Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fit for a ... Teen!

Last Tuesday I had the honor of participating in the Lovejoy High School Health Fair as an exhibitor. Days before the health fair I learned that nearly 2,100 students were expected and I was perplexed as to what food to prepare because not only can teens be picky eaters, but I wanted to do something even someone with NO cooking skills could prepare that was healthy and tasty. And with 2,100 mouths to feed and only my two hands to work with, I was at a loss.

Then in the wee hours of the morning inspirations struck. SMOOTHIES! Who doesn't love smoothies? Anyone can operate a blender. Using frozen fruit means there's no cutting involved. What better way to put a bunch of healthful and nutritious ingredients together? And you won't even need a spoon to eat it.

The response was overwhelming! I couldn't make smoothies fast enough. What was really encouraging was the positive response from the young men, because many of them were leery of smoothies, thinking of it as "girly food." I guess berries, yogurt and fruit juice could sound kind of "girly" but I was also encouraged by the number of young people who may have been skepticle of something new, but stepped up to the plate and tried it anyway. I'd say 9 out of 10 liked the smoothies and I hope those who took the recipe home will try to make them again.

This recipe is great because it's SO simple and you can switch up the types of fruit you use, the flavor of juice and yogurt and continue to create new flavors! I used frozen fruit because it eliminates the need for ice, which can make for more of a slushy than a smoothie, but almost any fruit -- fresh or frozen -- you like will do: bananas*, grapes, berries, mango, peaches. Fruit lends fiber, vitamins and antioxidants to the smoothie.

When you make smoothies, experiment with different juices like mango, strawberry, apple and cranberry. Fruit juice adds enough liquid to get the ingredients incorporated, a touch of sweetness, and in most cases more vitamin C. Also, use whatever flavor of low fat or non fat yogurt you like. I used the ubiquitous vanilla, but any flavor will do. The addition of yogurt gives the smoothies calcium and protein without adding fat. If you like some additional sweetness, try using bananas* and pineapple juice, or drizzle in some honey or a touch of agave nectar, or sprinkle turbinado sugar on tope if you have it on hand.

Lots of adults enjoy smoothies, but they're perfect for teens (See Note to Teens at the end) because smooties are easy to make, and are a great snack or a fast and portable breakfast. They are also a good source of nutrients as part of a 2,000 calorie a day diet. So break out your blender and make some smoothies today!

A special thanks goes out to Carol Hunter and the Lovejoy High School PTSA!

Life Chef's Berry Yogurt Smoothie
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup pineapple juice

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide between two glasses and enjoy!

*Note: Adding bananas and certain other fruits will make for a thicker smoothie and you may need to add more juice to thin it out in order for the ingredients to blend properly.

Note to Teens: Before you sit down to enjoy your smoothie, or grab it and run out of the door, make sure you clean up behind yourself and RINSE OUT THE BLENDER CANISTER (or possibly leave the canister soaking with water in it) because it will make clean up a snap later on and it will keep Mom or Dad from forbidding you to ever use the blender again.