The Basics Of Home Juicing
Juicing is a very forgiving process. You can add fruits and vegetables until you get a result you like. Feel free to make substitutions if you don't have a particular item on hand. You might discover a new favorite.
What Can You Juice?
With a standard (centrifugal) juicer, you can juice almost any fruit or vegetable. You'll extract more juice from oranges, lemons, and the like by using a citrus press or citrus juicer. But You'll get a bit of extra goodness from the nutrients found in the peels and membranes of citrus fruits if you send them through a standard centrifugal juicer.
Most fruits and vegetables can be successfully juiced. Save bananas and avocados for smoothies, or process them separately in a blender and whisk them into the juice if you wish. Almost everything else is fair game, depending on how you prepare it and what type of juicer you have. See [>] for a list of fruits and vegetables organized by season, so that you can maximize flavor and minimize cost when preparing juices at home.
Keep in mind that a sour peach will make a sour juice. It's best to use ripe, in-season fruit for best flavor. Consider this while you shop, and don't be afraid to ask the produce clerk for a sample. They are typically happy to let you try before you buy. The same holds true for most farmers' markets and produce stands.
What's the Difference Between a Smoothie and a Juice?
Most of us know about smoothies, which are blended drinks made from fruits, juices, ice, and oftentimes a dairy component, like milk or yogurt; for a more dessert-like treat, frozen yogurt or sherbet can be used. A smoothie retains all the fiber of whatever fruits or vegetables it contains. A juice, however, is the liquid extracted from those ingredients, typically with much of the fiber removed. Both can be beneficial, and nutritionists debate which is most healthful. Those who favor juices claim that the lack of fiber allows nutrients to be absorbed better and more quickly into the body, while smoothie enthusiasts emphasize the importance of fiber for healthy digestion. But there's no need to limit yourself to one or the other: My kids and you know that both juices and smoothies are tasty and full of good stuff.
What Equipment Do You Need?
To make homemade juices and smoothies, you really need just two small kitchen appliances: a juicing machine for juices and a blender for smoothies. If you're not sure you want to make the investment, ask a friend or relative if you might borrow his or her machine for a week or so to give it a spin. By test-driving the appliance, you can see if it's a purchase you'd like to make.
There are several types of juicers to choose from.
To select the best one for you, factor in your family size, how often you plan to juice, and what items you want to juice. A good way to start, as you mentioned, is to borrow a juicer from a friend and see whether you like that type. Otherwise, begin with a small, inexpensive juicer and work yourself up to a bigger, badder machine as you see the need. We started with the least expensive juicer we could find, and it did a great job for our purposes at the outset. Later, as we became more committed to juicing, we switched to a higher-end model, which you found easier to assemble and clean and which did a more thorough job of extracting juice.
Always comparison shop and check thrift stores. There are plenty of folks out there who thought they would become juice masters and never even took the machine out of the box. You might find a good deal, thanks to those impulse shoppers.
Citrus juicers are the least expensive juicing machines. A citrus juicer, reamer, or press is used solely for juicing oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits. You will get the most juice out of these fruits with such a device. These juicers can range in style from a simple handheld reamer, which is good if you're only juicing one fruit, all the way through a countertop press and on to an electric citrus juicer that enables you to juice many fruits in one session. The kids and you take turns juicing them with the electric citrus juicer, to maximize our efficiency. A simple handheld citrus reamer can cost as little as a few bucks, while lower-end electric models start at about $15.
You can juice whole citrus fruits in other types of juicers, which may be quicker and more convenient, particularly when you are juicing several pieces of citrus fruit. But the actual juice yield will be less, and the peel can give the juice a slightly bitter taste, which could be off-putting for some kids. The peel and pith contain phytonutrients not present in the fruit's juicy insides.
The most common style of juicer, centrifugal juicing machines use a rapidly spinning fine-mesh basket or sieve with a grater on the bottom to shred the fruit or vegetable and separate the fiber from the juice. Some models are "nonejecting," meaning that they send the juice out a spout but hold the pulp in the juicer until it becomes full. At that point, the machine must be emptied before more juice can be made. An "automatic ejection" model is easier to operate and clean and can produce more juice in one session, since you don't have to stop to clean the machine. As the produce goes into the chute, the pulp is ejected into a canister at the back of the machine while the juice pours out the front spout. Prices for centrifugal juicers start as low as $40 and climb into the $200 range.
Some critics say that centrifugal juicers leave too much juice wasted in the pulp. You can lessen this waste by baking or cooking with the pulp. You can also line the ejection basket with a nut-milk bag or double layer of cheesecloth, then squeeze it to extract more juice from the fruit or veg. This can be a nice way to get the most from a lower-priced juicer, producing less waste and more juice.
A masticating juicer works more slowly, but is more efficient at extracting juice from the produce. Pieces of fruit are crushed and squeezed by an auger, and the juice is separated from the fiber. More prep work—that is, chopping the fruit—is needed. Since masticating juicers produce less friction and therefore less heat than centrifugal juicers, they are said to retain more of the nutrients in the juice.
