Getting kids (and some grown-ups) to eat their greens can be a real challenge- especially my allergy kid, who is conditioned to be leery and picky about everything she puts in her mouth. So why bother? Because we want our family to be healthy and learn good eating habits while they’re young; greens are incredibly nutritious being high in vitamins, anti-oxidants, and trace minerals as well as having anti-viral and cancer fighting properties; and THEY TASTE GOOD! But how to get kids to eat their greens? Here are some ideas that have worked in my house:
Grow it – Let the magic of the garden open up new foods and flavors for your table. Gardening teaches where food comes from, how plants grow, but it also teaches patience and the lovely art of observation. The joy of seeing something grow from a seed to a sprout to a little plant is magical, but the real joy comes when you get to eat it. My kids will eat kale straight from the garden – now that is magic! Greens are really easy to grow: Kale, for example, is resistant to many pests, it tolerates cooler temperatures, and it matures quickly. You don’t need much space, just a couple pots on a patio will work.
Cook it – Get your kids involved with the whole process of cooking their own food: growing, preparing, storing, cooking and cleaning up after the meal. Teaching them to do it themselves is an important lesson in independence, but most of all they will take pride in the food they prepare. My children love to show off their culinary creations- including salads.
Hide it – Use your blender to add greens to a fruit smoothie or your favorite sauce, they won’t even know it’s in there! Here’s a recipe for my favorite green smoothie.
Love it – Just as we model good behavior and excitement for work and art and sport – it is important to model healthy eating. Showing our kids the right way to eat is in my opinion very key to how they will eat and appreciate food into adulthood. So love your greens and they will too!
Share it – Share the love. Once kids get the hang of eating these yummy greens, they will be excited to show them off. Bring some to friends and neighbors and delight in your children’s proud faces as they announce, “I grew this!” Green pride is a beautiful thing.
Here’s a recipe for Kale Crisps that are extremely addicting and your whole family will love: