Every mom who has ever tried to "clean up" their family's diet by adding more vegetables has been faced with this dilemma. How do I get them to eat something really healthful like spinach when they wrinkle their noses and refuse before they've even tasted it? I have found that starting with raw greens often works better than with cooked. It is a textural thing.
Learning to be sneaky with vegetables is a good way to get children to try things they would normally make a fuss over. Some simple ways to do this are: putting raw greens in smoothies (such as this recipe), adding shredded vegetables to casseroles like lasagna, kneading shredded vegetables into meatloaf or meatballs, baking shredded vegetables into muffins and tea breads and juicing vegetables with fruits. The key to being successful to being persistent! Don't give up because you meet resistance.
Gradually, try making the transition from "hiding" the vegetables in other foods to introducing them a little less disguised. For instance; serving raw zucchini sticks with a healthful dip, making a game out juicing by letting kids pick from four, five or six different colors and letting them drop the produce into the juicer, giving them positive praise for trying something new (even if they didn't like it). Never bribe a child with unhealthy snacks to get them to eat vegetables. That rather defeats the purpose of eating the healthy food in the first place.
This smoothie got it's name from a friend of mine whose three year old son is not crazy about spinach. I had prepared this vitamin and mineral packed concoction for a cooking demonstration a couple of years ago. The audience became a little skittish when they saw great, heaping piles of spinach going into the blenders. I assured them all would be well; no one would be drinking a salad! To the amazement of the entire group; the bright, grass green drink was sweet and delicious without a hint of the taste of raw spinach. My friend went home and prepared the drink for her son and informed him it was "the Incredible Hulk" smoothie because of it's verdant color. The child promplty chugged the drink without a whimper!
I have decided to share the recipe with my readers. I hope you will give it a try. Note: My recipe uses raw almond milk which I prepare at home. This is a simple process that can be done ahead. Raw almond milk will keep for about four days in the refrigerator. Soak one cup of raw organic almonds overnight in purified drinking water. In the morning, discard the water and place the almonds in the blender. Pour in one cup of fresh water and blend until crushed into small pieces. Fill the blender the rest of the way with purified drinking water and blend on high for 2 minutes. Place a colander or wire strainer on the rim of a bowl and line with a clean, white organic cotton towel or a nut bag (sold online or in health food stores expressly for this purpose). Pour contents of blender into the cloth. When all of the visible liquid has drained out; twist the cloth tightly closed around the ball of nut meal. Squeeze this until you cannot get any more liquid. Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator. If you do not have the time or interest to make raw almond milk; commercially prepared almond milk is available. Just take care to purchase the unsweetened variety as the others contain unnecessary sugar.
Here is The Incredible Hulk Smoothie. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups raw or commercially prepared unsweetened almond milk
1 large banana
1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder of choice *optional
2 large handfuls of washed, stemmed raw spinach (about a cup of packed leaves)
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen mango chunks
Pour almond milk into the blender container and add the banana and protein powder (if using).
Process until banana is pureed and powder is dissolved.
Toss in raw spinach and blend until broken down. You may need to open blender and push down with a spatula a couple of times. It is not necessary for all the "flecks" to be blended away at the time.
Begin adding frozen mango chunks a few at a time. As the frozen fruit is broken down, this will smooth out the small flecks of spinach. Continue adding mango until desired consistency and flavor are achieved. This usually takes about 1 1/2 - 2 cups.
At this point the smoothie will be a bright, homogeneous green with no "pieces". This recipe makes two large servings.
S. Jill Anderson is the owner/creator of The Homegrown Gourmet; a Orlando, FL based business that offers catering, menu planning, cooking demonstrations and classes with a focus on organic, non-processed foods. For more information about services and contact please visit http://thehomegrowngourmet.com/
Follow our blog, "Living Green With The Homegrown Gourmet at thehomegrowngourmet
Ms. Anderson is also the Consulting/Executive Chef for local Orlando, FL. cooperative, Get Green Organics Inc.
Author of "The Homegrown Gourmet Cooks for the Vegan", "The Homegrown Gourmet Cooks for the Vegetarian", and "The Homegrown Gourmet Cooks for Everyone."