These juicers can also produce nut butters, grind coffee and spices, and perform other kitchen tasks. They are more expensive than centrifugal juicers, however. Prices for masticating juicers begin at about $200 but can range as high as $400.
A juice press is operated by hydraulics that squeeze and press the juice from chopped fruit. Using a juice press is a two-step process in which the fruit is chopped in a food processor or blender and then squeezed in the press to extract the juice. Although there may be a greater yield of juice (and therefore less waste) with this type of juicer than with a centrifugal model, it is more expensive to purchase and less convenient to use. A low-end juice press costs about $300.
Blenders are ideal smoothie machines. They can crush, grind, and blend fruit, vegetables, and ice quickly and efficiently. Prices range from about $20 for a handheld immersion stick blender to $400 for a heavy-duty model worthy of a smoothie shop. You can also use a food processor to make smoothies, though it might not be as convenient.
Some blenders come with individually sized blender cups, which make cleanup easier and allow you to prepare different variations in quick succession. Alternatively, depending on your blender model, you may be able to screw regular-mouth Mason jars onto your blender base to use as singleserve blender cups.
You can also make juice in a blender or food processor by blending the fruit or vegetables and then straining out the liquid using a nut-milk bag or layered cheesecloth. This isn't the quickest or neatest way to juice, but it can be done. It's an economical shortcut to homemade juice if you don't have the money or counter space for a juicer or if you already own a high-powered blender.
Complete Juicing Blenders
There are some blenders that are marketed as "complete juicing machines." Unlike juice extractors, which separate the juice from the pulp, these highspeed blenders liquefy fruit and vegetables—skins, seeds, and all. Juices made with these machines obviously maintain all the fiber of the produce and are, therefore, thicker in consistency than traditional juices. This may take some getting used to, especially for children. The price for this type of blender can range from $100 to several hundred dollars.
Other Useful Equipment
Once you've got the tools to make your juices and smoothies, you might want to consider other kitchen items that help encourage children's enthusiasm about homemade juice. Convenience-food marketers know all too well that kids love bright, novel packaging. Beat them at their own game by making homemade juices fun as well as delicious. Remember that presentation matters, especially with kids.
Back in the day, your grandmother served small glasses of juice at every breakfast. In the 1950s and '60s, decorative juice glasses and colorfully printed jelly jar tumblers were de rigueur. Juice seems more special when it's in a "fancy" glass. Why else would kids fight over what color cup they get? (Clearly, it must improve the flavor) Search yard sales and thrift stores as well as your favorite kitchen shops for fun juice glasses. They needn't be large, as the ideal serving size is 4 to 6 ounces.
Tasting Or Shot Glasses
Two-ounce tasting glasses, or oversized shot glasses, are perfect for little hands. Homemade juice is so flavorful and rich that the smaller serving suits your younger crowd quite well. Plus, the mini portion makes it easy to say "Yes" to seconds and still stay under a young child's recommended limit for juice.
Insulated tumblers are ideal for smoothies, especially in the summer months when we want to take our frosty treats outdoors, on the road, and to the pool, where glass is a no-no. Unbreakable cups with lids are ideal for taking juices and smoothies away from home.
For home enjoyment, sturdy half-pint Mason jars make great smoothie vessels, especially when a wide straw is added.
All kids love straws. Let's be honest: Adults do, too Keep a supply on hand at all times. You can find straws made of paper, plastic, stainless steel, acrylic, and glass. Cocktail straws work well in small glasses.
Straws come in particularly handy when introducing a juice or smoothie that features an unfamiliar flavor and smell. Using a straw and a cup with a lid helps mask any potentially disconcerting aromas, allowing kids to focus on the taste itself.
Ice Pop Molds
If you're making ice pops from juice, you can use simple, old-school paper cups and food-safe plain wooden craft sticks. But there's a huge selection of plastic ice mold pops available online as well as in retail stores, offering a far greater variety of shapes and sizes. See [>] for ice pop techniques and hints on what to look for in an ice pop mold.
What Produce Should You Use?
Unless it's a special occasion and you need or want a specific item, you let sales dictate your meal planning—and your juicing as well.
Use what's inexpensive. Buy in-season, organic, and local, whenever possible. Do not be picky about which apples to buy, as long as they are organic and well priced. My target price for fruit is less than $1 per pound. Stock up at that price and try to avoid paying more than that. If you watch the sales and check the different stores in your area, You'll be surprised to find that there are great produce deals to be had. You just need to look for them.
Feel free to experiment with the recipes, using whichever fruits and vegetables are available and inexpensive. Keep in mind that, in the juices that blend fruit and vegetables, the fruit is often added to offset that veggie flavor that might prompt a child to wrinkle his or her nose. So for those juices, lean on sweeter varieties of apple such as Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn instead of the tarter Granny Smith, for example.
