Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kale recipes (or how I got my kids to eat - and love - kale).

My boys are kale addicts. Addicts, I tell you.

They love it. Beg me to buy it. Plead with me to cook with it. Jump for joy when we talk about growing it in the garden. Addicts.

And I couldn't be happier.

I love that the boys love kale because kale is a rockin' good food -- loaded with vitamins A, C, and K (among others), and full of  fiber, iron, calcium, and even a little protein. But, you know, it is a little weird. I mean, kale? Have you looked at it lately? Doesn't jump out as a #1 kid favorite.

So, how, you may wonder, did we get here? How did I turn my little guys into kale lovers?

The answer is: A little olive oil, some salt and a waaaaaaay too enthusiastic mama.

I started out all low key, nonchalantly introducing kale to the kids one day. "Oh, hey. This is a funny vegetable," I said while putting the groceries away. Of course, Conal wanted to know what it was. "Oh, just kale." 

And I left it at that.

His curiosity got the better of him and soon he wanted to know what kale was for. "Oh, man. Well, I love it. I mean, I could eat it all the time. I like to make chips out of kale. And other things. But, I'll probably make chips this time and eat them all myself."

The boy took that as a challenge. No way was he going to let me eat the chips all by myself.

"You want to help make them?"

Of course he did. And so we made kale chips. Easy peasy:

Kale Chips

1 head of kale
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Peel the kale off the stalks, breaking it into pieces as you do:

Wash thoroughly. Dry as well as you can. Spread kale pieces on a baking sheet (you'll probably need two). Drizzle olive oil over the kale and rub it into the kale pieces. Sprinkle with salt. 

Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes (depending on how stuffed your baking sheet is).  Check the chips often, to make sure they haven't burned and to stir. They'll shrivel up quite a bit: 

When they are crisp, take them out and eat 'em up! 

If you're lucky, you might get to enjoy a few -- my kids eat at least half of them within the first few minutes of taking them out of the oven.

I also use kale in lots of other dinner recipes. One of my boys' favorites is rotini with kale and carrots:

I simply saute sliced carrots and kale in a little olive oil while I boil the pasta. When the pasta is still firm, I add it to the vegetables, along with a half cup of chicken broth. I let that boil down for about 5 minutes and that's it. I serve it with a little shredded pecorino romano and the kids love it.

Seriously. They eat all the kale before the even start on the pasta. 

And then they ask for more. Of the kale.

And that's how I did it, that's how I created little kale lovers. If you want to get your kids to love -- or maybe just try -- kale (or any other vegetable, really), my advice is to start with a kid-friendly recipe, like the kale chips. Do not give your kids any indication whatsoever that the vegetable is weird, or that they might not like it. In fact, just act cool, like the vegetable is no big deal at all.

Once you've hooked them, expand the recipes you make with the vegetable. If you don't meet with success the first time, though, don't give up! Be cool and keep trying!

Enjoy your kale, everyone!

~ Felice


Dani @ Run Daniella Run! said...

I love Kale! Kale chips are one of my favorite snacks for sure :)

Julie D said...

Cute! I hope my one-day kids like kale... I should cook it more often to start!

Bridget said...

I have to admit that I have never bought kale. Or eaten it. Ever.

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

I don't think I've ever tried kale, but I know I love olive oil. I'll have to remember this next time I go to the store.

Angela @ Happy Fit Mama said...

My kids will eat kale chips. I add a little nutritional yeast to it to give it a little cheesy kick, too. I'm so glad they love it because I love it!

Marlene said...

Genius! I wonder if this works on husbands...

Fitposse said...

What a fantastic way to build healthy eating habits! Kale is a little intimidating, so if olive oil and a good attitude can make your kids love it, what food can't they help?

Meaghan said...

Great recipe ideas! I am actually hosting a kale linky party at http://www.2sisters2cities.com/2012/06/kale_recipes/ as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!


Unknown said...

Fantastic!! Kids love this pasta recipe very much. Even I love pasta. Its mouth watering recipe. Great ideas for the recipes for kids. ...

Nicolette/Nikki/Nik/N said...

Could I make these without any oil?

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