I remember when I was a child, that green gloppy substance on my school tray was anything but appealing. As we get older, we begin to appreciate the value of those things we simply refused to eat 30 years ago. Since spinach is essentially a super-green, it is important that we find a way to encourage our children to eat it as well as other vegetables that they turn noses up at. What are some methods that I have used to get my children to eat more greens?
1. Salads - Although spinach is far more potent boiled, served raw it will still provide a great deal of vitamins and minerals a child needs for a plethora of physical attributes. Mixing raw spinach in with salads essentially camouflages the leafy green. As long as you don't specifically tell your child what it is he or she is actually eating, they could grow to love the salad with each dinner. Personally, I'll toss in some mushrooms and onions that the children seem to enjoy.
2. Lasagna - My lasagna is usually greener than it really needs to be. This is especially true around St. Patrick's Day - where everything is expected to be green. However, I tend to add a bit more spinach inside my lasagna recipe. Some cooks neglect what spinach brings to the taste and omits having a thin layer of chopped greens within the dish. While the noodles themselves are not entirely healthy, the fresh vegetables I used from the homemade sauce to the cottage cheese make the meal worthwhile. Keep in mind the size of portions as too much of a good thing can be bad.
3. Spinach and Mashed Potatoes - Shredded spinach can be added to just about any dish. Did you know that if you shred the spinach finely it looks like chives when used in potatoes? Melt or mix shredded cheese into the potatoes as well and the children will barely notice that there is spinach inside. Cheese can be used as a great method for hiding the taste of spinach for children that downright refuse to eat the green.
4. Quiche - Quiche is another dish that I have found that adding vegetables can encourage them to eat. Making a spinach, bacon and cheese quiche can be quite enjoyable especially since the bacon has such a pronounced taste and smell. The children will be more into the fact that the meal has bacon over the rest of the contents.
5. The Recipe Book - Never underestimate the value of a good cookbook. By diligently examining recipes, you can find many that include spinach that the children will love. In some situations, you may even be able to replace some of the recipe with other veggies such as the salad example above. Don't be afraid of being creative and encourage your children to be your "taste testers" while experimenting. You may find that they enjoy the meal even though it is loaded with "gross" vegetables. Just don't tell them what's in the food.
Sometimes you need to be very creative when it comes to convincing a child to eat more vegetables and leafy greens. For some, it's the sheer color that drives them away. Be vigilant in trying to get them to embrace eating healthier. It could become a trend that they take with them when they grow up themselves.
Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.