LIVINGSTON, NJ - In honor of Food Day, The West Essex YMCA organized a Healthy Smoothie Contest in coordination with Shoprite of Livingston. The event was designed to get parents and kids in the kitchen together; to find some good ways for kids to eat fruits and veggies while having a delicious smoothie; and to help people learn about good smoothies versus unhealthy smoothies (because not all smoothies are created equal).

In mid Oct., the top three smoothies, as selected by a panel of judges, were served at a tasting at the Family Fun Day for YMCA After Care Families and the public at the YMCA. Those in attendance tasted all smoothies and voted for their favorite in addition to enjoying healthy trail mix, recycle pumpkin bottle crafts and of course swimming with the pumpkins in the pool.

Livingston resident Soma Chaudhuri’s smoothie, Protein Tropicana, was selected as the winning entry.

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“Soma’s Protein Tropicana was the deserved winner; not only did her smoothie meet our healthy guidelines and taste delicious, but her presentation was beautiful as well," said, Joanne Brown, YMCA’s Senior Director of School Age Children & Pioneer Trails Day Camp Director. "We were impressed on so many levels by this smoothie.” 

The Green Pina Colada, submitted by LaChell Miller was the runner up, followed by the Hillside Tongue Tazer, submitted by the Hillside YMCA afterschool program.

Soma Chaudhuri’s Protein Tropicana:

Servings: 2

Serving size: 16 oz

Ingredient List:

Ripe Mango, Greek Yogurt, Almonds, Carrot, Banana, Avocado, Low Fat Milk, Cardamom, Ginger

Measurement Amount, Brand, Type:

1/2 cup sweet ripened Mango (peeled and diced)

1/4 cup organic carrot (peeled and chopped)

1/4 cup ripe Avocado (peeled, seeded and sliced)

1 yellow Banana (peeled, sliced)

8 raw Almonds

1 and 1/2 cups Low Fat Organic Milk

½ cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt

2 teaspoon Natural Honey

2 green Indian Cardamom (fresh peeled and ground)

1 slice fresh Ginger (crushed)


The night before:

Combine almonds with 1 cup of warm water and salt in a container. Make sure the nuts are completely covered with water, if not, add more water. Cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight at room temperature. This is a key step as it will help you activate the nuts, breaking down the naturally occurring phytic acid, which can cause bloating and other digestive issues. It also activates the enzymes in the nuts making them easier to digest.

In the morning:

  1. Peel and slice fresh ginger and set aside.
  2. Peel a few green cardamoms and separate the seeds. Use a regular mortar and pestle to crush the cardamom seeds until almost smooth. Cover to keep the flavor from escaping.
  3. Drain water and add the soaked almonds, carrots, banana, avocado, mango and sliced ginger into a blender. Add ½ cup of low fat milk to the blender along with some ice. Puree until very smooth (about 4 minutes with a conventional blender).
  4. Then add remaining Low Fat milk, Honey, Greek Yogurt, crushed cardamom and some more ice blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information for 8 oz serving:

296 calories, 5.25 grams of protein, 5 grams Fiber  

When asked about her inspiration for this recipe, Soma stated, “As a mother of two I always challenge myself with creating tasty food that is equally healthy! I believe that natural flavors, colors and tastes always triumph over artificial ingredients. My smoothie recipe is inspired by natural flavors from my homeland, India, as well as my extensive travel through different parts of the world. Cardamom, the Indian spice when blended with fresh Ginger and Carrot creates a unique refreshing flavor. Almond, a great source of protein, when soaked, activates enzymes that help digestion. The Mango, Banana, Milk, Honey and plain Greek yogurt is a perfect combination to make this smoothie so delicious to all ages. And a hint of Avocado only makes the smoothie super smooth.”

An e-recipe book with all smoothie entries has been put together and is available to anyone who would like it. Email Stacey Rubinstein, Livingston’s Food Day Chair, at for a complete copy of all of the recipes. Special thanks to Shoprite, which supplied three $50 dollar gift cards that were used by ther top three participants to purchase ingredients with for the big tasting event.

Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. This is the fourth year that Food Day was held and the third that Livingston participated in. Key partners in Livingston’s Food Day efforts included the West Essex YMCA, Livingston Township, ShopRite, Kings, Livingston Public Schools, C.H.O.W, West Essex Tribune and other community groups.