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Whip It Up! Creamy, Dreamy, Mall-Worthy Orange Smoothies 

overhead of smoothies and oranges

Fun fact: While you wouldn’t normally think of winter as the ideal season for fresh, tasty produce, it’s actually the very best time to get your hands on sweet, juicy citrus. Maybe it was seeing all those jewel-colored clementines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes piled up at the grocery store (or maybe it was all the shopping out and about during the holidays), but we suddenly got a hankering for that stalwart of food courts, the seemingly simple and yet addictively delicious Orange Julius ®. But rather than bundle up to go fetch a frosty, nostalgia-inducing, creamsicle-ish sorta-smoothie from the mall, we decided to roll up our sweater sleeves and make our own!

Of course, what an Orange Julius is actually made of remains a mystery (supposedly the secret is a combo of powdered egg white, powdered milk, and powdered vanilla), but we think our recipe is a pretty tasty riff on the food court classic. We do include powdered egg white (find it in the bakery aisle or online), as it creates that essential frothiness, but you can certainly skip it. We also use frozen, freshly squeezed orange juice, which has more vitamin A and vitamin C than orange juice concentrate. If you don’t mind pulp (and dig the added fiber!), you could try subbing actual oranges (that have been peeled, diced, and frozen) for the juice. Get the kiddos in on the measuring, pouring, and blending action—then sit and sip a glass of winter sunshine together.

(Fun fact #2: The Orange Julius has been quenching thirst since 1926!)

profile shot of orange smoothies

Creamy, Dreamy, Orange Smoothie

* Recipe loosely adapted from the Kitchn.

Yields: 2 servings

Total time: Approximately 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk (regular, soy, almond, or coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice, frozen in ice cube trays or a loaf pan (or substitute 6 ounces of orange juice concentrate)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered egg white
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (you may also use regular granulated sugar)
  • 1½ cups ice cubes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pour the milk and vanilla into a blender and pulse until combined, about 5 or 6 times.
  2. Add the frozen juice to the blender (if you used a loaf pan, break the frozen juice into chunks first). Blend until combined, about 20 seconds.
  3. Add the powdered egg white, powdered sugar, and ice cubes, and then blend until the sugar is dissolved, the ice is mostly crushed but still a little bit coarse, and the mixture is frothy, about 20 seconds. If it’s too thick, add an additional tablespoon of milk or orange juice and blend again.
  4. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!

If your little one is able, let her try pouring her smoothie herself. In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing the Pre-K set to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods—sure, most kids will enjoy a sweet, creamy, orange smoothie but once they’ve tasted and approved the basic recipe, you could try secretly adding a handful of spinach to the mix.

Yup, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also lots of smiles.

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