Kale and chard and other leafy greens are nutrition powerhouses. They’re high in fiber and rich in vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron. Only one problem remains — figuring out how to get your kids to eat them. You may be tempted to try and sneak pureed greens into other foods, but try to refrain. After all, your child will never develop a taste for veggies if he only ever eats them in brownie form. You’ll find plenty of ways to serve these nutritious vegetables without having to disguise them. Keep in mind, too, that you can usually substitute chard for spinach in just about any recipe around, though it may take a few more minutes for the chard to turn tender. One final tip: kids love growing colorful rainbow chard — and they’re more likely to eat something that they’ve grown themselves, so if you’ve got space for a garden, consider planting a small patch of greens in the spring.
Kale chips are undeniably trendy. But for good reason — they’ve got a rewarding crunch coupled with all those important nutrients. Both kids and adults love them. All you have to do is wash kale, remove the ribs, tear it into pieces, toss it with a small amount of olive oil and bake it in a single layer in a 350 degree oven until crisp. It only takes about 10 minutes.
Greens in Soup
Make alphabet soup — basically a kid’s version of minestrone — and include thinly sliced chard or kale in the soup. Start with a basic mirepoix base of sauteed carrot, celery and onion, all finely diced. Add a can of crushed tomatoes and some good-quality, low-sodium beef stock. Bring to a simmer and add the greens, ribs removed and leaves sliced into ribbons. Cook until tender — kale will take a little longer than chard — then add cooked alphabet noodles and heat through. You can also add a little chopped fresh parsley, fresh or dried marjoram or an Italian herb seasoning blend.
Greens and Pasta
You can take chard and kale in an Italian direction by layering sauteed chard into a lasagna or using it as the basis for a pasta sauce along with some crumbled feta or cubed mozzarella. The cheese mellows the flavors and adds a kid-friendly spin to the dish. Or you can take things in an Asian direction by combining noodles and cooked greens with a little peanut sauce. To saute chard, slice a little garlic and/or onion and saute in olive or other cooking oil until soft. Add sliced ribbons of kale or chard, ribs removed, and saute until wilted.
Greens on Pizza
You can also use chopped sauteed chard or kale as a pizza topping. Simply sprinkle it on before or after the cheese when assembling your homemade pizza. You might not want it to be your only topping, though, so add any other toppings your children might like, such as mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, chicken or cubed ham. You can also try making a pizza bianca and omitting the tomato sauce. In this case, you can also vary the cheese — try fresh goat cheese or ricotta.
Greens and Eggs
Greens and eggs marry well, so if your child loves eggs, definitely give one of these ideas a spin. Use chopped sauteed chard or kale as the filling in an omelet or as the bed for poached or baked eggs. You can also use greens as a filling for a quiche or frittata.
Kale and Peanut Butter Stew
African cuisine abounds with versions of peanut butter stew, also known as groundnut stew. Since peanut butter is a favorite kids’ food as well, it’s worth introducing greens in this fashion. Most traditional versions of groundnut stew contain chicken on the bone but you can also put together a vegetarian version easily. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Add chunks of sweet potato and a can of whole peeled tomatoes, cut into chunks, plus their juice. Next, add chicken broth and peanut butter. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Add sliced, de-ribbed greens and cook until the sweet potatoes and greens are tender. If you’d prefer the version with chicken, brown boned chicken breasts or thighs separately, shred or cut into small chunks and add along with the sweet potatoes.ReferencesSelf Nutrition Data: Kale, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without SaltSelf Nutrition Data: Chard, Swiss, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without SaltWebMD: The Truth about KaleThe New York Times: Recipes for Health