Getting Your Kids to Eat Spinach
Kids don’t care about spinach the way we care about spinach.
We know that spinach is considered a nutritional powerhouse and a recommended SuperFood. Spinach is also in the nutritional spotlight these days for all the right reasons. It’s not only chock full of nutrients like iron and vitamins A and C; but it also contains powerful phytochemicals (pronounced “fight-o-chemicals”). Phytochemicals are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color, protect them from diseases, and protect people from diseases as well. It’s easy to remember, think phytochemicals “fight” for our good health.
But kids don’t care about that.
Spinach also contains phytochemicals called lutein (loo-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-x-an-thin), which are in the carotenoid family. They protect the body from macular degeneration, the single biggest cause of blindness in older people. These carotenoids are also associated with lowering the risk for certain types of cancers. It’s been found that the more spinach consumed, the lower the risk of almost every type of cancer.
Again, kids don’t care. This could be a problem, because we want our children to reap the benefits spinach has to offer. But how on earth can we get them to eat it when their friends, TV shows, and (possibly) bad preparation have made them think it’s gross?
Don’t tell your kids, but spinach can be one of the top kid friendly veggies. Here’s how:
- Use tender baby spinach.
It has a milder flavor and is more kid friendly than the larger variety.
- Use it in place of lettuce.
Try placing a few leaves in a sandwich instead of regular lettuce, chop it into shreds and use it in tacos, wrap a piece around your child’s favorite cheese, add whole leaves to vegetable soup or chop it finely if it needs to go unnoticed.
- Make a combo Caesar salad.
Use half spinach and half dark green romaine lettuce so they don’t notice it in there.
- Shred it into pasta or layer it on pizza.
Spinach hides well in red sauce, and bakes beautifully on top of pizza. Enlist the kids to decorate a pizza with spinach and watch their enthusiasm grow. All they need are spinach leaves and scissors and your pizza will soon have flowers, faces, and even spiky hair. Their imaginations are limitless.
- Revive a spinach salad with colorful sweet fruit.
A few great combinations are mango with red grapes and nectarines, or peaches with blueberries. Be sure to cut the fruit into small pieces so your child gets some in every bite. Kids are more inclined to eat spinach salad if it’s slight intrinsic bitterness is offset with the sweet fruit.
- Add a salad dressing made with fruit.
This is sure to entice even the most stubborn eaters.
- Make pesto with spinach and extra virgin olive oil.
So call on your creative powers and begin slipping in spinach wherever possible and know that your kids are eating a real power food. Where’s Popeye, that great old spinach guzzling role model, when we need him?