Kids in the Kitchen Veggies Week: Dinners that Get Kids Cooking (and eating!) Greens
Brought to you by The Six O’Clock Scramble online family meal planning service.
When I started this series on cooking with kids with Aviva, she asked what kinds of recipes I’d want her to share with readers of Creative With Kids, and I quickly thought recipes that include preparing veggies, as I know that one of the things that influences my kids to try things is when they’ve helped make it themselves.
Week 3 – Beginning Cooking with Kids: Cook with Veggies
We’re cooking each week with kids to teach them important skills that will bring them health and enjoyment for the rest of their lives. If you’re just getting started cooking with kids, you may want to start with on of these:
- What cooking basics do kids need? – Our Top 10 Basics to make it easy to cook with kids
- Get Started by Making Snacks Together – Healthy and Easy Ideas for Kids to Learn Cooking Skills
This week let’s get kids in the kitchen cooking and eating some veggies!
Don’t Fear the Greens!
By Avia Goldfarb – the Six O’Clock Scramble Online Family Meal Planner
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard repeatedly how nutritious leafy greens are. Greens like kale, Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens and arugula are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Additionally, they have lots of fiber, which helps to keep you full and to “keep things moving along”. Although you’re open-minded about incorporating more of these nutritional powerhouses into your diet, are you concerned that the little ones in your house may be a bit more skeptical?
Enter a recipe that is likely to change your kid’s minds. Starting with the fun title, the meal will introduce greens to mealtime in a delicious, non-threatening way.
Gnocchi Dokey combines small fluffy potato dumplings with Swiss chard and results in a tasty, comforting meal.
Something else that will make the greens in this meal less mysterious for your kids is to involve them in the preparation of the dish. We’ve listed below in bold text the steps your kids can help with.
Gnocchi Dokey (Gnocchi with Greens)
Prep + Cook = 20 minutes
6 servings, about 1 3/4 cups
Gnocchi (pronounced nyo-key) is a great alternative to pasta, as it has more fiber and a really rich feel even though it’s fat free. Serve with roasted parsnips or carrots.
- 16 oz. gnocchi (potato dumplings, sold with fresh or dried pastas or frozen)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (Kids can measure this and add it to the pan)
- 2 tsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves) (Kids can peel the garlic, and possibly crush in a garlic press)
- 1 head Swiss chard (10 – 12 oz.), or use fresh spinach or kale, coarsely chopped (Kids can chop chard with a knife or kitchen shears with your supervision)
- 15 oz. diced tomatoes, partially drained (Kids can use a can opener to open the can)
- 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (Kids can shred the cheese if it’s not already shredded)
Cook the gnocchi according to package directions and drain it. (If you purchased gnocchi that gets boiled, have your kids fill the pot with water.) (Meanwhile, prepare the parsnips, if you are serving them.)
Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and sauté it for about 1 minute until it is golden. (Let the kids smell the garlic as it’s cooking and let you know when they think it’s reached a nice golden color.)
Add the Swiss chard (or other greens) and sauté, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes.
Cover pan and steam greens for 5-8 minutes until the gnocchi goes in the boiling water (Note: If you are using spinach or other delicate greens, steam them for only 2-3 minutes).
Add the tomatoes and salt (optional) to the greens (your kids can do this) and simmer them for 2 – 3 minutes, uncovered. Add the cooked gnocchi to the skillet or combine everything in a large metal serving bowl and top it with the cheese.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
Do Ahead or Delegate: Cook the gnocchi and store tossed with a little oil to prevent sticking, peel the garlic, chop the Swiss chard, shred the Parmesan cheese if necessary and refrigerate it, or fully prepare and refrigerate the dish.
Tip: If you’re looking for a way to use up greens like Swiss chard, spinach or kale, they make a colorful, low calorie and healthy addition to eggs, soups, grains and smoothies like this Green Detox Smoothie.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes to the pan with the garlic, and add 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar to the pan with the Swiss chard.
Side Dish suggestion:
Cut the parsnips and/or carrots lengthwise into halves or quarters (depending on their size) and cut those strips into 1-inch pieces. In a roasting pan, toss the pieces with the oil, salt and pepper (add ½ – 1 tsp. fresh thyme, if desired). (Kids can measure the oil, salt and pepper and toss everything together.) Roast them at 450 degrees until they are lightly browned, 15-20 minutes, tossing once. The longer they cook, the sweeter they become.
3 More Veggie-full Dinners that are Fun to Make With Kids:
- Quichlettes – great for breakfast or dinner
- Make a Fabulous Salad (Alissa’a note – the kids and I enjoy making “Top Chef Salad” – we put out all the ingredients and everyone makes their own combination and we try to make them look pretty like we’re on a show. I think we’d all be sent home from the actual show, but it’s fun 😉
For tons other delicious recipes that incorporate greens and other healthy ingredients into meals in a kid-friendly way, check out The Six O’Clock Scramble. The Scramble is a time, money (and sanity!) saver for busy parents. It takes the Scramble out of 6:00 by giving people an easy, online meal planning and grocery shopping system, along with fail-proof, family-friendly recipes.
Now is a great time to give The Scramble a try. In January, they are offering a New Year’s special— anyone who signs up for a free trial will receive 3 bonus E-books. Click here to start your free trial now.
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This is a very helpful series. We always believe in the importance of getting the kids involved in cooking their own meals. That way they learn more about the right food for them to eat.
Miguel A Vargas