How I Got My Kids to Eat (and Like) Kale
Despite warnings of a global kale shortage, I honestly don’t think the leafy green is going anywhere. Sure, it’s the ‘it’ ingredient of the day, but I personally know a lot of people who still aren’t sure what to do with it and how to cook it, so other than the die-hard foodies and folks who are health conscious, I’m not sure everyone is eating kale at the rate we’re told to believe they are.
I can say with 100% honesty that my kids like kale, and like most kids they also love pizza, mac and cheese, and chocolate cake. They eat kale now because I’ve been rigorous about adding it to our meals, and though it took a while to get them on board with it, they devour it easily now.
If you’re curious, here’s how I got my kids to eat (and like) kale:
- When I first started buying kale regularly, I would pull the leaves from the stems and chop it so finely that it resembled parsley. We have a small backyard vegetable garden so I would add my minced kale to pretty much every dish, and when the kids asked about the green stuff I told them it was ‘just like the herbs in the garden.’ They didn’t bat an eye about that so I added it to soups, pastas, and I used it as a garnish on a variety of other dishes.
- Once we were eating kale (as an ‘herb’) for a while, I started replacing spinach (something my kids were always okay with) with the new leafy green. I had been using finely chopped spinach in soups, frittatas, and pasta sauces, so the swap was a natural one, and again no one seemed to mind.
- By this time, kale chips had become a popular thing, and naturally I assumed my boys would like them. Boy, was I wrong. They detested them. I tried seasoning them, making them crispier, making them less crispy, adding extra salt, and even grated Parmesan cheese, but there was no convincing them. Despite my kids’ disdain for the kale chip, I definitely think that’s the next natural step to getting kids to enjoy kale. Try serving it as an after school snack, or alongside a hamburger for dinner.
- Once the kale is fairly present at the table, it’s easy to build from there. I started subbing kale in for salad greens, and began with one of the most family-friendly varieties: the Caesar salad. This was a great success, and as long as the leaves had some time to marinate in the dressing (30 minutes is about right) to soften them, they lapped up this salad just like the regular Caesar salads they’d been eating for years.
- Now I buy two large heads of kale a week and we go though both before the week is over. I make a huge pot of soup with sausage, beans, and kale each week, and a few salads seem to take care of the remainder. The boys also LOVE these turkey and kale enchiladas and this chicken and kale pizza bake.
Do you serve kale regularly? Do your kids like it? What’s your favourite way to serve it?