What is it about ‘greens’ that is so hard to get some kids to love them?
Some greens can be bitter or pungent, they can be squishy or slimy… Maybe their friends don’t like their greens either, or something they saw on a movie or ad. Maybe their older siblings screw their noses up at their greens too. Or maybe the food they’re eating doesn’t make them feel very good (maybe gassy or bloated, or give them a pain in the tummy, or maybe they don’t like the way it feels in their fingers or tongue, or the feeling it leaves on their teeth afterwards.
But we’re here to make greens delicious and irresistible!
Benefits of greens
Why bother? Leafy greens are full to the brim with nutrients making them so valuable to include in our daily diets, especially for growing kiddos. Our dark green leafy’s are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and B9 (folate) plus minerals magnesium, non-haem (plant based) iron, potassium, zinc and calcium. They’re also a great source of fibre and a source of essential fatty acids.
You’ll also find loads of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) including lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, quercetin and indoles, which play vital roles in the health and integrity of the growth, development, maintenance and recovery of our body and mind.
Types of greens
|Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Cabbage)||Bok Choy||Silverbeet|
|Endive||Dandelion Greens||Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli)|
It can take 15-20 attempts before a little person is ready to give a new food a crack.
- Try to offer a little green at each meal alongside they’re favourite foods or other foods they are familiar with, for example, serve some broccoli florets alongside a corn fritter with some grapes.
- Experiment with different cooking methods – it might just be that your little one hasn’t found the taste or texture that they can tolerate yet. For example, roasted pumpkin can be pretty squishy and a bit of a challenging texture, but pumpkin soup or fritters might be the way to go.
- Masking strong green flavours with herbs and spices, or other strongly flavoured ingredients can be helpful here. Even though it’s green, pesto is a great tool that kids often enjoy. You can add different greens to the pesto itself (broccoli, rocket, spinach, kale, etc) or use the pesto to flavour another vegetable such as pesto zoodles.
- Show them how it’s done and try not to go overboard with your reactions, either way… kiddos are so observant and they’ll be watching to see how you respond to the food you eat yourself, but also how you react to them and their experience. Sharing a meal together and serving the same foods to everyone in the family without too much fuss is a great way to model great eating habits.
Add more greens
We love getting the kids involved in the foods they eat, and we also love empowering them with knowledge to make their own healthy choices, but as our kids are growing both physically and also becoming more and more independent, sometimes the benefits are so important that we have to bring in the big guns, that it can never hurt to add in a few more veggies while they’re still developing their palate.
Our best tips include:
- Pasta sauce, taco mince, fritters, meatballs and stews are perfect for hiding grated zucchini, broccoli, baby spinach, finely shredded kale, leafy herbs such as parsley, basil, oregano,
- Snack foods such as sausage rolls, dumplings and mini frittatas also hide grated or pureed greens.
- Soups – Blend, grate, mash, camouflage, load up with as much as you can fit in your pot and freeze.
- Baking – zucchini and chocolate chip cookies or breads, avocado mousse, blend spinach through yoghurt before making dough (see our Scroll recipe) or through eggs before making pancakes.
- Smoothies – blend up baby spinach, cucumber, celery and green apple with some bright coloured berries to mask the colour if needed; chocolate, berries or beetroot work well.
- Name the foods with something fun, and something the kids relate to – Hulk Green Smoothie, Cane Toad Cookies, Rainbow Pasta, Slime Smoothie,
- Get the kids involved in the process – making noodles from zucchini, stirring a little spirulina powder through muffin batter to turn the whole thing green before their eyes!
- Make ‘hands on’ foods such as San Choy Bao or lettuce cups, burritos wrapped in lettuce or cabbage or zucchini chips with Green Hummus
- Use green veggies as dippers such as asparagus spears, green beans, cucumber sticks, celery, snow peas and broccoli florets. The flavours of the greens can be masked with the flavour of the dip whilst they’re exposed to the taste of the greens themselves
If you’d like some more inspiration for getting more greens in your little ones lunchboxes and on your dinner plates, head to our shop to grab your copy of our 50 Ways with Greens ebook which is loaded with ideas, inspiration and recipes. Kids can reject a new food for a number of reasons – new textures, smells, colours, surroundings can make it difficult to try or accept new foods. This ebook was designed to help you introduce new ways to try greens that we hope will include that one shining star that your little one LOVES and opens the door to a whole new green world!