Tag Archives: vegetable

All About Smoothies

Smoothies are all the rage today. They’re perfect for our busy lives since you can blend them up quickly and drink it on the go. Smoothies also are a kid-friendly way to eat more fruits (and even veggies).  And most smoothies use dairy products as the liquid ingredient, making them a good source of calcium, protein and Vitamin D. In short, smoothies seem like a dessert while packing in tons of nutrition, too. How many other sweet treats do that?

Mix and Match Smoothie Recipe

The different flavor combinations are endless when making smoothies. With these basic ingredient parts, you can customize to find you and your children’s favorites.

Basic Smoothie Recipe

Follow this basic recipe to make the perfect smoothie for your tastes.

Follow this basic recipe to make the perfect smoothie for your tastes.


½ cup per serving

Any type of fruit works well. Frozen fruit is a great option since it makes your smoothie extra cold and frosty. If you have over-ripe bananas, peel and freeze them for smoothies.

(One word of caution- Some fruits, kiwi and fresh pineapple in particular, can curdle the milk in your smoothie if given enough time. If you drink those smoothies right away, there should be no issue, though. Just don’t make kiwi or pineapple flavored smoothies ahead of time and stick it in the fridge for later.)


½ cup per serving

Veggie smoothies are really popular and can be a good way to get pickier eaters to eat their veggies. Green smoothies use leafy greens like kale or spinach to pack in tons of nutrition into a surprisingly tasty beverage. Make sure you have a good blender, or tougher greens like kale won’t blend as smoothly as you need them too. Other veggies, like carrots, beets or cucumbers, can be used in smoothies, too.


1 cup per serving

Get your calcium (and many other vitamins and minerals) by using low-fat milk or yogurt as your smoothie base. Milk alternatives, like soy or almond milk, work well too if you prefer. Diary gives your smoothie a creamy texture and the protein will make it more filling.


(varies, depending on ingredient)

Here is your opportunity to boost the taste of your smoothie. A tablespoon of peanut butter or a teaspoon of cinnamon will give your smoothie an extra dose of flavor and nutrition. Be creative and find combinations you like. If you have a good one, share it in the comments!


Need some inspiration? Try some of FNP’s smoothie recipes and start adding in some new ingredients of your own.

Do you make smoothies in your house? What’s your favorite flavor combinations? Are there any adventurous veggie smoothie drinkers out there?



Seasonal Produce- The Best Value for Your Money and Health

If you follow the Family Nutrition Program on Facebook or Twitter, you have no doubt heard that buying produce in season can save you money. Produce that is in season is also more flavorful and higher in nutrients.

Why is Seasonal Produce Best?

Produce is in season when it is grown and harvested at the time of year it grows best. Because it is grown at the perfect time, the plants produce the highest quality and quantity of fruit or veggies.


High quality, seasonal produce has the best flavor and most nutrients compared to fruits or veggies that are grown out of season. Out of season produce is usually grown far away, like California or even China. So that it doesn’t spoil before travelling the long distance to your local grocery store, they are usually picked before they are ripe, which means they are less flavorful. For me, there is no comparison between the juicy flavor of a tomato out of the garden and a bland  tomato from the store in the dead of winter.


Since produce begins to lose nutrients as soon as it is picked, the nutrients it contains are draining away each day it travels to get to you. For this reason, many people find local produce tastes better. Keep this in mind when you are trying to get kids to taste new fruits or veggies. (FYI- Plain, no salt or sugar added frozen or canned fruits and veggies keep their nutrients longer than fresh produce that is shipped long distances. More info here.)


Plants produce more fruit or veggies when grown in season. Since there is a larger supply in season, the price goes down. Food eaten out of season may have been grown in a greenhouse (which costs more to heat and water) or traveled long distances (which costs more to ship), adding to the price you pay for fresh berries in March.

Where can I find seasonal produce?

You can find produce in season in your grocery store. But you can get even better taste and a wider variety of fruits and veggies at your local farmers market. Many times, the produce at the market was picked the day before after fully ripening on the vine. You can’t beat that for fresh! The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a very useful chart to let you know what fruit or veggies are in season in Virginia.


So the next time you sit down to plan your family’s weekly menu, take out the chart, along with the sales papers, and add more fresh, flavorful and nutritious produce to your meals. What are your favorite meals using fresh summer fruits or vegetables?

Stay tuned for our next post on a cheap, kid-friendly source of fresh, seasonal produce.