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I don’t know why children have such an aversion to green vegetables.  There is some ingrained psychological disease that manifests somewhere around 18-20 months and seems to take years to wear off.  I had no problem serving spinach, peas and all delightful shades of verde to my munchkins until that dreaded age…

They are starting to come back around, and thankfully!  This spring, the weather has been so unpredictable, but regardless, our farmer’s market has been overflowing with kale, spinach, asparagus, arugula, and brussel sprouts.  I’m still hunting for sneaky ways to integrate more greens into our meals and here’s a few examples of why…

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! It has abnormally high levels of fiber for being a simple leaf, as well as high levels of Vitamin A and readily absorbable calcium.  In fact, for those that are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies, kale is an excellent source of natural calcium. (Keep in mind, calcium is not the only beneficial component in milk, and kale is not a perfect replacement, but a great place to start) Want some beta carotene? Grab some kale instead of carrots because it contains more beta carotene when compared gram for gram.

Spinach is a cousin to quinoa, and is also listed as one of the world’s healthiest vegetables! It is also high in vitamins A, K and C,  iron, magnesium, beta carotene, lutein, and flavonoids.

Dandelion greens, although unsightly and annoying, are incredibly nutritious and have healing properties!  They are rich in vitamin A, potassium, B vitamins, calcium and fiber.  They are known for being a gentle, cleansing herb/food and they’re used to re-balance upset digestive tracts.

These are just a few examples, but they pack a HUGE nutritional bang for your buck.  Plus, it’s easier to sneak some spinach into a meal than it is to hide brussel sprouts…

Now…here’s the kicker…and if you’re a Raw Foods advocate, please don’t hate me, but PLEASE COOK your cruciferous veggies!  Before they are cooked, they contain naturally occurring chemicals that BLOCK thyroid production! Hypothyroidism is reaching epidemic proportions, and our nutritional levels SIGNIFICANTLY effect how severely we will struggle with the symptoms.  Please don’t block what little thyroid function you DO have, and cook your veggies in butter for optimum nutritional value and absorption. 

There is an overabundance of green leafy veggies and cruciferous plants right now as we are nearing the end of spring, so how can we use them to their fullest extent? (translated: what will my kids eat?)

Here are a few of my favorite recipes from around the world wide web, as well as one of my own new favorite dishes.

Kale Chips (she has several variations on her site and these are SO addictive!  My 6 and 4 year olds ate an entire batch one afternoon!  They’re so good, the color didn’t even bother them! Hallelujah!)

Green Soup (I love Katy’s recipe and its a great soup for those spring nights that are still breezy enough for a light soup.  Despite its appearance, it’s incredibly yummy and my kids decided it was a “keeper”! Thanks Katy!)

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon + Mustard Dressing. (oh be still my heart!  Yes, this defies the “cooking cruciferous veggies” rule, but simply allow the spinach leaves to sit in the warm dressing for 2-3 minutes until they start to wilt and that will do the trick.

Green Smoothies. a.maz.ing.  You don’t taste the green at all!  I typically saute extra greens for a dinner recipe and save some in a small bowl for the next morning’s smoothie!

Also, here are a few more tricks for sneaking in green veggies:

  • saute them with a stir fry
  • slip them under the cheese on a pizza
  • turn them into a pesto and serve over pasta
  • when making grilled cheese, add some greens to the inside while grilling
  • puree cooked/wilted green and mix into stocks, soups, spaghetti sauce and even mayo for a sandwich topping
  • turn your left over green smoothies into a popsicle
  • starting with 1/4 c. of sautéed, pureed greens, add them to a chocolate cake/cupcake mix and see if your kids can even tell!

Here’s our newest family addiction!  Creamed spinach has gotten a bad rap over the years, but I’m here to tell you to give it another try!  Don’t regress to thoughts of being forced to eat tasteless watery canned creamed spinach when you were 7 years old because this side dish will blow you away!  It’s so easy to prepare and we love it over scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast (or dinner!) dish!

Not Yo’ Mama’s Creamed Spinach

  • 5oz FRESH spinach (this is about 2 huge handfuls of fresh spinach, but you can start with smaller quantities and easily adjust)
  • 1-2 Tb. butter
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 c. shredded cheese blend (we use a blend of Asiago, Parmesan, and Mozzarella)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the spinach in butter, just until it’s starting to wilt.  Turn the heat to low and add in the heavy whipping cream and cheese.  Stir slowly and let it heat long enough to form small bubbles in the cream, then turn the heat off and let the cheese melt and the spinach wilt. Voila! A yummy side dish in less than 4 minutes!

This is EXCELLENT served with eggs and toast, served atop chicken or fish, over rice, with pasta, or as a dish all of its own!  enjoy!

What tips do you have for sneaking in some green?

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This post was linked at Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Fat Tuesdays at Real Food Forager, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Whole Foods Wednesday at Whole Lifestyle Nutrition, WLWW at Women Living Well, It’s a Keeper Thursday at Every Day Tastes, Simple Lives Thursday at Gnowfglins, Your Green Resource at Live Renewed, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom, Friday Food Flicks at Traditional Foods, Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health, Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, The Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morris Tribe, Seasonal Celebrations at Natural Mother’s Network

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