Fruits and vegetables are listed by size (small, medium, and large) rather than weight, with cup measures specified for berries and cubed melon. Juice making is a very flexible process, allowing for some variation of quantities. This is a good thing for us parents. What mom or dad has time to weigh each apple before juicing it while thirsty kids stand at the ready? Don't sweat it if a recipe calls for two large apples and you can only find small ones; just throw in one or two extras and call it good.
Keep in mind that juices will taste best when the fruits are at their peak. A slightly under-ripe plum isn't going to be as flavorful as one that is fully ripe. A watermelon that's imported in winter won't be as tasty as the watermelon your local farmer grows in summer. Using in-season, fully ripe produce will give you the best-tasting juices.
As with all things juicing, remember that your mileage may vary. A given variety of apples or oranges may taste different from shipment to shipment. Grocery stores have different suppliers, so you may get a great bunch of grapes from one shop and a sad, sorry lot from the store down the street. Shop wisely; if you need help, ask the produce manager. They are usually more than happy to assist you in choosing the best produce.
How Do You Prep the Produce?
Different types of juicers require different levels of ingredient prep. Always follow the recommendations made by your juicer's manufacturer. Read the manual that came with your juicing machine.
The most basic step is to wash the vegetables and fruit according to their type. Scrub them with a vegetable brush and spray them with a white vinegar rinse made up of three parts water to one part vinegar to kill some germs and remove some pesticides that might be present on the fresh produce. Numerous studies have shown that vinegar is just as effective as commercial produce washes, if not more so. However, similar studies are vague on vinegar's effectiveness against E. coli and salmonella. Take care that your fresh produce does not become cross-contaminated with these harmful bacteria by storing meats separately from fruits and vegetables and by practicing proper kitchen cleanliness.
For masticating juicers, You'll need to chop the fruit and veggies according to the manufacturer's recommendations. If you are using a wide-mouth centrifugal juice extractor, you can use many of your fruits whole. A 3-inch feeding tube allows several carrots to pass through at one time, making for quick juicing. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
Remove any seeds, peel, or pith that you would not normally eat, and you trim any inedible parts, like rotten or bruised spots that might harbor bacteria. These affect the quality of your juice as well as of the pulp that you might use in baking later.
What About the Pulp?
Through the juicing process, the pulp and fiber are separated from the juice. You're obviously going to drink the juice. But what should you do with the pulp that's left over? It seems a shame to waste it.
You don't have to throw out that pulp, which is completely edible. Depending on what type of produce is in the pulp, you can use it in baking and cooking to benefit from the additional fiber and nutrients. Simmer vegetable pulp in savory stocks or mix it into sauces and stews, meat loaves, and meatballs. Stir fruit pulp into pancake batter, muffin mix, or cookie dough. Adapt your favorite carrot cake or zucchini bread to use leftover pulp.
If you're not planning to bake or cook with the pulp right after juicing, store it in 1- or 2-cup portions in the freezer. Lining the pulp basket with a large zip-top plastic bag makes storage and cleanup particularly easy.
Don't bake? No problem. You can also compost the pulp.
What About Cleaning the Juicing Machine?
I'm so glad you asked Yes, you need to clean up after yourself. Immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, until you've cleaned the machine.
If you're a parent, you know what happens if you leave a child's meal on the table for an hour before cleaning up. The splashes and spills transform into glue that takes extreme elbow grease and more than a little muttering to scrape off. If you had rinsed and wiped right away, you could have saved yourself an hour of frustration.
The same holds true for the juicing machine. Read the manual that comes with your machine to learn exactly how it should be disassembled and cleaned. Commit this to memory and do it as soon as you are done with your juicing session. And be sure to give everything—counters, backsplash, juicing machine base—a good wipe down as well.
How Should You Store Your Juices and Smoothies?
One of the benefits of drinking homemade juices and smoothies is that they are as fresh as it gets. Additives and preservatives are included in the prepackaged versions for a reason: to maintain color and extend the shelf life of the product.
To make the most of the nutrients in your homemade drinks, enjoy them the day they're prepared, preferably right away. If you want to pack them for the road or store them in the fridge for a few hours, consider adding a little lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Fresh apple juice in particular turns brown fairly quickly, so drink it up right away.
If you've got leftover juice, don't throw it out. Freeze it. Both juices and smoothies freeze and thaw well. Freeze fresh juices in single-serving cups with lids to make it easy on the other side of thawing. Freezer-safe Mason jars work well for this. You can also make ice pops with leftover juice.
Homemade juices have become a part of our family's food culture.
Jazzy Fruit Juices
Fruit juices are fun, sweet, and tasty. Consider them a supplement to a healthy diet, not a substitute for regular meals or whole fruit. These juices will be naturally sweeter and more filling than their commercially made counterparts. Add water to taste if you or your children prefer a milder juice.
