My Easy, Tasty Trick for Getting More Fruits and Vegetables In
"Eat your vegetables" is a common enough reprimand from adults tasked with caring for growing, tiny humans. Truth be told, though, most of those parents, teachers, and guardians aren't getting enough fruits and veggies either. A study by the Imperial College of London suggests that we should be striving to eat at least five — but optimally, 10 — servings a day. By eating between 400 and 800 grams (or between 1.5 to 3.5 cups) of greens, beans, berries, and other wholesome plants, scientists have found that people can significantly decrease their risk for a number of diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
Even spread across an entire day, however, it can be a little difficult to cram in nearly two cups of vegetables, much less almost four. Eating that many vegetables requires not only prepwork, but access to a variety of fresh produce and the means to buy it consistently. And consuming copious amounts of veggies tends to only provide health benefits if people can vary the types of legumes, shoots, and roots that they're gobbling up. As much as it pains me, I can't honestly say you'll see a healthier heart by eating nothing but potatoes.
Still, if you don't have time to chop, roast, and steam your way to getting your recommended servings in, don't despair. If you know you're unlikely to eat your veggies, I've found a tasty way to drink them instead.
Kencko, an organic food company founded in 2017, offers instant smoothies made of flash-frozen, slow-dried fruits and veggies. The process the company uses to create its smoothie packets renders them into a powder that allows the product to mix well with 10 ounces of cold water or milk, producing a thick and fresh-tasting smoothie. That process also allows Kencko's smoothies to serve as a shelf-stable source of fruits and vegetables; each smoothie packet contains the equivalent of 2.5 servings of fruits and veggies, and can be stored for about a year before it must be used. Even better, Kencko's packaging for its smoothie packets is biodegradable plastic, so the wrappers can be composted if users so choose.
Kencko's decision to provide a powdered form of fruits and veggies also has another benefit — the product is remarkably versatile, even outside of its drinkable form. The powdered fruit and veggies could be added to pretty much anything you already add powdered or dry goods to, meaning you could sneak veggies into a quick bread, pudding, yogurt, sauces, or whatever else may be on your menu. Personally, I found mixing a packet of Kencko into my Oats Overnight to be a great way to make sure that I both get a substantive breakfast in and eat half of my daily recommended veggies in one go.
Because the benefits of eating enough fruits and veggies are usually only felt when a variety is consumed, Kencko groups its smoothies contents together by color. Greens, a tart green smoothie that has quickly become one of my favorites, contains spinach, kale, kiwi, apple, and ginger, for example; Corals, another favorite flavor, contains beetroot, carrot, orange, and mango. Each of the company's offerings is meant to provide a different primary health benefit, such as focusing on vegetables that provide vitamins for skin health or can help with inflammation. Some, such as Golds, even contain a bit of caffeine, in case you need an extra boost.
Related: 9 Veggie Sides for Vegetable Haters
Because Kencko's smoothies are a powdered product and the company prides itself on only using natural preservatives, the smoothies can be prone to clumping. Breaking up the powder in the packet before adding it to milk or water can help that immensely, as can adding a bit of ice to a shaker bottle. Kencko provides its own bottle in its kits, but you can use pretty much any bottle you would use for smoothies or protein shakes.
It's important to note that Kencko is more of a nutritional supplement than a liquid meal replacement; although some of its flavors have a bit of protein, most are around 70 calories when mixed with water and are best paired with an actual meal or snack. It's also not the most inexpensive product. Through the company's website, however, you can get 20 smoothies delivered monthly for $2.99 each. That price might be a steep investment, but as a supplement for those who want to improve their fruit and veggie intake, it can be convenient to stock up on. And if you have family members who simply won't eat their greens, no matter how much you plead, it might be worth the splurge to serve them in smoothie form instead.