You’ve heard me say it before – Rose eats what we eat. Of course, this isn’t always possible, and one of the main conundrums has been dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach or chard. They are packed with nutritional benefits and a huge part of my diet, but they are hard for babies and toddlers to eat in the way I typically consume them, i.e. salads or lightly sautéed. Despite having a shocking number of teeth for a 17 month old (18!!), Rose does not yet have the grinding power to chow down on a kale salad. However, I still want greens to be a prominent component of her diet. This is important to me not only from a nutritional perspective, but also to lay the groundwork for a few years from now, when she is able to eat that kale salad, so the whole idea of greens won’t be foreign to her. My hope is that, by then, she will be more likely to try the salad and enjoy it.
Why are greens so important? They are incredibly rich sources of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A, C, E and K and magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. They are also rich in folate, fiber and antioxidants. They help strengthen the immune system, promote brain and liver function, improve blood circulation and prevent cancer, among other benefits. Such benefits are especially important for a growing child. Calorie-for-calorie, they are one of the most nutritionally dense foods out there. Because I am all about making every little bite count when it comes to Rose’s diet, I want greens to be a big part of Rose’s diet.
Below are the ways I incorporate greens into Rose’s diet, including a recipe for our favorite go-to green smoothie (great for kids and adults, alike!) and links to some of my other favorite recipes featuring greens.
Top Ways to Incorporate Greens into Toddler Meals
Creamy green smoothie – recipe below
Pestos – see my go-to pesto recipe here
Quesadillas – finely chopped, lightly sautéed and incorporated into the quesadilla filling
Soups and stews – finely chopped and tossed in for the last 5 minutes of cooking; this soup is great for babies
Frittata – see my go-to frittata recipe here
“Chips” – tossed with olive oil and seasonings of your choice (my favorites are pink Himalayan salt, pepper, turmeric and nutritional yeast); the key is to get them really crispy, almost on the verge of disintegrating, so they dissolve in your toddler’s mouth; bake at 325 for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally
I particularly love serving Rose smoothies, because they are a great opportunity to really pack in dark leafy greens and other superfoods into a convenient meal or snack. Rose goes crazy for smoothies! Practically every day she looks at me longingly and says “moo-die, moo-die” while furiously signing please. I usually oblige, because smoothies like the one below are so nourishing for her growing body.
To avoid a complete mess while serving your baby or toddler a smoothie, I highly recommend using a cup like the one pictured above that I use for Rose. I use this stainless steel toddler tumbler – nontoxic, unbreakable, and small enough for small, chubby hands. I top it with this silicone straw cover, which renders the cup nearly spill-proof. I pair it with these wide silicone straws (rather than the hard plastic straws the covers came with), which are nontoxic, flexible (to avoid injury) and wide enough to allow Rose to drink a thick smoothie. (I have also tried these silicone covers which already come with silicone straws, but I find the Boon covers to be superior).
What are your favorite ways to incorporate greens into your baby or toddler’s diet?Print