Kids Cook for Themselves: A Universal Smoothie Recipe

by | May 27, 2015 | Kids Cook for Themselves, Recipes, Sponsored | 28 comments

I am, in general, a big advocate of kids doing stuff for themselves. It’s like they say, give a kid a fish . . . no, wait, that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Maybe don’t do that.

Anyway. My desire to have my big kids be able to cook, is often at war with my desire to NOT have it take three times as long for me to cook dinner. And, let’s face it, letting kids help cook makes it take MUCH longer. But I’ve found it IS worth it in the long run, because eventually they can do it on their own and I don’t have to suffer watching them do it not exactly how I would do it.

We started small, for my benefit as much as for theirs, and now all of my kids older than seven are capable of warming up leftovers, or cooking simple things like scrambled eggs, all by themselves.

And my three oldest are able to follow recipes and make meals from scratch. And they even like it! With a new baby coming in a couple of months, the big kids are planning to do quite a bit of the cooking for our family this summer. I’ve been helping them compile the recipes that they’ve made successfully, and I figured I’d share a few of them with you, every once in a while.

First up . . .

I’m a big fan of smoothies because they combine healthy, tasty, and NOT THROWING AWAY FOOD into one easy recipe that’s appropriate for any time of day.

Any time our fresh fruit starts to get past its prime, I peel it, cut it into chunks, throw it into a ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. And the kids use it to make smoothies. (When necessary, I buy some already frozen.)

It turns out that a very easy, three ingredient recipe works for pretty much any type of smoothie, and that my kids eight and over are all capable of making it completely on their own.

All it takes is any kind of frozen fruit, any kind of juice, and yoghurt (I always use Mountain High whole milk plain in the super giant Costco size, ’cause that’s how we roll).

Betty (11) has graciously agreed to walk us through how to make one. Take it away Betty . . .

Okay, here goes.

Get your ingredients together: some frozen fruit, some juice, and some yoghurt. This time I used a mix of frozen berries, cranberry juice, and plain whole milk yoghurt.

You can make your smoothie in a blender, food processor, or right in a cup if you’ve got a hand blender. Whatever you’re using, fill your container two-thirds full of frozen fruit.

Then, pour in juice until it covers the fruit.

Scoop in yoghurt until the container is almost full, but not completely full, because there needs to be room for it to blend.

Put the top on and hold it tight.

Blend on medium-high (I use “puree”) until it’s all mixed up.

And pour into glasses to serve.

Babies like it.

Mason Jar Straw Top is from an Etsy shop called Blue Ridge Crafts. I put them right in the dishwasher and they’ve lasted us for years.

Brothers like it.

Even FRANKIE likes it.

And I like it too!

Another good one is frozen bananas (I don’t even like bananas, but you can’t really taste them) and mango, leftover fresh squeezed orange juice from our Sunday breakfast, and yoghurt.

It’s even better with cute straws.

Lulu approves. 

It’s really easy. All kids should give it a try!

Me again . . . Thanks to Betty for helping out with this post, and to Mountain High Yoghurt for sponsoring it. You can go here to sign up for a dollar off coupon, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In case you want to pin it, you can use the link at the bottom of the post, and I made this image to go with it . . . 

Stay tuned for over the next few weeks for more real recipes kids can cook themselves! And if you’ve got any smoothie combinations you love, please let me know in the comments.


  1. Mandi

    We always put spinach in our smoothies. I don't think you can taste it and it adds a little extra vitamin and mineral goodness. (Our diet constantly lacks the green, leafy vegetables so it's my attempt to make up for that.) But…it doesn't look as pretty. And maybe some people don't like the texture? We also use coconut milk a lot for smoothies.

    So, seven is the magic age for being able to start cooking? I was hoping it was, like, four. But I knew that was just wishful thinking and if YOU can't get your four-year-olds to cook, I suppose no one can.

    • Kendra

      Well, my four year olds can get themselves cereal and milk, which is SOMETHING. But, yeah, Anita doesn't really do any cooking past that.

    • Rosie

      You can stick a LOT of spinach in a smoothie as long as you have the blueberries to camouflage the color – it's pretty awesome, since you can't taste it at all but you're getting tons of vitamins! And yes, I have to resort to tricks like this for MYSELF, not for my children…

      As for cooking, my (then) 4yo could reliably microwave oatmeal, but he still always made a huge mess. He's remarkably competent in the kitchen, but I don't think I'll trust him at the stove for another year or so… Oh, and he can cut up apples and serve everybody snack, so that's something?

    • Anonymous

      I second Rosie. I always make smoothies with a giant handful of spinach, 1 cup of frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry mix from Target usually), 1 cup of almond milk and a banana. IMO the banana is necessary to make it creamy and smooth.

      I used to do this to hide veggies into my son's diet- but now he even knows there is spinach in there and will eat it because you can't see it or taste it.

