Snacks & Treats
5 Tasty Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Green
By Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner with Julie
Mar 15, 2016
It’s easy being green—so long as you have a bottle of food colouring on hand—but why not take this opportunity to ditch the candies and colourings and encourage kids to eat more real greens in honour of the season? It’s best for all of us to eat as many colours of the rainbow as possible—especially dark green—so incorporating kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocado and leafy greens into our daily diet in as many ways as possible is a Very Good Thing. Working greens into your kids’ snacks is an even bigger bonus; here are a few ways to do it deliciously, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and beyond.
Roasted Green Beans
A roasted green bean is a lot like a french fry, only better for you. Simply toss green beans (trim the stem ends off first) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then roast until golden for an irresistible snack.
- as many green beans as you like
- olive or canola oil
- coarse salt
1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
2. Trim the stems off the green beans and spread them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and roll around with your hands to coat them well. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until blistered and turning golden. Serve warm.
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Kids who like avocado (they exist) might love avocado toast. Simply halve a ripe avocado, scoop out half with a fork and mash/spread onto grainy toast. Sprinkle with salt. This can do double duty as lunch or dinner in a pinch—try topping it with tuna, or a poached egg.
Kale or Spring Greens & Basil Pesto
My son has loved pesto since he was little—pasta tossed with pesto, salmon spread with pesto, even pesto pizza. It’s easy enough to make at home, even without a glut of fresh basil; substitute spring greens, spinach or even kale. When the first smooth green shoots emerge from the ground, pluck your garlic scapes and add them to pesto too. It’s an easy recipe for kids to get involved with—let them put everything into the bowl of a food processor, grate the cheese and press pulse to combine. If they have good aim, they’ll enjoy pouring olive oil through the feed tube, too. Toss pesto with pasta, spread on chicken or salmon before baking, or use in place of tomato sauce on a pizza.
- 4 cups fresh kale, chard, spinach and/or arugula, roughly chopped (discard stems)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper
1. If you’re using kale, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil; add the kale and blanch for 2-3 minutes, until tender and wilted.
2. Place in the bowl of a food processor (other greens can be used raw) with the basil, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice and pulse until well blended. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil, blending and scraping down the side of the bowl, until well blended and roughly smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a jar for up to a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
I know, they’re so 2 years ago, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious.
To make kale chips, tear leaves of kale into big bite-sized pieces, tossing out the thick stems. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil; toss with your hands to coat them well, and sprinkle with salt. Rearrange in a single layer and roast at 400˚F for about 10 minutes, until crisp and starting to turn golden. (Watch them closely—if your oven is too hot they can burn quickly!)
Green Smoothies (or Shamrock Shakes)
Green smoothies are simple—you can use any kind of fruit and yogurt you normally use in a smoothie, and add enough spinach, fresh parsley or kale to turn it green. Avoid using blueberries, blackberries or other dark berries so that the green colour isn’t overwhelmed. If you want it really green and creamy, like an ice cream-free Shamrock Shake, use the formula below. And if you’re into juicing, spinach, cilantro, romaine and pineapple juice is a pretty tasty combo.
- 1-2 cups baby spinach or kale leaves
- 1 cup milk or almond milk
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- a few Medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 tsp. mint extract, or a handful of fresh mint (optional)
1. Combine everything in a blender and whiz until smooth. Serves 1-2.
This post was originally published in February 2015.