It’s not hard to understand why so many American families who are bounded by busy schedules suffer from poor nutrition. The busyness trap I, myself, am often ensnared in leaves me with little energy most days to consistently make good decisions about what to feed my family.

With each of my children in one summer activity, I find myself each day in the car shuttling kids around the city to and from home. Add a few parties, play dates, and sleepovers here and there and my “common sense” defenses are weakened as I give into carbohydrate filled snacks (crackers, toast, pretzels, cereal, cookies, etc) as if it was the most dominant food group on the food pyramid. This dilemma is a reality many families face on a daily basis.

Last week I had a moment of hyper-awareness that woke me up out of my healthy nutrition slumber. After falling prey to a severe allergy attack and spending most of the day on the couch, I mentally took note of the ratio of healthy (raw whole) foods my kids ingested throughout the day compared to snacks like crackers. What I observed was startling.

At a ratio of 3-1 my kids were essentially snacking on empty calories. When I left them to make their own decisions about food, they went for flour baked snacks most of the time. I was not happy. I let my guard down and they took advantage of the opportunity with little resistance from me.

The next day I decided that a lack of energy was no excuse for allowing for poor decision making. I stocked up on fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts and nothing else. The next day when they were searching for snacks I was relieved to see them eat local strawberries so vibrantly red and fragrant. It was such a nice contrast to the processed “brown” snacks they had been consuming a day before.

The sleeping giant within me had been woken.

I share my story with you because although I write about food often, I also struggle with the busyness trap many of you struggle with. Sometimes I choose convenience above making healthier choices and I remind myself that in parenting it never needs to be all or nothing. Finding a healthy balance is attainable; it just takes a little more than parenting from the couch or the driver’s seat of a car.

Today I have a berry smoothie recipe for you that is filled with anti-oxidants and other great vitamins your family will love and can be easily made for busy families on the go. Inspired by a popular drink at a juice bar chain, this cold refreshing smoothie is the perfect snack you can feel good about feeding your kids. My version incorporates a nice amount of spinach because it blends beautifully and the fruit does an excellent job in masking the spinach flavor -great for kids who dislike eating leafy greens.

Recipe: Triple Berry Spinach Smoothie

  • Prep Time: 3 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 1 min(s)
  • Total Time: 4 min(s)
  • Servings: 3-4

A cold, healthy, and refreshing smoothie made with berries and spinach.

Ingredients

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup frozen blueberries
    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • ½ cup frozen raspberries
    • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed spinach
    • Agave syrup or other sweetener (if necessary) *The natural sweetness of some fruits will vary in acidity and tartness depending on when they were picked.  Although fruit in itself is naturally sweet, sometimes they are more tart in flavor, especially frozen berries.

Instructions

    • Add the orange juice, fruit, and spinach to a blender. Blend on medium-high speed until the all the spinach is blended and there is no visible green specks.
    • Add up to 2 tablespoons of agave syrup if necessary to sweeten.
    • Add additional ice cubes for a more icier drink.

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  • Jennifer

    Why would you even suggest agave syrup if you’re trying to get your kids on a health kick? This smoothie already has lots of sugar (occurring naturally in the fruit, I know) but adding more unnaturally seems to totally defeat you posting this recipe and feeding your children something healthy. Just keep it simple with the fruit and spinach!!

  • Samantha

    Thanks for being so honest about what you’re feeding your kids. Adding agave to a smoothie when you’re trying to be healthy is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

    • Elizabeth

      Agave syrup is a low-GI sweetener, far better than sugar or artificial sweeteners, and just fine in moderation. If you’re going to criticize, know what you’re talking about.

  • Tracy S

    I think that this is a great recipe I don’t understand why people feel the need to make nasty comments I sometimes sweeten my sons drinks with agave and he has GI issues and his GI doc said that Agave is ok for kids.

  • Kevin

    Thanks for this. I’ll have to try this. Oh and Samantha would prefer if you used High Fructose Corn Syrup to sweeten it up because that is so much more healthier than Agave syrup.

  • Cheng

    Recipe sounds awesome, actually agave nectar is just like high fructose corn syrup, its just as bad. Honey and or real sugar is better then Agave.

