child eating 8greens lollipop

Greens for Picky Eaters: Vegetable Ideas for the Whole Family


 

You want your kids to eat their vegetables, but not if it means a standoff at the dinner table. Or, maybe it's not just your kids who are weary of green salads and dreaded broccoli–parents can be picky eaters too. That’s where our two-pronged, disguise and surprise approach comes in. Instead of serving plain vegetables alongside fun, kid-approved foods and hoping they reach for the broccoli, fold greens through their favorite foods, or transform versatile vegetables into chips, poppers, crackers, and dips. 

 

Our founder, Dawn Russell, is a mom to two young boys and an absolute pro at finding creative ways to get her family to eat real greens. Luckily for us, she shared some of her favorite recipes, as well as ingredient and nutrition insight from her many years of research, in the The 8Greens Cookbook. We’ve included some of those tips below, along with new tried-and-tested tips from the 8Greens office. (Ed note: hyperlink to book.)

 

First: What Greens Matter Most? 

While all plants have vital nutrients, here at 8Greens, we’re particularly fond of the eight types of REAL greens we incorporate into each and every one of our products. If you’re wondering where to start, here are two of our very favorite greens to cook with out of those stellar eight. (And if you ever need a shortcut, kids love our greens-packed gummies and lollipops.) (Ed note: hyperlink to gummies and lollipops.)

 

Spinach: Spinach has alkalizing properties that help support a healthy aging process. On top of that, it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. Spinach also has a sweet, mild taste that can be disguised easily in sauces and smoothies. 

 

Kale: With seven times more beta-carotene than broccoli, kale is one of the healthiest, most nutritionally-dense vegetables around. Kale’s fibrous leaves make for excellent chips–douse them in nutritional yeast or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a cheesy (or faux-cheesy) snack. 

 

Disguise: How to Incorporate Vegetables into Beloved Family Favorites

Sometimes, the easiest way to get your whole family to eat their daily 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables is to hide them in plain sight. 

 

Dissolve an 8Greens tablet into smoothies, juices, stocks, and soups. The absolute easiest way to sneak in greens? Add an 8Greens tablet to whatever you’re cooking. Our founder Dawn is particularly fond of dropping one into her spinach soup recipe (check out the 8Greens cookbook for her simple method) and baked goods alike. 

green blend in mason jar

Blend vegetables into your pizza or pasta sauce. Blend a few cups of baby spinach through a passata for added nutritional value. If you’re using the sauce on a pasta, add in thin ribbons of kale, or finely diced leek or zucchini along with the onion and garlic.

 

Dawn’s Tip: Both leeks and garlic have antifungal and antiviral properties, making them especially great during cold season. (ED NOTE: Can you format these tips in boxes, or colored font? I think they should be smaller than the tips themselves, but should stand out.)

 

Dawn’s Tip: 75% of the nutritional value of onions come from the top two layers, so don’t peel them before chopping. 

 

Weave vegetable noodles through pasta. No kid is going to be fooled by a bowl full of zoodles. But spaghetti tangled with a bit of butternut squash or zucchini noodles? That might just pass. 

 

Throw a handful of greens into a morning smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to get nutritionally dense snacks or breakfasts into your kids–just make sure you’re loading them with healthy fats and protein, not just fruit, for even blood sugar throughout the morning. The mild flavor of spinach will go undetected in a berry smoothie. 

 

Dawn’s Tip: Sneak in more fiber by adding flaxseed. The seeds aid in digestion, and help kids' hair and nails grow too.

 

Dawn’s Tip: A smoothie is the ideal mask for a probiotic powder, which is full of healthy bacteria.

8greens cookbook

Sneak greens and beans into brownies and baked goods. Carrot cake isn’t the only vegetable-loving bake. The dense, fudgy taste of brownies hides black beans, which are high in fiber and protein. Add a can of black beans to the brownie recipe from the 8Greens cookbook, which is also high in healthy omega fats and boasts secret greens from an 8Greens effervescent tablet. 

 

Dawn’s Tip: Maple syrup and dates are both mineral-rich, minimally processed alternatives to refined table sugar. Maple syrup has a glycemic index score of 54 (compared to 65 for cane sugar) which means it impacts blood sugar less drastically. Plus, they both add a delicious flavor to baked goods that goes beyond just plain sweet.

 

Surprise: Transform Vegetables into Fun Foods. 

In order for kids to grow up knowing they not only tolerate, but like, vegetables, they do need to know they are eating them. (At least some of the time!) To give their little palates a chance to develop, try fun preparations with vegetables that go beyond just roasted, steamed, or tossed through a salad. 

 

Make a crunchy chip out of them. Kale and thinly sliced beets both make excellent chip alternatives. Toss them in a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt, then set them in a low oven (325 F should do the trick) until dehydrated to crispy goodness. 

 

Dawn’s Tip: Olive oil is the healthiest edible oil thanks to its relatively low saturated fat content as well as the omega-6 and omega-3 dose it provides.

 

Turn veggies into poppers or nuggets. Dredge cauliflower florets the same way you would chicken fingers or wings, then bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 or so minutes and drizzle with your favorite dipping sauce. 

 

Make a legume-based chip dip. Blend a bean of your choice with sea salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and a bit of ice cold water until you get a smooth, creamy dip. Adding in a bit of  beet juice will make a fun pink dip that your kids might like more than standard hummus–while getting all the antioxidants of beets, too, of course. 

 

Dawn’s Tip: Kidney beans are high in protein and fiber. White kidney beans are more subtle in flavor–try those first!