How to get kids to eat more Green Vegetables.
Green foods are so darn good for our bodies because of the importance they play in our existence. All vegetables are important for many reasons. However, green foods are givers of life and breath to humans, animals…actually to all living creatures. Green foods, especially leafy greens such as; spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard and romaine contain lutein, a phytochemical from plants that protect our eyes and heart. They are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, and help keep us and our immune system strong and healthy!
So HOW do we learn to embrace green foods and get our kids to eat them too!
Getting kids to eat veggies has been a specialty of Pegs, as is making her green foods taste flipping amazing, well actually finger licking good…
Want to learn to make green foods so tasty you can’t stop eating them? In this blog post, I’ll share my veggie secrets how I got our kids to fall in love with eating vegetables.
All four daughters, including Poppa Tim, had all-out veggie wars… What are veggie wars? That’s when everyone would fight over the crispy ones and eating them before they hit the dinner table. Nothing was left for the next day! ☹ Pegs always made more than enough so that she could have some leftover. You too can create a love affair with vegetables right in your own home.
First let’s take a quick look at some FUN GREEN FOOD FACTS you can share with your kids.
What gives vegetables their green color?
The green color in the vegetables comes from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what helps to oxygenate our cells. It literally gives us breath.
Chlorophyll gives plants its color green, allows plants to absorb energy and build tissue. It’s what helps plants absorb energy from the sun. It keeps plants, animals, and humans, even our planet alive. Without green foods there is no life.
The simple answer is: Without chlorophyll there wouldn’t be green plants. Without green plants there would be no oxygen. Without oxygen there would be no life.
Here’s 12 Reasons Why Green Foods are so Important for our Body:
- Green food protects our cells and body and are nutrient powerhouses.
- Leafy greens and green foods stimulate and strengthen our immune system
- Leafy Greens are good for a healthy heart
- Green foods support optimal gut and digestive health
- Leafy greens help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure
- Greens are loaded with phytonutrients that fight free radicals and help to detox toxins
- Green foods increase antioxidants in our blood and supports optimal brain health
- Green foods help our skin stay healthy and radiant!
- Greens are fiber rich and help with digestion and elimination
- Leafy Greens and green veggies help increase energy and are loaded with beta carotene
- Greens are full of vitamins and essential nutrients. They are nutrient dense and contain: A, B vitamins, C, E and K, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and folate
- Greens are Zen masters helping us naturally reduce stress
Inspiring Ways to add More Greens into your daily meals.
Each one of these ideas are kid friendly…kids of all ages ☺!
- Add 3-4 handfuls of leafy greens into a morning smoothie
- Eat a large salad every day at lunch or dinner or better yet, both ☺ Romaine lettuce is part of the bitter greens family that also help support our liver’s detoxification process
- Zoodle noodles with zucchini. Eat as a pasta grain-free alternative
- Sauté leafy greens with fennel. Add olive oil and flake salt.
- Make cauliflower rice using green cauliflower or Romanesque. Sear, roast or rice it.
- Add sprouts to your salads, smoothies or pop them in your mouth.
- Serve a side of green leafy veggies with your main meal. Add beneficial healthy fats like olive oil or goat butter and a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt.
- Make a swiss chard veggie pattie using a cup or more of green leafy veggies like our spinach patties
- Make soup using a combination of green veggies! Broccoli, Sugar snap peas, peas, cauliflower, zucchini, leafy greens…
- Blend veggies into smoothies, pancakes, waffles, breads, muffins, cakes or cupcakes
- Make pesto pasta and load it with all the green veggies!
- Make stew and add in lots of green and colorful veggies
- Make a Nourish Bowl that’s all plant based
- Make Krispy kale leaves or Brussels with you kids. Eat them right away. The crispy crunch is addictive.
- Eat green fruits like kiwi fruit, green apples and green grapes.
- Have a daily tea party with Tulsi green tea and add a tsp. of raw sage honey. YUM.
Ways to Help Kids Learn to Like, even LOVE eating Green Foods:
- Model eating veggies daily. In fact, play it cool and don’t let them know you care if they eat them or not. Sit down and eat them. Offer them daily. YUP DAILY Do not make it a big deal!
- YOU keep MMMMing A LOT while eating. Jokingly say “NO, these are for me.” They will want them… they smell so good and taste so delish! When they ask or try, say just 1.
- Don’t give up, keep showing up with all the veggies at every dinner. Rotate them. Eventually they will acquiesce. And the veggies become the star of the dinnertime meal.
