That's kind of how I felt about people saying you could put raw spinach in smoothies. I mean, seriously. Spinach in a smoothie? That's just wrong. But they were like No, it's great. You can't even taste it! And if you use blueberries instead of strawberries, you can't tell there's spinach in it at all!
Despite the fact that we almost always have raw spinach and smoothie fixings on hand, I never bothered to try mixing the two together. Until now.
It was a particularly bad eating day for Liam (they're all pretty bad - the kid would happily starve to death if we let him) so I was mixing up a little afternoon power shake to keep him going. At first I pushed the spinach out of the way so I could grab the yogurt but then something stopped me. PUT THE SPINACH IN THE SMOOTHIE. I hesitated for a moment - would the world come to a screeching halt if Liam ate a leafy green? - then grabbed a big handful and threw it in the blender (along with plain yogurt, frozen mixed berries, a banana, orange juice and some vanilla whey protein powder).
Once it was all blended up, I really couldn't tell the difference. And, it actually tasted good. Exactly the same as usual! I gave it to Liam with a straw and tried not to giggle as he drank the entire thing (it took all afternoon, of course, but that's perfectly normal). If he didn't like it or could tell that something was different, he would have refused to drink it at all. But he liked it! (Liked it, forced it down, whatever - there's a lot of gray area when it comes to Liam's eating habits).
Buoyed by my spinach success, I swapped out his regular pancakes (whatever healthy whole wheat mix I happen to grab at the grocery) with sweet potato pancakes. And guess what? My son is now eating two vegetables! Woo hoo!!
Here's a great recipe I got from one of the moms in our Spanish class:
2 cups buttermilk
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
Puree sweet potatoes and eggs. In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and honey. Incorporate the puree. Add the flour last. Use canola oil for frying pan or griddle. The remaining pancakes can be frozen and defrosted in microwave or toaster. (This recipe is very forgiving. I added ground flax seed and used plain milk instead of buttermilk and the pancakes still turned out great.)
I also made a batch of pancakes with the store bought mix and just added a cup of sweet potato puree, some apple sauce and ground flax seed. Both kinds passed the Liam test (and we liked them too). You don't even have to feel bad about letting your kid go nuts with the syrup - 100% pure maple syrup is chock full of magnesium and zinc, good for your immune system, and a great source of antioxidants. Pretty sweet, huh?