Can Green Tea Help Kids Eat their Veggies?

Don’t you wish there was a magic wand you could wave over healthy food to make it irresistible to your kids?? (Who am I kidding — I want it for me, too!) Like most kids, mine go through phases of loving and detesting the same foods, usually going to ‘gross!’ just after I’ve stocked up on it… and their tastes run more to crackers and bread than green vegetables and quality proteins. Still, every once in a while, I run across a new way to tempt them into eating the best foods. Who would have thought that that my littles would love sprinkling green tea and smoky paprika on broccoli, and then roasting it until it starts to blacken on the edges? Here are my Top 3 Tips to help them make healthier choices (and they pass my taste-test, too!)

1. Bring on the Umami sprinkle! Matcha or Sencha mixed in equal proportions with smoked Spanish Paprika (look for Vera Pimenton on the label for the best flavor) and natural sea salt makes any roasted or steamed vegetable taste savory and delicious. For vegetarians, this spice mix brings all the full flavors of bacon, without the moral conundrums or health risks! Kids love the rich and smoky-salty combination.

2. Add a dose of antioxidants and fiber to baked goods: Sencha (½ – 1 tsp), finely ground flax seeds (2-3 Tb) and ground toasted nuts (½ cup) can be added to most recipes for muffins or quick breads without sacrificing texture or flavor. Almonds or walnuts have the most antioxidants, but any nuts or seeds will increase healthy oils, fiber, and nutrients. This trick works with ‘boxed’ muffins, scones, and quick breads, too. It’s a great way to reduce the blood sugar impact of gluten-free baking mixes, which tend to use lots of white rice flour.

3. Quick-pickling veggies: Cucumber spears, carrot coins, and even celery can be marinated overnight in a dish of seasoned vinegar in the fridge. I use prepared ‘Sushi Vinegar’ which is just rice vinegar with salt and sugar added (you can make your own!) My kids love sour tastes, and will eat up a plate of the pickles if I set it out while dinner is cooking. Bonus – I don’t have to nag them to eat their veggies at dinner, because they already did!

Crispy Kale Chips with Umami Sprinkle

1 bunch of kale (any type, we prefer lacinato)

1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Umami Sprinkle: ½ tsp each of Sencha or Matcha powder, Spanish Smoked Paprika, and sea salt

Wash and pat dry the kale leaves. Tear into 2”- 3” pieces, and toss in a bowl with the olive oil until coated on all sides. Arrange the kale leaves on a baking sheet, and sprinkle thoroughly with Umami Sprinkle. Bake at 300° F for 10 – 15 minutes, until crisp. Watch carefully so they do not blacken. Remove and allow to cool a bit before serving. By the way, I don’t recommend ‘hiding’ things that kids don’t like in their food – you may turn them off to things they used to like, and besides, it’s not nice to trick people! However, I don’t go out of my way to point out the extras I add in – just serve them up with a smile. 

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