Crazy for colors (anytime)

April 26, 2008

Yesterday we started a new experiment that M. “read” about in a magazine: colored daisies. We filled six glasses with water and added food coloring to each of them to make all the colors of the rainbow, then we put white daisies into each one. In theory, the daisies are supposed to drink up and turn the same color as their water — and on one we split the stem so it’s drinking two colors, blue and yellow.

The catch is that it isn’t working yet, 24 hours later. We’re seeing a few veins on the underside of the petals turn red or orange or blue, but the rest of the petals are still stark white. So I think I’ll dump in a bunch more food coloring and see if that does the trick. (To do your own Crazy Daisy experiment, click here for directions.)

I wasn’t surprised M. leaped on this idea, because for the past few weeks we’ve been experimenting with colors in other ways too. The longest running of these experiments is the Smoothie Project, which entails making smoothies of every color of the rainbow and then some. We drink smoothies a couple of times a week, and it was easy to get pink and blue and yellow and orange and purple … but then we started going for colors like true red, brown, black and white. Those are challenging us in some very creative ways.

Our basic three-serving smoothie recipe is guaranteed not to fail: Take 8 ounces of yogurt (either with fruit or plain) and pour it into the blender. Add two ripe bananas (either peeled and frozen ahead of time or fresh). Let the kids run the blender a few times to get a nice thick goo — this step can go on and on in you’re working with a 22-month-old! — then add your choice of frozen fruit (about 2 cups), ice (about the same amount) and any other fresh fruit, should you so desire. Once all that’s in the blender, pour in your choice of 100% fruit juice to cover and let ‘er rip.

This basic ratio of fresh-frozen-liquid makes a satisfying smoothie. Note that there’s no added sugar — even using plain yogurt, the fruits more than compensate with sweetness — and that there are an infinite number of combinations. Green has been one of our favorites; I’d never have guessed that M. would be OK with my tossing in a couple big fresh spinach leaves in addition to kiwis, but I’d read that they get blended up completely, and guess what? It’s true! You’d never have guessed there was spinach in that smoothie.

It’s hard to go completely wrong, although we’ve made a couple false steps: Mandarin oranges, for example, just aren’t meant for smoothies, although plain old orange juice tastes fine. And we can’t find a way to get a black smoothie, even using blackberries, black currant juice, blueberries and blue food coloring. It’s that yogurt lightening it up. We’ve recently moved on to a quest for white, using white grape juice, apples, bananas, plain yogurt and ice.  Very yummy, if I do say so myself!

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