St. Patrick might have worn a shamrock on his shirt, but the greens in his belly were more likely to give him the luck, and good health, of the Irish. Here are five kid-friendly recipes for green veggies that even your little leprechauns could celebrate.

If we are to feed our kids a rainbow of veggies, then consider the green ones to be the pot of gold on the other side.

From spinach to snap peas, green veggies pack a range of vitamins and nutrients that support healthy growth, brain function and stable moods. Green vegetables also boost immunity, to protect kids from illnesses and heal their scratched knees faster.

In short, greens are a wholesome trinity for kid health: dense with nutrients, free of unnecessary calories and versatile as heck. Broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts and asparagus carry folic acid, which has been shown to improve memory. Peas and lima beans contain iron, important for producing red blood cells. And leafy greens include the bonus nutrients of vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, the latter of which aid metabolism, muscle development and bone health.

Too bad that when it comes to greens, our kids can become devilish little leprechauns. (We’ve all experienced their mischievous feats of veggie avoidance and pulled limp veggies from soiled pockets.)

But with good recipes, and yes a little luck, we can help kids acquire a taste for veggies. It takes time and understanding – kids have three times as many taste buds as adults and certain foods, including veggies, can be overwhelming. So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve searched for kid-friendly ways to prepare greens and unearthed these five treasures. We hope they are worth their weight in gold at your table.

Macaroni with Pea Pesto

This recipe, from Jessica Seinfeld’s “Double Delicious,” requires just five ingredients for the pesto, and no veggie chopping!

What you need:

  • 2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat macaroni (penne or fusilli)

What you do:

For the pesto, blanch the peas in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in ice-cold water. Combine the peas and remaining ingredients (up to the chicken) in a food processor. Blend to form a thick sauce.

Season the chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet set on medium. Brown each side of the chicken for about 5 to 6 minutes per side (until cooked through). Cool and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Strain, toss with the pesto and chicken and serve. It’s Erin go easy-peasy!

Veggie Tart

We adopted this savory recipe from Delish, attracted by its versatility and the yummy word “tart.” Use asparagus, shredded Brussels sprouts or whatever greens you have on hand.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (optional)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 8 asparagus spears (if large spears, use fewer and cut crosswise)
  • 1 pre-made piecrust

What you do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil at medium-high. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add onion, bell pepper and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook until softened and browned, stirring frequently (about 4 minutes; if using spinach, add after about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool. Mixture can be refrigerated up to overnight.

While mixture cools, combine cream cheese, basil, and an additional 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; stir. Separately, peel the zucchini lengthwise into thin ribbons. Cut thick asparagus spears lengthwise to reduce width.

Lay the piecrust out on a jellyroll pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly, leaving a 1-inch border. Add the onion-pepper mixture over the cream cheese. Next, arrange the zucchini ribbons and asparagus on top in a pattern. Fold the edge of the dough over the vegetable mix. Brush the remaining teaspoon of oil over the zucchini and asparagus.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until browned. The magic of this crusted creation is you can eat it warm or at room temperate.

Cheesy Spinach Bites

Also called “leprechaun lunchies,” these healthy bites can be served for breakfast or anytime. With just six key ingredients, one being eggs, they are over-the-rainbow easy.

What you need:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium oranges or tangerines (wedged)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dice onion and mince the garlic. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray, or fill with green liners, and set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until caramelized. About 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Combine them in a food processor with the cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach and onion/garlic mixture. Pulse.

Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is set and eggs are golden on top.

Get out the green napkins and serve with orange wedges. You shouldn’t have to harp on your kids to eat these.

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad

This cold-pasta dish calls for edamame but you can substitute lima beans, sugar snap peas or cut green beans. Also, if your kids like smoked salmon you can swap it out for the chicken to reduce cooking time.

What you need:

  • 8 oz. whole-wheat pasta (we suggest rotini or bow tie)
  • ¾ pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1½ cups edamame, shelled and cooked (you can find frozen shelled edamame at the store)
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese (cubed)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons Vegy Vida Creamy Ranch

What you do:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat the chicken with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and seasoned salt. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Allow it cool slightly, then dice into bite-sized pieces.

While the chicken bakes, cube cheese into ½-inch pieces and cook pasta according to instructions. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and toss with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Mix together the pasta, chicken, edamame and cheese in a large bowl. Stir in Vegy Vida Creamy Ranch (ask the kids to help).

Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes before serving, during which you can do a jig of happiness.

Broccoli Cheddar Rollups

Perfectly shaped for little hands, these rollups can deliver broccoli in a variety of ways including pre-made pizza dough, tortillas or refrigerated crescent roll dough. Thanks for the recipe, Woman’s Day!

What you need:

  • 4 slices of bacon (optional, or you can use Savory Bacon Vegy Vida)
  • 4 oz. Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 scallions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 package broccoli florets
  • 1 pound pre-made pizza dough (or crescent roll dough or several tortillas)
  • Olive oil

What you do:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and then crumble when cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream, scallions, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Fold in the broccoli and bacon.

Shape pizza dough into a 14-inch circle, then cut into 8 triangles.

Divide the broccoli mixture among the triangles. Starting at the wide ends, roll the dough around the filling (some of the filling will stick out’ – don’t sweat it).

Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking sheet, brush with oil and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Grab and go Bragh!

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