Spinach is one of those vegetables that is so beneficial for kids, yet so many seem to hate it. If not even Popeye can convince your tot to eat fresh cooked spinach, you are just going to have to find other ways to get this nutrient-rich veggie into his diet. Incorporating spinach into kid-friendly foods such as nuggets and burgers just might do the trick.
If your kid cries for chicken nuggets whenever you pass by a fast-food spot, tell her you can make them at home and make spinach nuggets instead. Use a food processor or a blender to chop up fresh spinach as finely as possible. Whisk two eggs in a bowl, then add the finely chopped spinach and a handful each of ground flaxseed or rolled oats and whole wheat bread crumbs. You can also add spices to taste, such as salt, pepper and garlic. Mix everything together well, then use your hands to form the mixture into small nugget shapes and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake the mixture in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning the nuggets over halfway through the cooking process. Be sure to cut the nuggets into pieces no bigger than a 1/2 inch before serving to your tot to prevent a choking hazard.
Spinach Pasta Shells
Adding fresh spinach to the usual ricotta-stuffed pasta shells adds a boost of nutrition your kids will hardly notice. Cook the pasta shells in boiling water to al dente, and steam fresh, chopped spinach in a steamer basket over boiling water until fully wilted. In small bowl mix part-skim ricotta cheese with low-fat Parmesan cheese, then stir in the steamed spinach. Spread a little marinara sauce in a baking pan, then add the shells, open side up. Stuff the shells with the cheese and spinach mixture, then drizzle the shells with marinara sauce. Bake the shells in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
Turkey Spinach Burgers
For these tasty and healthy burgers, steam the spinach in a steamer basket over boiling water. Season lean ground turkey with garlic powder and other seasonings to taste, then stir in an egg until fully incorporated. Pat the spinach dry with paper towels, then mix into the ground turkey mixture. Form the mixture into patties and grill until the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with a whole wheat bun, lettuce and tomatoes and your tot’s favorite burger toppings. As long as it looks and taste like a burger, your tot will hardly notice the spinach.
For this kid-friendly version of lasagna, cook the pasta noodles as usual, boiling in a pot of water to al dente. Mix fresh steamed spinach with low-fat mozzarella and ricotta cheese in a bowl. Spread the spinach and cheese mixture in the middle of a flat, cooked lasagna noodle, leaving room at the ends. Roll the lasagna roll up from one end to the other and seal the pasta shut with a little water on your fingertips. Put the pasta rolls in a baking dish and add marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
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