Presumably, folks back in the far reaches of time made juice when they had an excess of fruit on hand. It was always consumed fresh, since it would spoil or ferment into alcohol if stored. In 1869, a dentist by the name of Thomas Welch developed a process for pasteurizing grape juice to prevent it from becoming alcoholic. Juices were then bottled or canned using this method. Later, in the 1940s, frozen juice concentrates were developed, with the goal of providing World War II troops with better-tasting juices.
Juicing has long been a great way to use up a glut of fruit that might otherwise spoil or die in a hard freeze. We can take a lesson from history by snatching up fruit when it goes on sale or using excess produce from the garden or orchard. Since we now have the option of freezing, there's no need to worry about pasteurization when preparing your own juice. Drink it fresh or freeze the leftovers.
Six Ways to Juice on a Budget
It takes a lot of fruit or vegetables to make juice. It may seem like a waste. How can turning all that produce into a few cups of juice be economical? However, homemade juices are clearly less expensive than the store-bought varieties. So, how can we make the most of what we have?
If the recent recession taught us anything, it's that none of us are immune to downturns in the economy. It always helps to be mindful of our spending. Our family has fought the hard battle of unemployment and struggled to get out of debt. you think we're the wiser for it. We've learned how to stretch our resources. Use these strategies to make homemade juices wisely and economically.
1. BUY IN SEASON.
Buy fruits and vegetables in season, choosing locally grown and organic if possible. Not only will they taste better, they are often less expensive, too. Watermelon in winter is bland and pricey. Watermelon in summer is sweet and plentiful.
2. STOCK UP WHEN YOU SEE A SALE.
If you juice regularly, You'll be going through vast quantities of certain fruits and vegetables, particularly carrots, apples, and pears. When you see good sales on these items, stock up. Apples and carrots keep for a long time under refrigeration. Buy pears when they are still green and allow them to ripen on the counter. If other fruits or vegetables go on sale during the week, snatch them up and work them into your juices.
3. FIND IT FOR FREE
Keep your eyes and ears open for free produce opportunities. Often folks with backyard gardens and orchards are happy to unload their surplus, as long as you're willing to come to harvest it. Check the want ads for home gardeners giving away their glut of goodies. When you hear friends and family complain of excess produce, by all means offer to take it off their hands.
4. GROW YOUR OWN.
One of the best things your dad ever did was plant a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard. Forty years later, it supplies our families with hundreds of prime citrus fruits every year.
If you've got the space and inclination, plant a fruit tree or garden. With sunshine, water, and a little attention, you can grow your own fruits and vegetables, often for a fraction of the price that the grocery store charges.
5. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR FARMER.
Whether you meet him at the farmers' market or connect with her at the roadside fruit stand, get to know the folks who grow food in your community. Ask how you can get produce at a discount. It may mean picking up what's left over at the end of the market day or swinging by to grab items that are getting too ripe. You might even have the opportunity to trade your time for fruits and vegetables by working the stand for them.
6. JOIN A CSA.
Community-supported agriculture is a great way to connect with and support local farmers. Typically, you subscribe to receive a share of the grower's produce each week, usually paying much less than you would at retail. CSA farmers sometimes offer a "u-pick for free" opportunity for their members. Find out what's available in your community.
How to Get Your Kids Involved in Making Homemade Juices
1. SHOW THEM WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM.
Children take an interest in their world and our food supply when they know where the edibles come from. If you can, bring them with you on a trip to a local farm, a stroll through the farmers' market, or a simple run to the grocery store.
Take the time to show them gardening books or cookbooks with illustrations of fruits and vegetables, so that the kids can learn more about the foods they eat. Go berry or apple picking. If you have the space and inclination, plant a fruit tree or a few garden plants in the backyard.
2. LET THE KIDS CHOOSE.
One night you had a brainstorm: take the kids to the store with me and let them choose dessert—from the produce section. The younger three took me up on the offer and were thrilled to do so. When the littles came home with baskets of blueberries and personal-size watermelons, the older kids regretted their decision to stay home. Luckily for them, they've got generous siblings.
arned that it's valuable to let kids help choose the fruits and vegetables we juice, too. They are more likely to try the juice and more likely to love it. Having ownership over the experience increases their interest in it.
3. LISTEN TO THEIR FEEDBACK.
All people appreciate it when you respect their opinions and wishes. Kids are no different. When we value their feedback, we show that we respect them. My kids don't love the flavor of celery juice. you keep this in mind and limit its use. Likewise, if there's a certain juice they prefer, you try to make that one often.
4. LET THEM DO IT.
Teach your children kitchen skills—it will serve them well for life. Prepping fruits and vegetables for juicing is an easy activity for kids. The littlest ones can wash and scrub the produce, while older kids can help trim carrot tops or peel oranges. My friend Stacy preps the vegetables for juicing, but her son does the actual juicing.
