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DIY Whole Food Pediasure Alternative

With our first adoption, both of our kids came home very malnourished, as many children from orphanages do.  When I thought of malnourishment, I immediately thought of Pediasure which is a high caloric drink that is palatable for children because of it’s extreme sweetness.  I bought it in bulk and gave it to the kids right away, especially Elijah.

But, as we tried to transition to regular, solid, healthy food, we had our work cut out for us.  He refused most food in favor of Pediasure because of the intense sticky sweetness.  I soon regretted giving it to him, and wish I had given him a more whole-food, less addictively sweet version that made the transition to real food easier.  Food issues are HEAVY and I don’t think giving him the Pediasure was worth it for those extra calories we could have easily gotten elsewhere.  Even our Pediatrician told us she was not a fan of the stuff and gave us some suggestions that are in this smoothie. (Only after he was hooked, though)

So, this time around, we made our own version that had the calorie benefits, but is much more nourishing.   All whole, real foods, no added sugar, nutrient dense that I can make it in big batches to give to all my kiddos, not just my newly adopted one, and that they all cheer for it.  I even gave some to my husband for his burst of greens, electrolytes, potassium, etc etc.  He’s a big fan.

This recipe will work as a Pediasure alternative for picky eaters, as a breakfast, lunch or dinner side to enhance nutrient consumption for children and adults alike, and is extremely healthy for children from orphanages who have a hard time chewing.   It will also slowly adjust taste buds to be ready to eat these blended foods whole later on–which is really one of the most important aspects, as you want to set your children up for future success.

You can make it vanilla flavor, or Peanut Butter Chocolate Flavor.  Our first version is Chocolate-Peanut Butter Smoothies, such a treat.  While in Ethiopia, Poppy was picky, but LOVED our Chocolate Peanut Butter Think Thin bars which are high in protein and have no sugar, so this shake is modeled after those flavors with lots of megawatt goodness hidden inside:

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Ingredients // the list is purposely loose in amounts, I actually rarely measure when I make them in the morning, but I wanted to give a rough estimate for those just starting out.  Each ingredient can be added more of or less, depending on your pantry and desire.  There are times we have run out of one or two, and it still tastes wonderful and is slurped down with glee.

Enjoy!  Not only will this be delicious but it will nourish little bodies and minds.

  • 1 or 2 bananas, plain or frozen.  (We cut ours up and freeze them if they start to turn)
  • 2 -3 cups of Coconut Water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 or 1 whole avocado
  • 1 or 2 table spoons of Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup of Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of frozen berries, (Such a blueberries or mulberries.  If you have a picky eater who would love a more purple color, pick mulberries as they have a very strong color when blended)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of Hemp Seeds
  • 1 or 2 Dates (Source of natural sweetness)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 to 3 spoonfuls of Almond Butter
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • Splash of your preferred type of milk
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Handful or two or three of fresh or frozen greens
  • (Optional) One fresh egg
  • (Optional) Kid friendly Probiotics
  • (Optional) Vanilla Extract


Ingredients // The Why

  • Bananas, makes for a nice constancy  //  Vitamin b6, manganese, potassium, vitamin c


  • Coconut Water // Hydrating, full of potassium, copper and magnesium and electrolytes.  It is also filled with natural sugars, making it extra tasty for little ones without being overboard.


  • Greek Yogurt // Makes the smoothies thick and creamy.  Packed with protein, zinc, B6 and calcium.


  • Frozen Berries // Certain berries make it more purple if you are trying to conceal the green, like mulberries. We use frozen blueberries to give it a thicker, colder body.  It is also filled with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin k and flavonoids.


  • Coconut Oil // A very good fat to consume, filled with a short 3-chain fatty acids (Meaning your body takes only 3 steps to break it down before it can use it as energy as opposed to the 27 chain in something like Olive Oil)  It helps our bodies ward off illness and bacteria, high in calories.  Populations who eat a lot of coconut are some of the healthier in the world.


  • Fresh Egg // We crack a fresh egg into the blender.  I don’t recommend doing this unless you have your own fresh eggs to work with, don’t use store bought, even organic store bought.  If you do have access to fresh eggs there are many benefits to adding them to a smoothie.
  • Walnuts //  Heart health, brain health.  They are an excellent source of important omega-3 essential fatty acids like linoleic acid (ALA) and arachidonic acids, decreases ‘bad’ cholesterol, increases ‘good’.


  • Avocado  // More good fats, eating them can help you absorb nutrients from plants more effectively.


  • Chia Seeds // Fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants


  • Hemp Seeds //  “Perfect Protein” containing all 20 amino acids, but also each of the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.


  • GREENS! // One of the most important things for any of us to be consuming throughout the day, but putting them in smoothies is one of the easiest.  It’s important to ‘rotate’ your greens, meaning, not just add the same kind every day, but mix it up.  I bought some kale plants over a year ago, and as they grow taller, we can still harvest leaves from them daily.  We also will use spinach, chard and purple cabbage, etc.   The more the better in our smoothies.

Highlighted Flavors:  Almond Butter, Raw Cocoa, Dates, Vanilla Extract.

Poppy loved them each time we made them.  She would start to look when we pulled out the blender and would dance and cheer!  As time went on, we started altering them a bit, upping the greens, decreaing dates and almond butter, etc.  I made one today alongside lunch and all the kids love it!


Cheers to your health!


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Try it out and let us know what you think!  Feel free to share with any moms of picky eaters (Or husbands 😉 or adoptive parents.

