Dark green vegetables (DGVs; e.g., spinach) are a nutrient rich source of essential vitamins and minerals; yet, children's intakes of DGVs fall well below dietary recommendations and creative solutions are needed. This study describes preschoolers (3-5 y) willingness to taste, liking, and intake of fruit-based smoothies containing DGVs (i.e., spinach, collards, kale), commonly referred to as "green smoothies," and explores individual differences in children's eating responses. Using a between-subjects design, preschoolers were randomized to either a FRUIT ONLY smoothie condition (n = 36) or FRUIT+DGV smoothie condition (n = 32). Children's acceptance and intake were collected in one tasting session and one ad libitum snack session, respectively. Parents reported on child food pickiness, food responsiveness, and approach, and children's intake of fruits and DGVs. Children self-reported on previous experience with the study fruits and DGVs. The initial tasting session revealed that the majority of children (84.3%) in the FRUIT+DGV condition willingly tasted all five green smoothies and rated the green smoothies as moderately liked (2.3 ± 0.1). Children in the FRUIT+DGV condition consumed 225.7 ± 31.4 g (9.0 ± 1.3 oz; 1.1 ± 0.2 cups; 91.9 ± 12.9 kcals) of their most preferred green smoothie, providing 18.3 ± 3.7 g (or 0.7 ± 0.1 cups) of DGVs. Children's willingness to try, liking, and intake did not differ by smoothie condition. Individual differences in children's intake are reported. In conclusion, children were willing to try fruit smoothies supplemented with DGVs. Children rated the green smoothies as moderately-liked and children's intake during snack met 31% of their weekly USDA recommendations for DGVs. Adding DGVs to fruit-based smoothies may compliment other effective feeding strategies for increasing children's vegetable consumption.
Keywords: Children; Dark green vegetables; Fruit smoothies; Green smoothies; Liking.
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