Kids and Kale

I was a picky child, and the list of vegetables I didn’t like was longer than the ones I did.

Today my 6- and 3-year-old happily eat kale.

They’ve also thrown a tantrum because they really wanted broccoli, and we only had cauliflower.

How did that happen?

Here’s what I’ve learned about getting kids to eat green veggies:

1. Start with the freshest vegetables you can find

Farmer’s markets are your best bet, as are Community Supported Agriculture programs.

Grocery store veggies just don’t taste as good, which adds to the challenge of getting kids to eat vegetables.

For bonus points, you can plant your own.

With a sunny window, a small container with potting soil, and a handful of seeds, you can be growing leafy veggies in no time. Plus if you get kids to help you plant your greens, they’re more likely to be excited to eat them.

Bok choy and Choy sum growing in the greenhouse
Bok choy and Choy sum growing in the greenhouse

2. Cook veggies in animal fat

As a former raw vegan, this is a 180-degree departure… 

There are studies showing that animal fat is a better type of oil to cook with and that our bodies absorb it better…

But the big reason to cook with it is that it just tastes better.

Here’s our basic approach: blanch the veggies in boiling water for a minute or two so they’re more tender but still a little crunchy.

Then toss in bacon grease (or butter, lard, tallow), a bit of salt, and diced garlic.

This is the basic recipe we use and our kids polish off their veggies readily. You can also experiment with other flavoring options like soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, etc.

3. Cut and cook the stems

The stems of vegetables are crunchier and a good gateway to the full leafy vegetable. Plus, no waste!

4. Offer different vegetables each day

They might prefer swiss chard, cabbage, kale, beet greens, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, gai lan, bok choy, mizuna, rapini, choy sum, or Brussels sprouts… you get the idea.

Variety and diversity is your friend. This is also where growing your own veggies can come in handy, because you can grow a larger variety than you can likely find at the local grocery store.

Some of my favorite places to buy vegetable seeds are Rare Seeds and West Coast Seeds.

5. Don’t force it and enjoy leafy greens yourself…

Never make your kids feel bad if they don’t want to eat their vegetables. Keep offering them at each meal and ask them to try them.

But the most important thing is for you to show that you enjoy your veggies. You’ll model that they’re tasty and good for you. Our kids learn from what we do, not what we say.

Then sit back and wait for the “broccoli tantrums”. (You can thank me later?)

P.S. Why would I write about this?

I know we all want to do everything we can for our kids… and this is one thing that can have a ripple effect on a person for their whole life. It’s a nutrient-dense food that’s high in fiber and is just plain good for you.

Plus, these habits last for a lifetime and can protect against so many degenerative or chronic issues down the line.


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