    • Elizabeth

      Completely untrue.

      • Amanda

        No its not untrue, read the article and gain the facts. The short answer to that reader’s question is simple: agave nectar is not a “natural sweetener.” Plus, it has more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup. Now, let’s get into the details.

        http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    • Cynthia

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agave_syrup <– Most accurate place to look. No, it's NOT like honey. Yes, it's sweeter, and only needs to be consumed in proportions, but as it states, it's less viscious than honey. So, read up on your facts EVERYONE please.

      And by the way, she never said she ADDED it to her smoothies for her kids people. She stated that you can add it if necessary because depending on where you get your berries, they may be more tart than sweet!

  • Monica

    Great recipe! I would add only one thing, to lightly steam or saute the spinach with a bit of water (for less than a minute) to release the full benefits of the iron….I do this with kale in my smoothies, and it makes a big difference.

    To your health! :)

    ~Monica

    • http://savorysweetlife.com alice

      Great tip, Monica. Thank you!

  • Amanda

    I regularly make fruit smoothies with spinach but I NEVER sweeten it with any sweetener. Its really not needed, the fruit is plenty sweet and my kids love them without added sweeteners. If I add juice (I usually dont and use purified water instead) it has to be all natural for the best health benefit.

  • Lucy

    I do this! I do this! But I’ve never had to add agave or any sort of sweetener. You can do so many variations of this … I have also made it with banana, mango and peach and will be trying avocado next time. Don’t forget to sneak in the flax! Great tip on steaming the spinach first … will make sure to do that going forward. :)

  • Kath

    Funny all the discussion about the sweetners-I too make smoothies like this all the time . I’ve at times added so much steamed spinach that it turns an unappetizing brown color but I’ve found the solution .–
    Always add a few slices of steamed beets to everythig else!

  • Samantha

    Kevin – no, you’re totally missing the point. You shouldn’t add any more sugar to an already sweet treat. Smoothies are delicious without sugar be it brown, agave, or HFCS. The point of the author’s post was that she felt guilty about what she was feeding her kids, yet she added something bad to this recipe. My point was to just keep it fresh with the fruit/veggies. It’s a delicious smoothie without the agave!! :)

    • Debra

      It’s wonderful to eat healthy and stay current on facts and trends. After all, we know-studies evolve and new data emerges. Who knows who will be “healthier” tomorrow? Remember, it’s also wonderful to get your kids to eat spinach..even if the only way to do that is to add a tiny little bit of something not quite so healthy. Bravo to Elizabeth. Hope the rest of you are setting your kids up for healthy choices, moderation, etc.Good luck if your forcing elimination of all foods tempting!

  • Joan

    Looks similar to the recipe at http://www.SpinachSmoothieRecipe.com

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for the awesome smoothie recipe. I have 4 children, so we are naturally busy also, and I love that I can give them something so nutritious that they will eat/drink without complaining! I never write, but I had to after reading the comments from these people. It is a sad world when insecure people have to judge and criticize a mom for doing something HEALTHY for her children – you would have thought you said “give them a Snickers bars and a Coke” – I mean seriously!!

  • aaron

    I never would have imagined that people would get so worked up over agave syrup. I enjoyed your arguments very much, thanks for reminding me that soccer moms have lots of time to focus on the trivial.

    • naynay

      when u taste that sip you tell its very healthy of the spinch

  • Mary

    Mary
    Does anybody know how many calories this smoothie has?

    • Rabbit

      Around 270 calories (without agave)

  • Lorrie Cooper

    For smoothies that require a little more sweetness, add fresh California Dates! They are nature’s nature candy.

  • Jeannette Rivera

    Happy New Year! You gave me an awesome drink n my kid has no idea what is in it…perfect as is. My Mom always said “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all!
    Jeannette

  • Alli Heeres

    This is absolutly delicious! I’m a college student looking to learn how to eat healthier, especially as I’m about to be married! This was really easy to make and is seriously so so so good!

    I used clove honey as my sweetener because that’s what I had on hand, and it turned out awesome. I’m going to be making this all the time!