Antioxidant, Immune-Boosting, Super Food Smoothie for Toddlers (and Adults!)

As a mom who swears by her child’s probiotics, I am going to blame my son’s most recent illness on the fact that we went a few days while on vacation without giving said probiotics to said child.  Of course, it could be coincidental, but as I watched my niece, then my sister, my husband, then my nephew all develop the same awful, wet cough and snotty noses, I was sure my son’s built up immune system was crushing that virus and that we were totally missing the bullet… that is, until that same bullet hit him three weeks later after arriving home from holiday, and I needed something to put blame to.  Clearly, the infected populous that we typically surround ourselves with is an obvious answer (not to mention disgusting germs on a crowded airplane), but I can’t go without blaming myself for being lazy whilst vacationing in Hawaii.

Anyway, my otherwise super healthy child DID in fact develop that same yucky cough, mucous-filled nose and throat, and even a couple low-grade fevers of the same sort that our family had displayed just weeks prior, and although we immediately began adding his daily probiotic to his juice or yogurt each day upon returning home, I was looking for other ways to help boost his immune system quickly to fight the virus in a healthy way – hoping it wouldn’t linger around quite as long as we had seen in others who had been affected by it (my husband, for example, was sick for almost an entire month).
 
The perfect remedy?
 
A super delicious, antioxidant-rich, smoothie that even a one-year-old would drink (quite happily, too, I might add).
 
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As a preface to all the amazing goodness that goes into this smoothie, I’ll admit that although I did originally start by giving this to Kaden in smoothie form, as the summer days continued to creep in on us down here in sweaty ol’ Florida, the cool, frozen popsicle version just seemed like a more enjoyable vessel to enjoy this sweet treat, not to mention way more fun for the kiddos. Moral?  Keep this option in your back pocket to switch this yummy treat up on a hot day, or a cold day, or a rainy day, or a day you make it from the bed to the kitchen.  Seriously, though, do either – both are equally delicious.
 
This recipe is chock full of antioxidants from the many different types of berries we include in this yummy smoothie. The power of the acai berry super fruit has been shown to help fight harmful organisms – such as yucky cold bugs.  Acai berries have one of the world’s highest Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC), making it one of the greatest neutralizers of free radicals in the body.  This is largely contributed by the high concentration of antioxidants that acai berries contain, which also contributes to higher energy and strength in an individual.  These tiny little berries have more than double the amount of antioxidants than blueberries, and nearly ten times than that of grapes.  Pretty awesome little guys (as a bonus for us adults, they kind of have a wine and chocolate taste – mmm).
For obvious reasons, I use an entire package of frozen acai berry mix in this recipe, and throw in a handful of extra berries for added vitamins and brighter flavor.  This recipe is basically an acai bowl in smoothie [popsicle] form, but, hey, whatever works, right?
 
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As a base for our smoothie, I opt to use a plain, organic, greek yogurt and organic apple juice.  You can use vanilla yogurt as well – the vanilla will add a bit more sweetness to the mix.
 
The apple juice helps blend all these delicious ingredients together, while the yogurt not only acts as a binding agent to secure your frozen mold (if you’re going the popsicle route that is), but also as a happy kick to your gut.  The probiotics in yogurt help fight off any bad germs in your GI tract from entering your bloodstream – thus, keeping you from getting sick.  If your little one has a lactose allergy, coconut yogurt would be pretty delicious as a substitute for the milk-based yogurt we call for in the recipe.
 
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The secret (and I mostly mean that it’s a secret kept from your children) ingredient is any leafy green.  Kale, spinach or Swiss chard are amazing immune-boosting foods rich in Vitamin C and folate.  Plus, it’s a pretty sneaky way to get your little ones to eat their vegetables – and like it!  I’ve been using an organic spring mix lately since we usually use the blend for salads at dinner, but beware – these typically contain arugula – a peppery leaf that tends to overwhelm the taste palate of the smoothie.  I’ll admit, though, my son enjoys it.  If you’re not into all that noise – stick with baby spinach: it has amazing amounts of iron to keep your child’s hemoglobin levels stable, and it’s nearly impossible to detect in the smoothie.
 
This recipe is not only great for its healthy ingredients while warding off unwanted sickness, the coolness of a chilled smoothie or popsicle really helped ease Kaden’s sore throat as well.  Hm, I see your bird and raise you two stones, thank you very much.
 
Lastly, I do add a squeeze of honey into this mixture to give it just a bit more sweetness, but it also serves as a good cold-fighting property, as well as helping to rid your little one of any common allergies (especially if you buy local honey like we do).  If your babe is under the age of 1, however, skip the honey and use a tablespoon of agave nectar instead, or skip this step all together – with all those berries in the mix, sweetness will not be missed, I promise.
 
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Once you have pureed all your ingredients together, serve in a kid-friendly cup and let your little one drink up!  Or, if you’re looking to get a little more fancy, simply pour the mixture into your favorite silicone popsicle molds (baby food containers like Beaba’s storage trays work amazing for this; our favorites just so happen to be these amazing monster molds by Tovolo), pop in a popsicle stick into each one, and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
 
Once those are completely set and frozen, carefully remove the popsicle from its mold, and enjoy!
 
Warning: Acai berry does stain occasionally, so be weary when these suckers start to melt!  I recommend diapered babies in the backyard – free of expensive clothing šŸ˜‰ Something like this will do:
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ENJOY! šŸ™‚
 
Antioxidant-Rich, Berry Immune-Boosting Smoothie
An antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting fruit smoothie to help your little ones ward off illness, or simply enjoy on a hot day!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package Sambazon frozen pure unsweetened Acai superfruit pack
  2. 1 cup organic frozen mixed berries
  3. 1 cup (plus or minus depending) organic orange or apple juice
  4. 1/2 cup organic plain (or vanilla) greek yogurt
  5. 1/2 cup organic leafy green (i.e., baby spinach, kale, spring mix, etc.)
  6. 1 tablespoon local honey or agave nectar* (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until well combined, adding juice as much as necessary at a time until desired consistency.
If making into frozen popsicles
  1. Pour your blended mixture into silicone popsicle molds, insert popsicle sticks, and place in freezer for at least 3 hours.
  2. Carefully remove your popsicle from your mold - ensuring the mixture is completely frozen - and enjoy!
Notes
  1. NEVER give a toddler honey if they are under the age of one; use agave nectar as a substitute.
  2. You can substitute milk-based yogurt for coconut yogurt if a dairy allergy is of concern.
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