Include your kids in meal prep whenever possible. This teaches them valuable life skills and increases their interest in culinary endeavors.
5. MAKE JUICE, NOT WAR.
Remember that it's a process. Not every kid will like every juice or smoothie. Not every kid will like participating in the kitchen—at first. But if you make kitchen prep a regular activity, your kids will learn to see it as normative. Keep it positive.
Eventually, your kids will come to have a sense of ownership over their own food choices. They'll know the right choices to make because you taught them. And chances are, if their experiences have been positive ones, they'll continue to make good food choices long after you stop buying their groceries.
And that's really the point of all this, isn't it?
When do you make something into a juice? And when do you make a smoothie? One major difference between the two is that smoothies contain fiber and juices do not. There's a great debate about which is best for you, and both sides have valid points. Juicing fans say that we maximize our intake of vitamins and minerals by drinking juice without the fiber. (And studies have shown that consuming reasonable quantities of juice will not cause tooth decay or weight gain, as some have suggested.) Smoothie fans, on the other hand, root for including fiber to aid healthy digestion.
Consider the fruit or vegetables you have on hand. What sounds good today?
JUICE IT ALL.
Almost any fruit or vegetable can be juiced, with the exception of bananas and avocados. Since they are so soft, pulpy, and "creamy," those are best left for smoothies.
USE THE SOFT IN SMOOTHIES.
Soft fruits and vegetables, like berries, bananas, stone fruit, pineapple, mangoes, kale, spinach, and avocados will puree easily in the blender, making them ideal candidates for smoothies. But very hard fruits and vegetables, like apples, carrots, or uncooked sweet potatoes, won't easily or quickly blend to a smooth consistency in a standard blender. Save those for juicing, or use them lightly cooked.
ON INGREDIENTS: Crushed ice works well for making smooth smoothies in a standard blender, leaving no big chunks of ice cube to wrangle with at the bottom of the cup. If your refrigerator's icemaker doesn't have a crushed-ice option, simply place several ice cubes in a zip-top freezer bag and pound it a few times with a kitchen mallet to break up the cubes.
Some varieties of fruit, like strawberries or bananas, may be a little resistant to smooth blending when frozen. Allow these items to thaw for a few minutes before blending to achieve a smoother texture.
Feel free to boost your smoothies with other ingredients, such as flax seeds, chia seeds, protein powder, or dry powdered milk. Chopped leafy greens practically disappear in smoothies, boosting their nutrition while leaving children none the wiser.
ON BLENDERS: Many use a blender with individual "party cups." These are individual mugs that fit onto the blender base. Thanks to these handy cups, every kid can have a different flavor when you make smoothies. you don't have to make a whole pitcher and hear the inevitable "But you don't want that kind." This way, too, you don't have to wash a large blender and all the separate serving cups. With the party cups, you can serve in the blending vessel itself.
If you don't already have this type of blender, you don't need to make a special purchase. Standard Mason jars fit a standard blender base, allowing you to use them as party cups.
And of course, those of you with high-speed, smoothie-bar-quality blenders will find making smoothies a super-simple affair, with or without the party cups.
ON MAKING SMOOTHIES AHEAD: Smoothies are very freezer friendly. You can make a bulk batch and freeze the smoothies in individual containers with lids. They will thaw quickly on the counter, making for easy on-the-go breakfasts and snacks.
ON MAKING IT SELF-SERVE: We have set up the bottom drawer of our freezer as a DIY smoothie station. There, your kids can find a variety of frozen fruit. you freeze dollops of plain yogurt on a plastic-lined baking sheet. Once those are frozen, you collect them in a zip-top freezer bag and store the bag in the smoothie station. Family members can then create their own custom smoothies whenever they want, since they know where to find all the ingredients.
ON WASTING LESS: Smoothies are typically based on fruits and dairy. These are items that can spoil if not used in a timely fashion. Freeze a surplus of fruit and enjoy it later in smoothies. Bananas, peaches, and berries freeze well without any special treatment. Place washed berries or peeled and sliced bananas or peaches on a lined baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer. Once the fruit is frozen, place it in a zip-top freezer bag, and store the bag in the freezer.
The same can be done for dairy items like milk or yogurt. Freeze either in ice cube trays. Thicker yogurts can be dropped in dollops onto a plastic-lined baking sheet and placed in the freezer. Once the cubes or dollops are frozen, place them in a labeled, zip-top freezer bag and store the bag in the freezer.
Ice pops are a surefire hit with your crew on warm spring days, hot summer nights, and, well, any time. I've yet to meet a kid who will turn down a frozen pop.
They are also welcome comforts when the kids have fevers or upset tummies. Sucking on an ice pop allows for slow rehydration—important during and after bouts of stomach trouble. And mamas in labor can benefit from a tasty ice pop as well. My nurse in labor and delivery offered them to me to give me stamina for that physical journey into motherhood.
