There’s no science to getting kids to eat their greens. If there was a pill or magic wand that would make every little one eagerly eat their verdant veggies, I can almost guarantee that every parent would want to get their hands on one.
Why do some kids shun many green foods? Here’s one explanation from an article I came across which may offer some insight:
“It may help to recognize that we’re born preferring sweet tastes; we have to learn to like everything else…some sour or bitter substances are poisonous or inedible but very few sweet tasting things are. Hundreds of thousands of years ago our prehistoric ancestors who ate sour or bitter things were more likely to perish, those who ate only sweet things were more likely to survive. Liking sweet tastes was a survival mechanism.”
This was passed on to us and reveals itself even more in kids, who have as many as 10,000 tastebuds — significantly more than adults — and as a result, bitter foods, such as some greens like collards, kale, and asparagus, can taste significantly more bitter to them.
Through the years, I’ve devised all kinds of strategies for inspiring my own kids to want to eat their greens, without having to resort to sneaking or hiding them in dishes or bargain with them in order to consume them.
Green Ice Pops, Green Apple Juice and Spinach Cake Muffins are among Kenya and Chloe’s green-rich afternoon snack favorites, and Green Machine Pizza and Green Mac and Cheese are also mealtime go-to’s. However, on a night when I’m serving something like salmon or chicken, I like to get my greens in with these Sautéed Collard Greens. With the help of my friend and gardening guru Lauri, we started growing nutrient packed collard greens in our garden years ago, and since they grow like weeds, we always have plenty of them on hand for recipes like this one. Sautéed with a smokey piece of bacon and a few cloves of garlic, the collards remain emerald green after cooking and are truly irresistible.
Who knew going green could be this easy and delicious? Just ask your little ones after they try this recipe!
Simple Sauteed Collard Greens
- 1 slice thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the bacon in a sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes to render as much fat as possible.
- While the bacon is cooking, remove the stems from the collard greens, and thinly slice the leaves across.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the greens and salt, stir well to coat the greens with the bacon fat, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until wilted, stirring occasionally. If you like them softer, cook for 10 minutes.
That sounds really good too. Thanks for variation!
I think you could substitute any chicken/turkey/lamb sausage instead.
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I made this w/ cubed pancetta and chard. My best eater scarfed it up. She has been demanding to know when we are having it again. It’s going on next week’s menu for sure!
I made this last night and it was a complete hit wit my 4-year-old. We do not do pork, so I subbed finely diced kalamata olives. We had some extra greens an onion and cruciferous veggies that I threw in – as well, I added some veggie broth I needed to use up. We will make again and again. Thanks!
I have been doing mine this way for years! it is soo yummy! Works great with spinach, kale, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, turnip/collard greens,and chard. pretty much any leafy green. throw in a splash of rice wine vinegar too for a sweet but sour taste. Love your recipes!
Can I substitute bacon with something else? We don’t eat bacon. Thanks
Ha ha!! I have to say this is so funny. partly because there was a recent Parks n Rec episode featuring chard, and they said something like “it’s like spinach took a crap on kale.” or something to that effect (they were joking, of course!). anyway i do love these leafy greens but there’s no way my toddler or pre-schooler will eat them. I am able to get my 4-yo to eat kale or chard in a chicken soup, but i think the sautee still leaves it a bit too crunchy/chewy/rubbery and “real” for him to take. i do love your other clever ways of cooking up greens!
Both my kids like bacon so maybe they will like this! 🙂