- Studies show kids need to be introduced to a new foods 10 times before they will actually start to enjoy eating the new food.
- SIDE NOTE: I did an experiment once. Made an entire tray of small diced veggies. Roasted them until caramelized, crisp and fork tender. Sprinkled with Malden flake salt before serving. GONE. The entire tray. Try it.
- Serve up a tray of veggies cooked this way. You can add fresh minced garlic towards the end of cooking, or add garlic granules during the roasting. Salt and oil are key.
- Roasting is great but takes time. SEARING is a speedier method similar to roasting. The veggies still caramelize only it takes less time, 15 minutes instead of an hour!
- Broiling veggies are also an option, just watch them carefully also not to burn them.
- Blanch the veggies, these veggies are to quicken the cooking time and then sear them up while everything else you make is being prepared. Again, olive oil and salt are key.
- Never try and hide vegetables into other recipes. Be up front and honest. In fact, the more communicative you are, the more they will learn to trust you and try new things.
- Never ever boil or blanche a veggies too long, or to the point they are that olive green color. Sadly, kids will remember their bitter taste. A good rule of thumb is to cook for shorter times, blanche for 3 minutes or roast at lower temp longer, for best results and keeping nutrient value.
- Talk about green foods and why it will help their brain think better, grow stronger and do better in school and in sports.
- INVITE YOUR KIDS TO COOK WITH YOU. Kids who cook in the kitchen with you are more likely to eat what they cook, and make healthier food choices.
- GROW vegetables in your yard or containers Kids are more open to trying the food they grow. The success of GrowingGreat.
- Take them to the farmers markets. Let them understand and learn about seasonality of foods. I wrote a children’s’ book all about it! Hey, What’s in Season Now!
- Take them out to dinner. Practice choosing off a menu. Teach them etiquette. Play the game of what vegetable should we try? Everyone picks a new one. Then branch out and try ethnic or culturally diverse restaurants.
- Please do not give ultimatums or food rewards such as, “if you do this we can have ice cream”, or if you don’t do this, you won’t get a treat… Food and rewards are risky.
- Never force a kid to eat, rather simply request, they try it. Create a chart of veggies. Add stars for successfully trying it. If they want they can spit it out. Compliment the effort to try.
- Keep having a child try a food over and over, UNLESS they tell you, it hurts their belly, or there are other reasons such as they have an aversion to that food. Listen to your kids.
- Make trying new foods fun. When it no longer is fun, MOVE ON to other veggies. Make it fun using small tools like small forks or toothpicks to eat, or allow them to eat with their fingers. When you try, keep it short. When we try too hard we can create bigger eating problems. Know when to stop. Always complement their effort.
Top Green Vegetables to rotate throughout your weekly meals:
- Leafy greens: Spinach, collards, swiss chard, beet greens, baby kale, bok choy, dandelion, watercress, microgreens/sprouts
- Romaine lettuce and other varieties of leafy salad greens, Spring green mix, endive, escarole
- Green Beans, Chinese long beans, roman beans
- Broccoli, Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe
- Brussel Sprouts and cabbages
- Romanesque and green cauliflower
- Sugar Snap Peas, Snow peas, English peas
- Chili peppers
Side Note: Green peppers work for some people, but not everyone, especially for me. Peppers are part of the nightshade family. Green peppers are considered unripe and can cause acid reflux, inflammation or indigestion. However, for me, colorful peppers do not cause indigestion. I know which foods work best for me from doing our Cleansing with Food Reset. You can too. I believe it’s what up-leveled my health.
Curry Girls Kitchen top green food recipes.
Find them in Damn Good Gluten Free and in our website.
- Spinach Patties
- Breakfast burrito, updated
- Broccoli Soup with a zest of lemon juice
- House Garden Salad with our famous House dressing
- Blistered Veggies Peg’s champion for method for cooking veggies
- Riced Cauliflower
- Vegetable or Chicken Stew
- Veggie Rice
- Farmers Market Veggie Stir Fry
- Veggie Pesto Pasta
At the end of the day we all know how good veggies are for us. Adding more colorful and green foods daily help our body stay strong and healthy. Make it delicious so that eating green veggies becomes a habit you and your kids enjoy. When you show your enjoyment, your family will also learn to enjoy these foods. Its why I created Damn Good Gluten Free, the family friendly cookbook with 140 delicious customizable recipes loaded with so many ways to cook veggies. ☺
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