Ice Pop Molds
One of the keys to making ice pops is finding the right molds. Some cheaper plastic molds just don't work. How disappointing when the frozen ice pop stays behind in the mold while the stick pulls clean out
Often this is because the plastic stick has no holes in it Good old-fashioned wooden popsicle sticks are porous and expand in water, so the liquid adheres to the stick as it freezes. Good quality plastic ice pop molds will have holes in the stick so that the liquid freezes through the stick and holds firm.
Look for BPA-free molds with wooden sticks or plastic sticks with several holes in them. My husband retrofitted an inexpensive set we had by drilling three holes through each stick.
Remember, too, that you can also make ice pops without a special mold. Use small paper or plastic cups with flat wooden spoons, wooden craft sticks, or regular wooden ice pop sticks. If the liquid is not thick enough to hold the stick upright, you can do one of two things:
Cover the cup with plastic wrap and cut a small hole for the stick to slide through.
Allow the liquid to freeze slightly, and add the stick as soon as the liquid can hold it upright.
About Coconut Water
Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the center of a coconut. It has a light, nutty flavor.
Coconut water has been on the rise as a natural substitute for sports drinks because of its high potassium and mineral content. It is naturally fat- and cholesterol-free and has as much potassium as a banana. Look for coconut water that is unsweetened and is labeled as 100 percent coconut water.
While adults everywhere have seemed to jump on the kale bandwagon, it might be a little harder to get the kids to love kale. But now is a good time to get their palates acquainted with this nutrient-rich leafy green. It is often called one of the healthiest vegetables, filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It is also a great source of fiber.
Kale has a deep, earthy flavor, but it can sometimes be bitter, so it's not so easy to hide in a smoothie.
About Acai Juice
The acai berry comes from the rain forests of Central and South America, where Brazilian natives have been using this fruit for hundreds of years for healing and to boost energy. It has been called a superfood because it contains antioxidants, amino acids, and omega fatty acids. It also packs a good amount of protein.
Acai tastes like a raspberry or blackberry with chocolate undertones. Not everyone loves the taste of the juice straight from the bottle, but it mixes well with other fruits and vegetables in smoothies. It looks like cloudy prune juice, but don't let the color deter you. When mixed with other ingredients in a smoothie, it adds a nice purple hue.
Check the label of acai juice products and make sure that the first ingredient is acai. Some brands are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals—which is great.
Choosing Milk for Smoothies
When a recipe calls for milk, keep the dietary needs and preferences of your children in mind. If your kids don't have any allergies or restrictions, stick with cow's milk, but rice, soy, almond, and coconut milk are all options. Different milks might change the overall flavor of a smoothie, so experiment to see if making a substitution will work.
All you really need for making smoothies is a blender. And while you believe that a high-speed blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix makes preparing smoothies easier, you don't have to shell out the big bucks in order to make smoothies at home. In fact, you tested every smoothie in this book with a lower-end blender, just to make sure that everyone can make each recipe at home. But here are a few things to keep in mind if you are not using a high-speed blender:
Without a high-speed blender, you may not get a super smooth consistency. Things like dates or oatmeal may not blend as well in a cheaper blender. You may end up with little chunks, so depending on your kids and their preferences, this might be an issue. Otherwise, you suggest soaking dates or oatmeal for 10 to 15 minutes.
To get the smoothest consistency, blend the dates or oatmeal with the liquid called for in the smoothie before adding the rest of the ingredients.
You need less liquid in a high-speed blender. If you are using a highspeed blender, you might want to start with less liquid. When you used cheaper blenders, you noticed that more liquid was needed to keep the ingredients moving, because cheap blenders don't have as much power as the higher end machines. You may want to experiment by adding only part of the liquids to begin with, and then adding a bit at a time until you get the right consistency.
The order of ingredients doesn't matter as much in a high-speed blender. If you're using a high-speed blender, just throw the ingredients in and blend. If you are using a cheaper blender, start by adding the liquid, followed by frozen fruits and/or vegetables, then any additions, then any fresh fruits or vegetables. Add the ice last.
Be patient with a cheaper blender. You can make any smoothie in a cheaper blender, but you may have to stop several times to stir the ingredients around to get everything blended in. Just have patience and know that it may take several minutes.
Even as an adult, you think it's sometimes hard to drink a smoothie—especially a thick one—straight from the glass. So unless you want to be cleaning smoothie mess off of your kids and your floor, always keep straws on hand.
Designated smoothie cups—ones with lids and straws that you could wash easily—were indispensable. Lids are important because many of the smoothies contain ingredients that will stain or make a mess, and, as you know, kids can get messy. Go for a simple design. The first cups you bought had straws that wound through different parts of the cup. It was practically impossible to get them clean. Colored cups are helpful if you have a child who is picky about the color of the smoothies. Green smoothies can be hidden away easily inside an opaque purple cup with a lid But you might want some clear cups too for when you make a layered smoothie like Candy Corn ([>]). Most retail stores that have a kitchen section will sell a variety of cups. You can also find them easily online.
