Kale and kids are a cool combination

Kale and kids can be a great combination. Give this great tasting and versatile vegetable a try.

Kale and kids – probably not two words you’d naturally put together. However, now is a great time to give the combination a try.  Kale is in season in the winter and easily found in grocery stores or possibly year round farmers markets. Get the kids involved in picking out a good-looking bunch at the store, washing it and tearing it up at home.  Depending on your recipe and age of your child, they can help cook it too.

Kale is a great tasting and versatile food, especially when it’s prepared in a kid-friendly fashion. Finger foods and beverages are forms of food that kids enjoy and can relate to.  Often times kids are more drawn to foods that are bright in color or that have some texture or crunch to them. And who doesn’t like to eat foods that are fun?  Sometimes the fun factor simply comes down to the name, like calling broccoli little trees or referring to a snack mix of cereal, nuts and seeds squirrel feed.  Schools interested in upping their offering of leafy greens, and using local or seasonal produce through farm to school programs, have jumped on board with kale, often making foods like kale chips or kale smoothies. Both are quick and easy to put together.

The kale smoothie is simple. In a blender, place a quarter-cup water, a half-cup low-fat vanilla yogurt and one leaf of kale ripped off of the thick stem and spine. Blend on highest speed until you have a green cream with no visible bits of leaves. Peel one banana and break into smaller pieces then add it to the blender.  Blend this combination until smooth. If desired, add one half-cup of frozen berries and blend one last time.  Many people like the addition of berries, but it mutes the bright green color.  This makes a thick drink, so if you’d like it smoother add additional water, milk or orange juice. Go ahead and call it something fun – green slime or maybe a “Shrek” smoothie.

For kale chips preheat the oven to 350O. Thoroughly wash one bunch of kale and dry well.  Rip or chop the kale into bite size pieces and place into a bowl. Lightly coat the kale with cooking spray oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese or sesame seeds. Toss the kale until the oil and topping until all is well dispersed. Spread the kale onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until crispy.  What kind of silly name can you come up with?  Better yet, let the kids create a name.

If you too get on a kale kick, Diana Dyer, Michigan dietitian, author and farmer has a blog devoted to it. Additionally, be sure and check out the fruits and veggies more matters website for more winter seasonal produce and tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen. In these winter months, it’s easy to think there aren’t  many options when it comes to fruits and vegetables.  Don’t forget that canned, dried and frozen fruits and vegetables all count towards you and your family’s daily recommended intake.

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