by Alyssa Bauman of Nourished.ca
Eating more greens is probably the single best thing that you can do to ease into a healthier household. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, you can begin by making an effort to serve more greens – kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, any dark and leafy green – with every meal. That alone will make a difference. The easiest and most efficient way to get your kids to eat their greens is to drink them through healthy and delicious smoothies. Nutritionally, greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fibre, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and Phytochemicals that will fuel your child’s body and brain.
Want your kids to eat vegetables (and actually like them)? These 5 tried-and-true strategies will have them gobbling up their greens in no time.
1) Involve them every step of the way.
Bring your children with you to the grocery store, farmer’s market, or fruit stand, and let them touch, hold, smell, and even taste the ingredients. Tell them that you’ll be using these to make some yummy drinks. Let them measure, cut, and get right in there in the kitchen. Older kids will enjoy helping you to pick out the recipes. When you make a juice or smoothie, they can help wash the ingredients and place the prepared veggies into a bowl or unplugged blender.
2) Tell them how cool it is to drink a green juice.
Share with your children the benefits of drinking their greens. Explain the energy-boosting pros, and liken these benefits to their favourite superhero, cartoon character or sports star. If you have a friend or relative that they look up to, ask them to also tell your child how cool drinking green juice is, because sometimes hearing it from someone they look up to is all a kid needs to try something new (this worked with my nephews!). Tell older kids about the benefits such as clearer skin, a natural glow, and longer nails, and every time you make a drink, ask your child to give it a funny name like “Green Man Super Juice” to keep it fun and exciting. For young kids, you can make a game out of it and after they drink their juice or smoothie, dress them up like a superhero to play around the house with their newfound “superpowers” from drinking superfoods!
3) Let them pick out a fun cup and straw at the store.
Tell them that this is their special cup or straw, that they’ll only use to drink green juices and smoothies. Stick to it, and only let them use this cup or straw when you make your green drinks. Pretty soon they might be begging you to make juice, just so they get to drink out of their favourite new accessory.
4) Lead consistently by example and don’t sweat it.
Don’t make a big deal out of drinking it, and be sure to keep it a positive experience for your kids. Adding too much pressure might make some kids feel leery. If they refuse to drink it, just say “oh well!” and keep trying every day until they finally do. Remember that some kids need to be exposed to new foods 10 times before they will try it. Lead by example and drink the same green juice with them. Show them how much you love drinking yours. Some kids will feel more comfortable just watching you drink it first, and will take a sip of yours before committing to drinking their own cup. Even after they’ve been drinking green juice for a while, there may be some days that they will refuse to drink it. Don’t sweat it. Change up the recipes so that it’s not the same every time, and just keep offering it to them regularly.
5) Ease into it and sweeten it up.
While I don’t normally recommend using too much fruit in a juice or smoothie, a sweeter drink can help to ease your child into it. At first, make the drinks with two or three servings of fruit or sweet veggies (carrot, beet). In smoothies, bananas and berries are great for hiding bitter flavours, and cucumbers and celery have mild flavours that blend well into any juice or smoothie. Blend it well and consider diluting it with a bit of filtered water so the flavour isn’t as strong and it’s easier to drink. Gradually change the ratio to more greens and less fruit, until you eventually get it down to no more than one or two pieces of fruit in the juice or smoothie. Of course, this also depends on your child. If they are especially young or haven’t been exposed to a lot of sugar, they may not have developed a taste for sugar, in which case I’d recommend going ahead and starting without fruit to see how that goes.
Ready to get started? This family-approved green drink recipe will help your kids to eat vegetables:
RECIPE: Green Watermelon Smoothie
This refreshing smoothie is the perfect summer hydration for hot days. Loaded with electrolytes, magnesium, potassium, and a bit of calcium and protein, it doesn’t get any healthier – or tastier! This recipe makes the perfect alternative to my green go-go juice in the mornings or that much-needed 4pm pick-me-up for the kids. Try freezing it into popsicle moulds for the kids for an added element of fun!
You can even add a bit of spirits to make a fabulous cocktail (but I didn’t say that!)
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 small organic cucumber
- 2 cups frozen watermelon
- 2-3 Kale leaves (organic preferable)
- 1/2 a lime
- 5 leaves of fresh mint
Blend all and serve. Add ice to chill.