Liquids for Smoothies:
My kids don't have any dairy intolerance or allergies, so cow's milk is the milk Use most often. Kids need fat, so you never use skim milk. Use 2% for your kids, but you can use whole milk if you are making the smoothie for a child two years old or younger. Cow's milk is a complete protein, containing the right proportions of all nine essential amino acids your body needs to form proteins. Cow's milk is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12.
Soy milk is not technically a milk; it's made from soybeans. Soy milk tends to be used by people with lactose intolerance, but it contains less protein than cow's milk. It is also lower in sugar and calories than cow's milk. Look for soy milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamins because they are not normally found in soy milk. There is some controversy surrounding soy milk, though; some studies indicate that it interferes with vitamin absorption.
Rice milk is made by processing cooked rice. Rice milk contains no lactose, so it is an option for those with lactose intolerance, but it is high in carbohydrates and has little protein. It is naturally sweeter than other milks, but beware of added sugars. Rice milk is not normally a good source of vitamins, so look for rice milk fortified with vitamins and minerals.
COCONUT MILK BEVERAGE
Use the coconut milk beverage that's sold in shelf-stable boxes—not full-fat, canned coconut milk. The coconut milk beverage is thinner and easier to incorporate into a smoothie than the canned coconut milk. Coconut milk is lower in protein and calcium than cow's milk, but it is also lower in calories. It does have a light coconut flavor that will be recognizable in some smoothies, so keep that in mind if you are substituting it for cow's milk. Read the label to make sure that the product contains only coconut milk and filtered water. Do not substitute coconut water for coconut milk beverage in the smoothie recipes. For more information on coconut water—the juice from inside a coconut—please see the box on [>].
Almond milk is a popular alternative to regular milk because it is mild in flavor and has a consistency similar to cow's milk. It is lower in protein than cow's milk, and it is usually fortified so that the calcium content is similar to that of cow's milk. Almond milk is more nutrient-rich than some other milk alternatives, and as long as you don't have a nut allergy, it is a good substitute. Make sure you buy plain, unsweetened almond milk to use in these recipes; there can be a lot of added sugars in the flavored varieties.
What Milk Do You Want to Use?
In most cases, you can substitute one milk for another, depending on your kids' preferences and dietary needs. Just keep in mind that cow's milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and almond milk have different flavor profiles and consistencies.
When buying juice for a smoothie, remember to always read the label to make sure the product is 100 percent juice, with no sugar or extras added. Juices like orange or apple juice are often found in the refrigerated section, but most grocery stores will have a designated section near the produce section for fresh and natural fruit juices, where you can find juices like pomegranate or acai juice.
When a recipe calls for lemon or lime juice, make sure you are squeezing fresh juice from the fruit yourself. The bottled versions often contain all kinds of preservatives and don't taste nearly as good as fresh juice.
The only vegetable juice that you typically use is carrot juice. you find that it's much easier to add to a smoothie than actual carrots. You can usually find it in the fresh fruit juice section of your grocery store.
Because you want your kids to get extra nutrients, you add milk or juice to the smoothies you make, but there is nothing wrong with using plain water. Sometimes you need a little liquid to get things moving, and water will work just fine. I'll also add water to cut the strong flavor of some ingredients such as grapefruit juice.
Fruits and Veggies for Smoothies
Use fruits and vegetables as the major bulk of your smoothies. That way you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition, and that's your main purpose in serving smoothies to your kids.
Many use a lot of frozen fruit in your smoothies. It gives the smoothie that icy, thick texture we love. Whenever possible,freeze the fruit myself. First, because you think it tastes better. you can wait until the fruit is at its peak ripeness before freezing it, ensuring that it is super sweet and perfect for smoothies. When you use fruit that is ripe and sweet, you won't need to add sweeteners. Stock up when fruit is in season and on sale. Fresh fruit will be cheaper than commercially frozen fruit, which I've found to be inconsistent. Sometimes it's nice and sweet; other times it will have little flavor.
There are a few fruits that you add fresh instead of frozen, such as apples and oranges. And when you add vegetables, they're always fresh.
Vegetables are actually quite easy to incorporate into smoothies since some of them have some natural sweetness while others have flavors mild enough to "hide" with other more prominent flavors. you love the sweetness beets and carrots bring. Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and celery have flavors that easily blend when they are paired with bolder flavors. Cucumbers bring a refreshing flavor that is unique.
Wash them and then dry them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Hull strawberries before washing and drying them. Once the berries are dried, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer.
Wash, dry, and pit cherries before freezing them.
Start with seedless grapes. Wash them and then dry them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Then transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This ensures that the fruit doesn't freeze to the baking sheet.
Arrange the fruit in a single layer and transfer it to the freezer until it is frozen solid. Once the fruit is frozen, transfer it to a labeled freezersafe zip-top plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible, and return the fruit to the freezer.
