One challenge that I’ve come across in feeding Tyson and trying develop his relationship with Real Food, is how to incorporate green leafy veggies into his diet.
It’s becoming more and more clear that “green leafies” are some of the healthiest foods out there. I’m talking about kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach, beet greens, watercress, bok choy, herbs such as parsley and basil and even broccoli. Here’s why:
- They are very high in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and lutein, which help to combat free radicals in the body.
- They are full of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Did you know that 1 cup of cooked collard greens actually contains more calcium than 1 cup of milk? Some recent studies also suggest that the absorption rate of calcium is higher in leafy greens than in dairy products.
- They contain high levels of protein and fibre – they help fill you up and control blood sugar.
- They are a concentrated source of phytonutrients (natural compounds found in plants that help protect its vitality). When we eat them, we are reducing our risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
All of these benefits packed into a lovely green package (the darker the green, the better in fact). So of course I want to get as many leafy greens into Tyson as possible – not an easy challenge with a 14-month old!
Now to be clear, I’m a big believer that we need to help kids learn to love Real Food in its original form. It is important for them to recognize different fruits and vegetables and appreciate the variety of flavours they offer. When Tyson was younger, I would simply puree things like kale or spinach and he would eat them right up. Now that he is eating more finger foods, he is not interested in pureed greens (do you blame him?) And outside of broccoli (which he gobbles up), steamed greens are tough for him to eat and I know that some parents worry about choking when it comes to the leafy texture.
So, until he is old enough (and has the teeth) to start eating salads and steamed kale, I get those nutritious leafy greens into him by sneakily incorporating them into other foods.
I love starting the day with greens, so I came up with this simple way to mix those greens into a breakfast staple.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
1 handful of leafy greens*
splash of milk or milk alternative
1. Crack eggs into blender or magic bullet.
2. Add greens and milk.
3. Blend until greens are mixed in – about 1 minute.
4. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook, scraping bottom frequently with a heatproof spatula, until just set (2-3 minutes)
6. Transfer to a bowl and serve when cooled.
*There are so many delicious leafy green options to choose from. It’s also a great way to use up those leftover leafy herbs in your fridge!
Eggs are one of Tyson’s favourite foods – he absolutely LOVES them and eats two whole eggs by himself when we have them for breakfast. With the green eggs you can’t even taste the greens (except if you use a herb) so he didn’t notice when I started doing this. In fact, the other day I didn’t have any greens to add (oh the horror!) so his eggs were the normal yellow colour, and he actually seemed a bit suspicious of them!
Preparing the green eggs only takes an extra 2 minutes – totally do-able for busy moms who are trying to get breakfast on the table quickly. Another green-ifying option would be to just mix in some already prepared kale pesto once the eggs are cooked.
So now you have one easy way to make sure you baby is getting some green goodness into their diet. Green eggs are also a fun recipe idea for older kids on St. Patrick’s Day.
As for the ham, I would definitely recommend leaving it out of your baby’s diet. Besides the fact that it is highly processed, most deli meats contain an abundant amount of sodium and cancer-forming preservatives such as nitrites. Yuck – not Real Food at all!
Have you ever tried to “sneak” something healthy into your child’s meal? Do you think this is the right thing to do?
For some great nutritional informaton on eggs, check out Mandy’s post.