Real Food Fast: DIY Smoothie BagsJulieVR
Smoothies are a popular breakfast and snack around our house – particularly in the late afternoon, when the boys are hungry, wanting to eat something and me not wanting to fill them up before dinner. A smoothie is always well-received, and is a great way to boost their intake of fresh fruit and even veggies – a handful of fresh parsley or spinach goes undetected, especially in purply smoothies with plenty of blueberries. With yogurt, it’s a great dose of vitamins, minerals and calcium – real and delicious and sippable, better than any supplement. It’s become such a regular day to day item that I’ve streamlined things a bit, freezing chunks of fruit to prevent wasting it, and at the same time coming up with a simple, DIY frozen smoothie kit kids need only to open, dump and blitz. To be honest, I’ve found myself using them too, on harried weekday mornings when I just want to grab and go.
The blender practically lives on our countertop – some days it seems I’ve just made a smoothie and it’s time for another. But I recently realized my 6 year old and his 9 year old cousin could be making their own.
To make it simple – and reduce the potential for horrendous frozen berry messes on the countertop – I started divvying up fruit and yogurt in Hefty Slider Bags and stashing them in the freezer so that all they’d need to do is grab one, dump it into the blender and press a button.
I generally keep a sturdy freezer bag in the freezer anyway – it acts as a place to toss berries that are starting to go wrinkly, bananas past their prime, and other stray fruit – like the end of a can of pineapple or mandarin oranges, or leftover mango. The slide-open tops on Hefty Slider Bags made it easy to open, toss in a few chunks of fruit, and seal it again, without taking up too much precious freezer space. I try my best not to waste food, and would far rather rescue fruit I don’t have time to use by freezing it, rather than letting it go slimy and having it wind up in the compost bin. A smoothie can be made using any combination of juicy fruit – who cares if there are three grapes and the stump of a pineapple? Sounds like the makings of a delicious summer sipper to me.
You can customize these smoothie bags according to number of servings – if you’re typically making smoothies for three or four, use larger bags; for one or two, choose smaller bags. For each serving, add about a cup of fresh fruit – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries; juicy mango, peaches, plums and pineapple; and broken chunks of banana. Scoop in a cup or two of yogurt – I like to use plain, and add a drizzle of honey (that way I control the amount of sugar that goes in), or use your favourite pre-sweetened yogurt. You could even add a small handful of fresh parsley or spinach – or at least a few leaves – if you’re sure they won’t be picked out by little hands when you’re not looking. You could even add a small drizzle of flax oil, which I often add to smoothies to boost omega 3 fatty acids.
Label the bags and stash in the freezer, with instructions to add a big splash of milk or juice to the mixture as it blends, just to help get things going. (If your smoothie mixture is really frozen, sit the bag in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to soften it up.) Hefty Slider Bags are sturdy enough to reuse over and over, so you’ll quickly find yourself in the habit of making healthy, inexpensive breakfasts and snacks – perfect for before a soccer or hockey game, or when kids need a little something to keep them well-fueled between meals – with no garbage and minimal clean-up!