You guys, I suck at cooking vegetables.
I blame my English heritage. Growing up we ate a lot of meat and frozen veg. (I mean, it was frozen and then cooked, my mom wasn’t putting ice peas on my plate). After moving to Canada my mom branched out from what she’d been taught and there were salads and other veg served but by then I was already a “Give me potatoes or give me death” kind of person and had no interest in green things.
Anyway, suffice to say partly due to upbringing and partly due to personal tastes, I am not a huge vegetable person. I am learning, though, that vegetables can actually be delicious. My husband has cooked up some mighty fine dishes (who knew red cabbage could be yummy?), and I discovered this recipe for crack broccoli a year or two ago and have never had so much gas in my life. (Fun fact: eat too much cauliflower or broccoli and you get the toots! Worth it though, try the recipe.)
Still, though, vegetables aren’t super high on my meal planning radar. There has been many a meal that I’ve slaved over and had ready to serve only to realize I have completely forgotten veg. Sometimes I throw on a side of frozen peas and other times I throw caution to the wind and we just eat meat and potatoes.
So what all this boils down to is that I seriously need to work on getting vegetables into my kids. And you know what? It’s HARD!!
I am really great about fruit but veggies not so much, and other than sometimes eating peppers (expensive!) and cucumber, neither of my kids like raw stuff, (too crunchy, even with dip) so that means I have to cook it.
And yeah, I have boiled cauliflower and hidden it in mac ‘n cheese but that takes work, folks, and remembering. (I always remember after it is cooked and then it’s too late.)
This is where smoothies changed my life.
Not just ANY smoothies, GREEN smoothies.
I am a big avoider of trends, and I know green smoothies were a trend awhile ago, so for ages I wrote them off. Also, there is nothing I hate more than someone turning something yummy into something healthy and then trying to claim it is still yummy. Those brownies made with avocado? They’re not brownies. Stop kidding yourself.
I assumed green smoothies would be the same – a gross-tasting version of their delicious cousin, the FRUIT smoothie – but one day I must have been overcome with mommy guilt over the lack of greens my child was eating so I googled some recipes.
I found this amazing list from Cosmo mag, and started with the avocado green one, mostly because those are the ingredients I had (minus the optional flax seed, because really.) Pineapple and banana I was all good with, but spinach and avocado had me worried. I followed the recipe and went for it, though, because Cosmo claimed it tasted good and we all know Cosmo is never wrong. (Ha.)
When i finished blending it, it was totally green. Not slightly green but REALLY green-giant kinda green. Nervously I tried it, eyes closed and mouth scrunched in fear. And you know what?
It was freakin’ delicious.
Like, legitimately good, not “pretty good for being made with spinach” good.
And that was the moment my life changed. Any time I feel like we haven’t done well in the vegetable department that week, I blend up a smoothie and can pat myself on the back. That one time I accidentally* served french fries for 3 meals in a row, all the mom guilt went away when I paired meal #3 with a green smoothie! There’s yogurt (usually) and fruit in there too, so boom – balanced(ish) diet!
I began to experiment with other fruits and have basically discovered that a base of spinach and a half avocado (or whole one if you’re making a large serving) goes with any kind of fruit combination.
Our usual is spinach, avocado, banana, yogurt (whatever flavour) and then whatever fruit we have, fresh or frozen, usually strawberries or blueberries. If we have juice I add some (I do not fear sugar), if not I just add a splash of water.
The possibilities are endless. Though I’m not entirely sure my sad little blender could handle it, my sister has assured me that carrots are great in there too, and I have used kale instead of spinach on occasion but if I’m honest I rarely have kale in my house (see that bit above about how I hate trends).
Both my kids LOVE smoothies, and I love being able to serve chicken nuggets and french fries and a smoothie and then telling people my kids had spinach for dinner.
Lazy parenting. It’s what I do best.
*I didn’t accidentally serve french fries three times in a row. I knew what I was doing, I just didn’t plan it. I was out at the mall with the kids so I bought them fries for lunch to keep them happy in the shopping cart and came home to eat dinner Daddy had cooked… which included French fries. The next day I can’t remember exactly what happened but I’m pretty sure I ruined what was supposed to be our actual dinner so just threw fries in the oven. And made a smoothie to assuage my guilt.