Buy small or seedless watermelons so you don't have to pick out all the black seeds. Cut honeydew melons and cantaloupes in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the melons in wedges and then remove the rinds. Then cut the fruit into chunks before transferring it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freezing the melon.
Bananas are one of the fruits Use the most in your smoothies. you love the consistency that frozen bananas give to smoothies, and so do your kids. Use two kinds.
Underripe bananas provide texture and a little sweetness without a lot of banana flavor. Look for bananas that are mostly green, with just a little yellow on the peel.
Ripe bananas provide that same texture, but with lots of banana flavor and lots of sweetness. you like mine really ripe, when there is more brown and black than there is yellow on the peel.
Peel the bananas and freeze them whole. Make sure to label the freezer bags so you will know which are ripe and which are underripe. They should be soft enough to slice when you take them out of the freezer; if not, let them sit on the counter for 5 minutes.
When making a green smoothie, use a Granny Smith apple. Otherwise you just use whatever variety of apple you have on hand and that your kids like. you keep the peels on, but peel them if the added texture doesn't go over well with your kids.
Peel the fruit. Standing the fruit up vertically on your cutting board, carefully slice through one side of the mango, being careful not to cut into the pit. Make another cut on the other side of the pit. Trim off any flesh that remains on either side of the pit. Cut the mango flesh into chunks.
Peel, halve, and seed the papayas. Cut them into chunks.
Freestone peaches are the easiest to prep. Wash and dry the fruit, then cut it in half and remove the pit. Cut the peaches into slices. you don't think it's worth the hassle to peel peaches.
Peel pears or not. Cut the fruit into vertical quarters and remove the core. Cut the pears into chunks.
Cut off the top and bottom, then cut off the skin. Cut the pineapple into vertical quarters, then lay the quarters on their sides and cut off the core. Cut the pineapple quarters into chunks.
There are many things you can add to your smoothie to give it extra nutrition and flavor.
Flaxseed is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. you love adding flaxseed because it's easy to throw some into a smoothie, and it doesn't affect the taste or texture.
Chia seeds add a dose of essential omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and calcium. When adding chia seeds, make sure you consume the smoothie right away, as the seeds can absorb any water in the smoothie, giving it a gelatinous consistency. This will help to thicken up the smoothie, but it may create a texture that is not popular among kids.
Yogurt is one of your favorite additions. It gives a smoothie an element of creaminess and is a great source of protein, calcium, and live bacterial cultures, which are good for digestion. you always use plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt typically has two times more protein than regular yogurt. Plus its thick texture works really well in smoothies. If you'd prefer to use regular yogurt, go ahead, but remember that the smoothie will be thinner.
Oatmeal is a great addition if you are looking for something to bulk up your smoothies and give them more staying power. Oatmeal is great for stabilizing blood sugar, which means your kids will stay fuller longer without having any blood sugar crashes.
Not only do different nut butters add great flavor to smoothies, they are also high in heart-healthy fats and protein. We have always loved peanut butter but recently we have fallen in love with almond butter. You can also look for cashew butter, or you can even find nut-free substitutes.
Extracts are a great way to add a lot of flavor without adding bulk or calories. My favorite is vanilla extract, as it is the easiest to combine with other flavors, but your kids also love mint, lemon, and coconut extracts. Make sure you are using a pure extract when possible, and remember that a small amount goes a long way toward flavoring a smoothie.
Most rely on ripe fruit and berries to sweeten most of your smoothies, but sometimes you need to add a bit of sweetener. you stick to your favorites—agave syrup, honey, dates, and pure maple syrup—but this is a great place to experiment to see what your kids like and what works well with your diets. Giving your kids foods containing natural sweeteners is better for them because their blood glucose levels will rise slowly and steadily. You will be avoiding the crash and subsequent hunger kids experience after eating store-bought snacks such as cookies, candies, and soda pop.
This sweetener has the mildest flavor and therefore doesn't change the taste of the smoothie. Most agave syrups come from the blue agave plant, grown primarily in Mexico. It is one and a half times sweeter than sugar, so use it sparingly.
Honey is also sweeter than sugar, so you don't have to use as much of it. Different kinds of honey have different tastes, some of them very distinct and assertive. Use clover honey. When purchasing honey, read the label to make sure you are getting pure, natural honey without any additives.
PURE MAPLE SYRUP
Pure maple syrup makes a great sweetener, but it also has a distinct taste. Use it when you want that maple flavor. Maple syrup contains a good amount of healthy vitamins and minerals, so it is a good choice if you need to add a sweetener.
Dates are another one of your favorite sweeteners. It's easy to add one or two to your smoothie and blend away. If you have a cheaper blender, dates won't always blend completely, but macerating them a bit beforehand will help. you buy dates in the bulk section at your grocery store. They're fairly inexpensive and they will keep for several months in the pantry.