St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect moment to serve green vegetables to kids.
I’m not one for the habitual hiding of vegetables when feeding older kids. I feel like it sends the “vegetables taste bad and must be covered up” message, which, in the long run, might be harder to outgrow than common pickiness.
That said, it only makes sense to present green vegetables in ways that are palatable for reluctant vegie-eaters, especially young ones. Kids with taste- and texture sensitivities find new foods threatening, and offering a variety of gentle introductions can gradually move vegies to the “safe food” list.
The great thing about serving green vegetables on St. Patrick’s Day is that this is the one day every year when green anything is embraced and celebrated. No need to hide the green stuff! We want green food!
Here are a few ideas for green food your kids might gobble up on St. Patrick’s Day:
Green Eggs and Ham Casserole
This is Jill’s recipe, which first appeared here NINE years ago. Even cooler is that Jill’s still reading, commenting and sending in hacks. I love you, Jill!
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 to 1 cup chopped ham
1 cup finely chopped, frozen spinach (thawed, moisture squeezed out)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated swiss cheese
Spray an 8″ casserole dish with nonstick spray. Sprinkle in the dishwith breadcrumbs and ham. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with spinach, milk, mustard, salt & pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the casserole dish (over the breadcrumbs and ham). Top with cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until set.
You can go in the pasta-with-pesto direction (made with basil or spinach), or you can buy spinach pasta (tortellini and fettuccine are nice). Or both!
Green Macaroni and Cheese
Green macaroni and cheese deserves special mention given how many kids are willing to eat it. I like Stephanie’s approach: she makes green macaroni and cheese by cleverly blending the spinach into the macaroni cooking water.
Add spinach to fruit smoothies! There are a million green smoothie recipes, but I always trust Aviva Goldfarb, founder of The Scramble meal planning service. Her recipe for this Incredible Hulk Power Smoothie sounds delicious.
My friend Ilina Ewen‘s favorite green smoothie recipe is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in her family:
We make what we call “Leprechaun Smoothies.” Lime yogurt, kiwi, spinach, milk, pineapple juice.
Green Mashed Potatoes
When my son was in preschool, green mashed potatoes were the annual St. Patrick’s Day snack. Several of his potato-hating classmates gobbled them up. Easy: just stir finely chopped steamed broccoli into mashed potatoes.
My daughter likes her guacamole simple: mashed avocado, salt, and a splash of lemon juice. Serve with celery sticks to keep the green theme going. (Thanks for the reminder, Homa!)
Edamame (soybeans in the pod) have been the most popular vegetable in my house for years. I buy edamame in the frozen food section. Boil or steam them for five minutes, sprinkle with salt, and serve.
Roasted Broccoli or Asparagus
The best-tasting straight-up vegies are tossed with olive oil and kosher salt, then roasted in a hot oven. My kids will try just about any vegetable prepared this way (they especially love broccoli).
Here’s my recipe for roasted cauliflower — the preparation is the same, minus the curry powder.
Any other favorite green food recipes? Or suggestions for “greening” non-green food?
Here’s another fun way to encourage your kids to try green foods: conduct a green food taste test (complete with silly chart).