    • Cat

      There's a recipe for a yogurt cake in Brining Up Bebe that the author says 4-year-olds can do. I think I'm going to try it soon around 3.5!

      We also put spinach in our smoothies, but if it's too green, my kid won't touch it. Strawberries and blueberries are a must with that. I often just have pineapple and mango and lighter fruit and the color is not kid-friendly.

    • Jen

      Ha, Mandi, I was thinking the same thing – I thought 4 years old was the magic age for cooking! Darn. My almost 3-year old is seriously allllll about helping in the kitchen and already brings me everything I need for smoothies and scrambled eggs (without me asking). Surely it will be less than 4 years before he can fend by himself?!

  2. Elizabeth

    I put kale and raw eggs in mine, for the protein. Also flax seed, coconut water if I have it, and an herb blend I get from The Bulk Herb Store (which has a variety of healthy herb blends for smoothies). I don't let the children have smoothie with my herbs in it, but they love all the other stuff…except, my three-year-old doesn't like "green smoothie"! I've found that mixed berry will cover up the green from the kale.

    Where did you get the mason lids with the straw holes?

    • Kendra

      I got the lids from an etsy shop: Blue Ridge Crafts. I'll put a link in the text above.

  3. Elisa | blissfulE

    Seeing Betty serving up smoothies for a crowd makes me so happy! And clearly her smoothies make the crowd happy, too.

    I don't like bananas, either, but frozen and pureed they form an integral part of every smoothie we make. In fact, you can just add cocoa or frozen berries and make a healthy "ice cream" if you don't add liquid. We usually add cream or yogurt to make a smoothie.

  4. Colleen

    Betty's such a cutie! Great tips for easy smoothies, but I can't get past the "h" in your yogurt 🙂

    • Kendra

      THAT was part of the deal with Mountain High. They feel strongly about the "h." :0)

  5. Cathy Kraemer

    We also encouraged our children to learn to cook from an early age (the youngest graduates high school this Saturday). When they each went off to college, I didn't have to worry about them starving, PLUS they learned that knowing how to cook made them desirable friends in college! They couldn't believe that some people left home not knowing how to cook! My oldest regularly made meals at the CSC for her friends.

  6. Alicia Copley

    My sister and I learned to make smoothies just like this when we were kids, and they are always fantastic! We learned to make them with frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk. The juice sounds good, too. If you do try it with milk, we found that either using vanilla yogurt or adding a little honey helped the recipe since milk doesn't have the same sweetness level as juice.

  7. Athena Carson

    "Babies like it. Brothers like it. Even Frankie likes it."


    Anyway, BIG fan of kids doing things themselves. My mom was never that way – she was just on autopilot and did everything herself, so when I grew up I didn't know how to do ANYTHING. For my family, it's really awesome having kids just say, "I'll make dinner!" if we're tired, or take care of their baby brother (well, now he's a toddler), and be responsible for doing their own laundry and cleaning their own space.

  8. Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick

    We always get the super giant mountain high too. And there's only three (four, technically, but in utero) of us…

    Babies love smoothies! But not always the blender…

    • Kendra

      That is true. I have a pretty funny photo of Lulu looking very concerned about the blender that I didn't include.

  9. Schafergal

    Love this! I look forward to having a seven year old. One more year. One more year.

    Where did you get those fabulous mason jar lids with straws? Those would be a huge hit around here.

    • Kendra

      I got them from an Etsy shop. I added the link below one of the photos.

  10. Virginia

    My second child dislikes all berries. All of them. Her go-to smoothie is banana and peanut butter with vanilla yogurt and milk. Sometimes a splash of honey. It's delicious! Ooh, and on rare occasions, I add cocoa powder, too. 🙂

  11. Rose G.

    When and how do you start introducing kids to cooking? Do you wait until a certain age? My 14-month-old has all sorts of pretend kitchen toys she plays with while I make dinner every night (plus she loves to pull all my pots, pans, and tupperware out of the cabinets at least once a day.) Anything else I can be doing in the next few years to get her in the habit of "helping" me in the kitchen, before she can start doing the real thing? Would you consider writing one of your future "Kids Cook For Themselves" posts geared toward those of us with only little ones?

    • Kendra

      Well . . . my little kids MOSTLY get banished from the kitchen for being pests. Frankie does anyway. 😛 But if he can behave, the jobs the littlest ones get are helping pound meat (that's a big favorite), closely supervised mixing (because they tend to get over enthusiastic and sloshy), throwing things away or into the "scraps for the chickens" crock, and wiping up spills.

  12. Cat

    Well, I guess I can thank Betty for teaching me the proper proportions for smoothie-making! I never pay attention to the order I put stuff in, then try to eyeball it and always get it wrong. Now I know! Order is important!

  13. Joann Woolley

    I love your universal smoothie recipe – going to have to remember that so I can put it to good use! My daughter also helped me in the kitchen this week with a simple yoghurt parfait – Mmmmm – I have to go back to the store to buy more ingredients to make it again!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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