Why do kids (supposedly) dislike green foods so much? Is it their way of rebelling against something that’s “good for you”? Is it a taste or a texture thing? Or is it just something they’ve been culturally programmed to dislike, even before they’ve had a chance to try it?
Many kids are raised to eat greens from the beginning; but at about the 2-year-old mark, when kids start to be more picky about the foods they eat, even some of the most open-minded kids start to rebel – and usually the rebellion is over healthy foods. Sure, some kids continue to be omnivores even through this picky stage. (We’re lucky to have one in our family. Even if he doesn’t like a food, he’ll cheerfully announce, “I don’t like this,” and go ahead and eat it.) But other kids struggle with tastes that are too strong, textures that are unfamiliar, and colors that are anything other than bland.
We recently had a chance to sample a variety of great-tasting greens from Cut N Clean Greens, and it got us thinking: Why don’t more kids eat greens readily? Personally, we think they’re delicious, but what it would take to make a reluctant child think so too?
The first product we tried was the IRONman greens salad kit (spinach and beet greens), which comes complete with a small packet of bacon dressing. Bacon? Ding, ding, ding!!!! If there’s anything that can get kids excited about eating salad, it’s bacon. So we cooked up some bacon and crumbled it into the salad.
Then our four-year-old (the omnivore) looked over at the big basket of fresh strawberries we’d just bought from the farmers’ market and said, “Why don’t we put some strawberries in the salad?” Bingo! The IRONman bacon/strawberry salad was born. And yes, the whole family ate it all in one sitting. The bacon dressing was perfect because it was very light and just slightly sweet, so our kids who usually don’t like dressing on the salad enjoyed it as a welcome change.
Next we thought about the fact that some of the more “bitter” greens (putting that in quotes because they don’t taste bitter to many adults, but some kids find the flavor too strong) could benefit from pairing with something bland. Since it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday weekend, we decided on a kid-friendly Greens, Eggs, and Ham Frittata.
For this recipe, we used the Euro Greens (Swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale) mix from Cut N Clean Greens, but you can use any greens you have on hand. To prepare the greens, we chop them down and saute them briefly in olive oil until they are wilted.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup greens, chopped and cooked
1/2 cup cooked ham, cut into cubes
1 russet potato, cooked, peeled, and chopped in cubes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a heavy cast-iron skillet with the oil (including up the sides), and heat the skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk or blend the eggs, milk, and yogurt together in a large bowl. (Best if you can use a hand-cranked mixer; even better if you can use a small person as your assistant.)
Add the greens, ham, and potato and stir until just combined. Pour the mixture into the skillet. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sides start to become firm. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the egg mixture has set. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
You think that’s all we’ve got up our sleeve? Think again. Stay tuned for more kid-friendly greens recipes coming up this week. Hint: St. Patrick’s Day is coming!