Perfect example, our breakfast this morning was also prep for dinner tomorrow. I cooked double the amount of veggies we needed  and plan to toss them on pasta tomorrow night for a quick dinner. I didn't spend any extra time cooking today, and tomorrow's dinner will be all about boiling water and melting butter. BOOM. It's that simple. 

Here are a few ideas to help you implement this time-saving tip at home:
1. Dried Beans - cheap and low maintenance = no brainer! Throw a bag of beans into the crockpot along with your favorite seasonings and let them cook overnight. Voila! You wake up to a healthy, protein packed food that will make your cooking load so much lighter through the week. I really like pintos, cannelloni or great northern beans, myself. 
2. Rice - I keep a huge bag of brown rice from Costco on hand all the time. Making a big serving at the beginning of the week saves time and gives you options. (Really, any grain would work well here!)
3. Boiled Chicken - Boiling 2 chicken breast on Sunday evening, while I'm cooking saves me tons of time and increases meal flexibility. Once cooked, chop or shred the chicken and use it to top salads, add to pasta or wraps. You can check out this Behind the Scenes with Nourish post to learn more about prepping chicken ahead of time! 
*Keep healthy wraps or pita pockets on hand for a quick lunch. Throw the beans, rice and chicken in with a light sauce or dressing and you've got yourself a delicious, low effort, home-made lunch!