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This recipe has helped us to much, and Poppy has since been able to incorporate many healthy solid foods including many vegetables to her diet which is awesome!  (Instead of foaming at the mouth for more pediasure like our other little lovie–not mentioning names.  But is was Elijah)  He’s healthy now, but oy vey that was a challenge.  Learn from our mistakes, help your kids thrive from the get go at home.


Pin For Later—->  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/181762534938333864/

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sarah B September 10, 2015, 8:33 pm

    Do you recommend an alternative to the hemp seeds that still contains those essential amino acids? There is a hemp allergy in our house. Thank you!

    • tinyteam September 14, 2015, 3:07 pm

      Oh man, I wish I did. But even if you have to exclude them, this will still provide so much for what they will need.


  • Crystal September 11, 2015, 6:18 am

    I’ll be setting this recipe aside for Abigail!

    • tinyteam September 14, 2015, 3:07 pm


  • K D September 11, 2015, 11:31 am

    I just pinned this. I find it is so easy to hide a lot of nutritious things in a smoothie (chia seeds, ground flax seed, hemp powder, greens, pureed pumpkin, etc) as long as there is ample fruit. Sometime I also add spices and extracts.

    I’m glad things are going so well with Poppy, I love seeing how content she looks (she beams from the inside, truly beautiful).

    • tinyteam September 14, 2015, 3:07 pm

      She sure does, such a GIFT! Smiles with her whole face 🙂

  • Angeline September 11, 2015, 5:46 pm

    Thank you for this! Our son has been home 1 month but is so tiny and a picky eater/drinker. He is still on mostly pureed foods so this is great! I made this tonight with:
    2 bananas
    2 cups of Coconut Water
    1 cup of Greek Yogurt
    1 whole avocado
    2 table spoons of Chia Seeds
    1/4 cup of Walnuts
    1/2 cup of frozen blue berries
    1 tablespoon of Hemp Seeds
    2 Prunes
    2 tablespoons Cacao Powder
    2 spoonfuls of Almond Butter
    1/4 cup of coconut oil
    Spinach and Pure Vanilla Extract

    No milk for my son, to keep it a thicker puree to spoon feed. Guess what? He ate it! I thought it was a bit on the bitter side, but he ate an entire bowl of it! I gave some to my daughters with milk as well. The older one drank it all without issues and my youngest daughter drank all of hers but didn’t seem to fond of it. Overall, I’d call it a win!

    I will be freezing some to use next week (this made a lot), we’ll see how it holds!

    • tinyteam September 14, 2015, 3:08 pm

      WAHOO!! I’m so happy to hear it! Congrats mama on putting such good stuff in your kid’s bellies 🙂

  • Rachel Edwards December 12, 2015, 7:30 am

    Could this be made ahead and frozen?

    • tinyteam February 23, 2016, 4:57 pm

      Good question, I’ve never tried it but it’s worth a shot!

  • Gus February 23, 2016, 9:38 am

    Do you have an alternative for raw cacao powder? Since its’ dark brown he doesn’t like the color since he is used to light colored milk. Would love to find something as nutritious as the raw cacao powder but in a vanilla color. Thank you

    • tinyteam February 23, 2016, 4:59 pm

      Great question! Anything is replaceable. You can omit the cacao and nut butter and replace with deep purple berries such as mulberries or black berries and you’ll have a lovely purple drink!

  • Ashley May 17, 2016, 8:26 am

    If I were to replace the frozen fruit with organic juice (just bc we have that but not the fruit right now hehe), would I need to cut back on other liquids or bulk up some thickeners do you think?

    • tinyteam July 17, 2017, 5:35 pm

      Of course, use what you have on hand, and I would opt out of other thickeners. Frozen fruit has the benefit of fiber, which is nice, but always use what ya got! xoxo

  • Jess Lavelle August 12, 2016, 9:10 pm

    Thank you so much for being a wonderful person! And to post this recipe.. Lol. My 15 month old is very picky and I really don’t want him to miss out anything he’s a lean boy, I’m very small framed but I still worry about his weight so I’ll be trying this compared to Pediasure. Thank you!!

    • tinyteam July 17, 2017, 5:33 pm

      You’re welcome! xoxo

  • Stacey April 26, 2017, 11:36 am

    Is there an alternative to the Greek yogurt. My daughter is on goat’s milk and that is hard to come by for yogurt.

    • tinyteam September 4, 2017, 8:57 pm

      Yes definitely, you can just keep it out, or switch it for some cucumber or mango or something. We actually recently went off dairy as well and are doing the same

      • DivaHick October 7, 2017, 5:48 pm

        There’s goat milk yogurt out now. I would also think that coconut milk would work.

        Do you think these would work?

  • Ashley Gross September 4, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I apologize if I’m asking for information that’s already been mentioned, but approximately how much does this recipe yield? I’ve been searching for an alternative for my exclusively Pediasure fed 2 year old (25 weeker preemie). Every other resource I’ve found has been for tubie kiddos, but my guy takes his Pediasure orally so their blends just would not work for someone who has been drinking something super sweet for 7 months! This recipe looks like something he might accept since it has some flavors I know he likes. Thank you!

    • tinyteam September 4, 2017, 8:59 pm

      Hey girl, I’m not 100% sure. One thing is if you make too much can can portion is out and freeze it for later.
      Good job taking such good care of your boy, take care of you too, I know it can be overwhelming caring for such important, sacred needs <3

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