By Molly Burke, FoodCorps service member
The next time your kid is bored with their breakfast, why not let them play with their food? Kids love to get artsy with what they eat, and a healthy way to encourage that creativity is to let them decorate fruit-and-veggie-packed smoothie bowls. A smoothie bowl is just what it sounds like--a thick smoothie poured into a bowl and eaten with a spoon instead of sipped through a straw. Smoothie bowls started gaining popularity in 2015 on social media and food blogs due to their eye-catching color combinations and health benefits.
In Instagram posts and fitness magazine articles, they’re pictured lavishly topped with rainbows of chopped tropical fruit, stripes of nuts and seeds, piles of granola, and sometimes generous dustings of chocolate chips. Common smoothie ingredients include nutrient-dense produce like spinach, kale, acai berries, and avocado. By all accounts, a smoothie bowl for breakfast is a great way to get a bunch of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your system before you start your day.
If you’ve never had a smoothie bowl, this may sound and look like an expensive, time-consuming, possibly not tasty mess; there are too many toppings to keep up with, and you’re not so sure about vegetable smoothies. Fear not--there’s no need to break the bank to make a beautiful and delicious smoothie bowl. The best smoothie vegetables are spinach, shredded carrots, beets, and kale. Instead of more expensive fruit, opt for frozen bananas, strawberries or peaches. It’s easy to mask vegetable flavors with fruit--just add a larger amount of fruit than vegetables, and you won’t taste any bitterness. For affordable toppings, try whole grain, low-sugar cereal like Cheerios, puffed rice, or shredded wheat, and other items like peanuts, almond slivers, and sunflower seeds. Baking your own granola at home with rolled oats, honey, and cinnamon can be cheaper and healthier than buying super sugary, pre-made granola. Or try sprinkling broken-up granola bars. Save this for a weekend breakfast or after-school snack until your kids find their favorite combinations. They’ll be smoothie bowl building pros in no time.
Here’s a recipe for mix-and-match fruit and vegetable smoothies. For smoothie bowls, use less liquid so the consistency stays thick. That way, it won’t melt by the time you’re ready to eat.
Last week, a class of 5th graders at Stefanik had a lot of fun decorating beet and spinach smoothies. They used Cheerios, sunflower seeds, and nut-free 88 Acres granola bars as toppings and left class with bellies full of a healthy, satisfying snack. Experiment with this at home and see what your kids come up with! Send us pictures at email@example.com.
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.