Kids & Nutrition: Getting them to eat greens


To get kids to eat more leafy greens, start with pasta, a food kids generally love, then add the greens. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post; tableware from Crate & Barrel)
May 14, 2013

Dark leafy greens, especially the typified kale, are enjoying their season in the spotlight. It’s about time! Leafy greens are now found on menus at high-end restaurants and even some fast-food joints. Families across the country are roasting kale, and these kale chips are now sold in many grocery stores. The green smoothie is a familiar sight, and T-shirts imprinted with “Eat More Kale” have drawn the attention of Chick-fil-A, which contends the buzzwords infringe on its slogan “Eat Mor Chikin.”

Amid all of this publicity, the message should be clear: Dark leafy greens are good for us. Greens are high in calcium and iron, among other minerals, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll.

So it isn’t surprising that parents constantly ask me how to encourage their kids to eat dark leafy greens. One of my regular suggestions is to start with pasta, a food kids generally love, then add the greens.

Instead of adding big leaves, which might deter a greens-adverse kid, chop a bunch of dark leafy greens into tiny pieces. We’ve all watched a large bag of spinach steam itself into almost nothing. The same holds true with other leafy greens, so these will shrink all the more when cooked. Even though I am not a fan of tricking our children into eating healthful food, it can work to our advantage that they have no idea just how many leafy greens they are consuming when they take a bite.

Start with a small handful of greens (spinach, arugula and Swiss chard, for example) to help familiarize your child with the flavor of sauteed greens, then add more each time you make the recipe.

Then hopefully someday our kids, and perhaps their entire generation, will agree that we should all Eat More Greens and less Chick-fil-A.

Casey Seidenberg’s pasta with leeks and greens

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a District-based nutrition education company.

Casey Seidenberg is the co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company.
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