Smoothies for Picky Eaters

Smoothies for Picky Eaters

Looking for a fun, nutritious snack for your child? Try our yummy smoothies that pack in a punch of nutrients.

a woman in a black dress is smiling
By Lauren Panoff
Dorian Rhode
Edited by Dorian Rhode

Updated May 16, 2024.

A boy and a girl sitting next to each other drinking smoothies with a tub of Else Nutrition Shake.

Picky eating is among the most common seasons parents of young kids experience. While supporting your child through one of these times requires a multi-faceted approach, incorporating nutrient-dense smoothies into their routine may be helpful. Healthy smoothies for picky eaters can help meet nutrition needs and encourage your child to try new foods.

Why Are Smoothies Good for Kids?

Smoothies are a simple way to pack a lot of nutrients into one cup. They can incorporate fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and even seemingly odd ingredients like tofu, avocado, or white beans for additional neutral-flavored nutrients like protein.

And perhaps most importantly, your child can help you make them! Maybe they could pour ingredients into the blender, turn it on, or help choose what goes into the recipe that day. Including your child in kitchen activities, like smoothie prep, is a great way to help connect them with their food and teach them skills that will serve them throughout their life. 

Being involved in the kitchen making smoothies can also help encourage kids going through picky eating phases to try new foods and eat what they’ve created. When children feel like they have more say in their eating, they’re generally more likely to show interest.

A little girl is drinking a green smoothie.

Can You Have Smoothies Instead of Meals?

Smoothies and shakes are an excellent option for kids and adults alike. Their consistency allows them to be offered to younger kids without concern for choking, and they can take on many flavors and colors, which is fun for kids.

Though tempting during picky eating phases, smoothies, shakes, and nutritional drinks for kids should not be used as a meal replacement when your child refuses their plate. Instead, smoothies and shakes are ideal for between-meal snacks, to complement a balanced meal, or to offer as an after-dinner dessert or bedtime snack to fill little tummies.

One of the most essential nutritional goals for kids is to help them learn to meet their needs through a variety of solid foods, which can include smoothies, but they shouldn’t be the star of the show.

What Is a Good Snack with a Smoothie?

Smoothies might be served on their own as a snack or alongside something else to provide more balance. Need some ideas? Some snack foods you could pair with smoothies include: 

  • Whole-grain crackers with hummus
  • Apple or banana slices with almond butter
  • A slice of avocado toast sprinkled with hemp seeds
  • Pitted dates stuffed with peanut butter
  • Raw veggies with bean dip
  • Dry no-sugar-added cereal
  • Chia seed pudding

Smoothies can also be offered at mealtimes, but if your child is more likely to drink the smoothie than try anything on their plate, it may be best to keep them separate.

» Discover nutrition tips and tricks for all ages

A boy in a hat drinking a smoothie from a straw.

What to Put in a Smoothie to Make It Taste Better

As with all foods, some smoothies can be an acquired taste depending on what you blend into them. This can take practice, and that’s okay.

If your child has some favorite foods that they already love, consider whether you could include these in a smoothie and have them help. 

Making your smoothie taste good is all about learning the personal preferences of your kids. Ask them what they’d like their smoothie to taste like that day, and then have them help gather ingredients. 

For instance, you could make a red or purple smoothie packed with berries, a creamy orange and banana smoothie, a strawberry lime smoothie, a green pineapple smoothie, or even a chocolate shake with peanut butter, dates, and apples. 

The only way to find out what smoothies your child loves is to experiment in the kitchen. You can find recipes together and try them out, and then put your own spin on them. Just be sure to write down the ones your child likes so you can make them more often. You can also use Plant-Powered Kids shake Mix by Else Nutrition for delicious smoothies. It is packed and loaded with essential nutrients, crafted to be free from common allergies.

How Do You Sneak Protein into a Smoothie?

If you’re looking to use smoothies to sneak in ingredients your child has previously refused or never tried; we'd advise against it, as this can promote distrust around food. Instead, include your child in the process of collecting ingredients for the smoothie and actually making the finished product to serve. 

Smoothies may be primarily fruit-based, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide protein, as all plant foods contain some protein. Plus, making protein shakes for picky eaters doesn’t mean you need to use protein powders. 

To boost the protein content of a smoothie, try adding chia, hemp, flax seeds, nut butter, or even a small amount of soft tofu or cannellini beans. These ingredients blend well and, with the exception of peanut butter, won’t change the flavor much.

You can also consider adding a scoop or two of Else Plant-Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers for additional protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Which Vegetables Are Good for Smoothies?

Most of us are used to making fruit smoothies with things like frozen berries, peaches, and bananas. But vegetables can work well, too! In fact, having your child add vegetables to their smoothie may help encourage food acceptance. If they choose leafy greens, it can be fun for them to watch the smoothie turn green in the blender.

Some vegetables that can work well in smoothies include: 

  • Green peas
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Red cabbage

Remember that vegetables can change the flavor of a smoothie, so starting with a small amount can go a long way. Furthermore, pairing these veggies with citrus, berries, pineapple, and green apples can help mask the flavor if it’s not a favorite. 

» Read more about pediatrician's review on nutritional and healthy diet for kids

Two glasses of green smoothies next to a banana and some spinach on a cutting board.

10 Healthy Plant-Based Smoothie Recipes

Below are a few tasty, nutritious smoothie recipes for picky eaters that you and your child can make together. You can make any changes based on your preferences and find out what your child likes.

1. Tropical Green Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Handful of frozen kale or baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • 1 green apple, cored
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple

2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ cup rinsed canned white beans
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2-3 Tablespoons peanut butter

3. Banana-Berry & Oat Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon rolled oats

4. Cherry Almond Butter Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  • ½ cup frozen cherries
  • 1 Tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 pitted date

5. Orange Pumpkin Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar

6. Carrot Orange Ginger Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 oranges, peeled with seeds removed
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons rolled oats
  • Water to thin, as needed

7. Peach Mango Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ block silken tofu

8. Blueberry Basil Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed 

9. Mandarin Creamsicle Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 1 (11-oz) can of mandarin oranges in juice
  • 1 cup fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple or mango
  • ¼ cup silken tofu
  • Optional: 1 Tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar

10. Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie

Blend the following ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cups fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk
  • 2 cups frozen cubed watermelon
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
a jar of yogurt and a strawberry on a table

Healthy Snacks for Your Kid's Healthy Eating Habits

Smoothies are great for kids, whether they are going through a picky eating phase or not. The best part about smoothies is that they can pack in a wide variety of ingredients, each with their own nutrients, like protein.

Plus, you and your child can make smoothies together in the kitchen, encouraging food acceptance without hiding ingredients. While they shouldn’t be used to replace meals, smoothies are a healthy snack idea or can be served alongside balanced meals.

The content and advice provided in this article are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.