For some, convincing your kids to eat vegetables is a struggle and persuading your child to eat (and enjoy) dark leafy greens may seem nearly impossible. Is it worth the effort? Nutritionists say yes due to the slew of health benefits associated with kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and the like. Practically multivitamin, dark leafy greens are one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the produce aisle.
Leafy greens are rich in anti-oxidants and they have immune boosting powers. Greens are also an excellent source of plant-based calcium which plays an important role in bone health and development. Are you struggling to ramp up the fiber in your kid’s diet? Greens can help with that too. Rich in iron, as well as other minerals and a bounty of phytonutrients, are simply too good for your body to skip. But, despite greens’ inherent goodness, their nutritional benefits are not likely to impress your children.
You can add leafy greens to a soup or stew, sauté them up as a side dish, or even add them to an omelet, but most children don’t want to see an overwhelming amount of green on their plate. But, don’t give up; you don’t have to avoid serving these good-for-you vegetables simply because your children are not onboard — dark leafy greens can be both delicious and kid-friendly. One of the easiest ways to encourage your children to eat more leafy greens is to introduce them into other kid-approved grub like popcorn or pasta. Whether you opt for fresh or frozen greens, baby greens or their adult counterparts, incorporating small amounts here and there is far better than eating no greens at all.
Many nutritionists and pediatricians say that a child has to taste a food ten times before a true taste preference is formed, so keep trying. We’ve come up with nine ideas to help you get started.
Purée baby greens like kale or spinach with naturally sweet mango and pineapple then add water to create the liquid base. Freeze the popsicles in traditional molds or in fun ones shaped like bugs or a ring.
For added flavor and nutrition, purée a handful of greens with your eggs before adding them to the meat mixture.
Katie Cavuto is a Registered Dietician, Chef, Freelance Writer, and mom. For more on healthy eating visit her website.