How To Sneak Greens Into Your Kid’s Diet
Greens, the holy grail of a parent’s breakfast lunch, and dinner arsenal. If you can get your kids to eat them without bribing, pleading, or hiding them, we’ll be front row at your Ted Talk.
Green vegetables in particular are a stop shop for holistic nutrition at a time when our kids need it most. Leafy greens and vegetables are full of iron, vitamins A, C, and K, and antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein that kids need to grow healthy and strong. They are the most nutrient-dense superstars of nutrition.
Green vegetables, and especially leafy greens, like Kale, chard, collard greens, and spinach are all bursting with Vitamins A, B, E, C, and K. They also are powerhouses of folate (Vitamin B9) which is responsible for building new cells. Simply put, greens supercharge our kid’s growth at a precious time in their development.
Unfortunately, these often aren’t on most of our children’s preferred menu. Finding ways to get greens into your children is a worthy challenge and we are here to make it easier on both parents and kids alike!
How To Get Your Kids To Eat Their Greens
It’s not always about trickery (but we’re not beneath it) it’s also about slowly integrating them into familiar foods, and most importantly, having your kids build a relationship with their food. An appreciation for how our food is grown and what part it plays in making them strong will help build a deeper bond with their arch nemesis; green foods.
Here are several ways to get your kids their greens.
1. Add Them To A Shake Or Smoothie
While we primarily advocate education and self-selection when it comes to getting children to make healthy choices, sometimes you need to sneak it in and explain later!
A shake made with plant-based milk, some cocoa powder or berries, or both, can go a long way in masking the color and taste of some greens. Toss a few pieces of spinach in a chocolate shake next time and see if they even notice. If they don’t you can share later and remind them that greens can taste good!
Later you can have them help select greens and be part of the smoothie making process.
2. Blend Them Into Pasta Sauce
This is a pro parent trick that is easy to incorporate into the kid classic; pasta.
Blend steamed or sauteed greens like broccoli and zucchini in with your next pasta sauce and they likely won’t even notice!
This goes for really any vegetable. Alternatively, use them to make a marinara for a homemade pizza. This can also be an opportunity to introduce new vegetables as toppings.
3. Bake It In
Vegetables and baked goods? It works! Try shredding zucchini into your next cake or banana bread. Add a few chocolate chips in for maximum distraction and sneakiness. Spinach can also be juiced and added to the batter of just about any baked good. While the nutrients will be somewhat diminished, they will still get a great dose of fiber and fat-soluble vitamins D, E, and K which are mostly unaffected by cooking.
4. Add To Sauteed Meat
Ground meat can make a great decoy. Before sauteing ground meat, add some finely diced asparagus, green beans, or spinach in with the seasoning. If you take care to make everything the same consistency, it will likely go unnoticed. If you want to push your luck, add finished version to the green charged pasta sauce and toss it all together. You’ll have a green-charged meal the kids will love.
5. Make It Fun
Ultimately, to have our kids make healthy choices on their own, they should be part of the process. We don’t want to hide the greens forever; we want the kids to celebrate, enjoy, and be grateful for the way the earth nourishes us.
To create fun around healthy eating, have your children participate in growing their own food garden. Let them help prepare meals by cutting and cooking the vegetables. Make eating fun by cutting them into creative shapes or giving dishes a “face” by letting them arrange the vegetables into eyes, ears, mouths, and noses on their plate. All it takes is one brave kid to try and create a domino effect for the rest.
Eventually, little experiences will grow into strong habits and strong kids.