Getting greens into kids has always been a challenge. We all remember orders to ‘eat your greens’ from our mothers! It is even more of a challenge nowadays with all the alternatives that are available. Back in the day of the more traditional cooking of our mothers and grandmothers, the only challenge was getting the children to eat the greens on their plate, but nowadays there are multiple problems; in a lot of cases is the greens are not even being served up, if they are they may have been grown in nutrient depleted soil, have possibly travelled across the world or been sprayed within an inch of their lives with pesticides.
Green foods are some of the most beneficial we can eat when it comes to giving our bodies the nutrients it needs to function properly. Packed with the whole range of vitamins as well as, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits are endless; blood clotting, energy, vision, bone health, cholesterol, skin can all benefit from eating green veg. Easy to see why we need to be eating them every day in every meal. We only have to glance at the average Irish daily diet for many kids of breakfast cereal, ham sandwich, chicken goujons, sausages, chips, treats and it is easy to see how many kids are not eating any greens at all. The results are clear in ever rising list of symptoms we are seeing in kids today, like pale skin, lack of concentration, child obesity, behaviour issues, the list goes on. We are doing the next generation an injustice! Feeding today’s kids well and educating them in health and nutrition is the simplest, quickest, most cost effective way to turn our obesity and healthcare crises around.
Heres our top suggestions on how to get greens into kids? What to do with fussy eaters? And how to avoid those dreaded dinner rows!
Smoothies are such a handy way to get veg into kids. A little of most leafy greens e.g. Spinach, lettuce, pak choi, kale can be added to a berry, banana smoothie and a little chunk of other veg like carrot, celery or peeled courgette usually goes unnoticed. Yes some of you will argue that it is better to eat the veg rather than blend it, but if it’s a choice between getting it into them or not this is a good option to get the nutrients into them. Start with a tiny bit and build it up from there!
Soups are a great versatile way to vary your child’s diet. Whatever your child’s taste from tomato to creamy chicken there is room there to slip in a little veg without too much of a battle. Again start with getting them to like certain types and then add more and more veg each time. And remember a little of a lot of different veg is going to give your child the whole range of nutrients!
Sauces are a fantastic place to sneak in some hidden veg. Many kids enjoy saucy meals like Spag Bol or lasagne etc A Nutribullet or blender makes it so easy to blitz a little extra veg through your sauce, slipping it past your little angels lips without a complaint. A great tomato sauce can be made by sautéed onion, garlic, celery then add carrot, peeled courgette and fry further and then adding passata, seasoning, honey/ brown sugar to sweeten slightly, dash balsamic vinegar. Perfect for little ones!
Making raw veg sticks a staple at snack time can get kids picking away at veggies in no time. Even if they don’t eat them at first keep it up, you can pick away at them yourself or even better if their friend is visiting they may partake, nothing better then seeing what their peers are doing and thinking ‘hmmm I might give that a go’. Remember if it’s not out on the table they are definitely not going to try it!
Adding to their favourites
Focussing on what they like and adding to that is the best way to get them on side, so if they like a bolognese, try and add some veg to the sauce. If they like a sandwich maybe add lettuce or cucumber.
Simply explaining the benefits of certain foods to kids can get them interested. Especially if a child has certain health concerns, rather than getting into a row, simply explaining that trying certain foods could make them feel better, the whole food as medicine concept, can actually have good results, event if not right away after the idea has time to settle!
8 a day
Guidelines now show that we should be eating approx 8 a day of fruit and veg. That amount can feel like a bit of a challenge with kids but with a little bit of thought and planning it can be easily done. Handy tips with smallies are making fruit/ fruit salad a regular at breakfast time, making veg & fruit a part of snack time, having veg at lunch and dinner, having fruit as a treat or dessert, if eating out opting for veg instead of chips.
There are so many benefits to upping your veg intake, energy, skin, mood, digestion, behaviour, There’s no doubt more veg = a happier healthier child. I think we would all agree that is worth a little extra work & perseverance!