Friday, May 3, 2013

Mama's Secret Weapon: Butter Kale! (How I Trick My Girls Into Loving Their Greens!)

How I Trick My Kids Into Loving Their Greens - at Biting the Hand That Feeds You
 Pin It
A lot of getting kids to eat new foods is in how you market it to them. "X-Ray Vision Carrots" and "Dinosaur Trees" will get kids to try carrots and broccoli more than "Here. Eat your carrots and broccoli. You won't know if you like them until you try them!" You want to cater it to your child and their interests though. For mine, stuff with "princess" in the title is more effective than "dinosaur," but she's also quite literal, so many things don't work with her. "They're not trees, Mama." I tend to use key words for foods or flavors I know she likes, or mix in her favorites the first few times. Like adding chopped olives and olive can juice to something almost guarantees she'll gobble it all down, for example.

When I first made kale chips, I waaaaay over-salted them, which was actually a selling point to my sensory child and me. We loooove salt! So calling them "Salty Kale Chips" was a win, and she loved them! Now she'll eat them with less salt, because she "knows" that she likes them.

So when I got some kale raab in my weekly CSA farm share, I was stumped. I looked it up online, and saw that it's just the flowery tops of the kale plant. And looks quite a lot like baby broccoli (they're both in the brassica family.) I looked at a few recipes, and decided on chopping it small to make it easier to nibble and frying it in butter and olive oil. We love butter. So when I brought it out, called it "Butter Kale," and said that it was for MY dinner, since she'd already eaten her frozen peas, I ensured that she would at least try it. She loves kale chips, butter, and snitching my food. She ended up gobbling down my whole plate, leaving only a few stem bits! (Made from half a pound of kale raab!)

This recipe is super easy (hence my actual success at making it!) and pretty yummy. For vegetables, anyway.

Butter Kale
1/2 lb kale raab or 1 bunch kale (or kale mixed with other greens... it's all good!)
1 pat butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt or seasoned salt, to taste
I chop up the kale raab into smallish bits, roughly every inch along the stalks (also works fine with regular kale, just be sure to cut the leaves off the stems first. You can eat or discard the stems, your choice. I chop them into small chunks and eat them.) Then set it aside for a few. Mostly because I don't have enough clear space for my cutting board and a heated pan!

I turn the stove to medium (4 or 5, if there's numbers,) and plop in a blob of butter, usually the size of a pat. Or so. And bloob in some olive oil, since it's a healthier fat than butter. But you can use whatever cooking oil you feel comfortable with. I'd say 2 Tbsp total. But the butter really adds a nice flavor.

Once the butter is all melted and you've rolled it all around to coat the bottom of the pan, go ahead and toss in your chopped greens. Use your spatula to stir and flip them around until they're all oily all over. Sprinkle with some salt or seasoned salt. Keep stirring and turning for 5-10 minutes, until they're all wilted and to desired level of tenderness. I usually test a bit with some stem on it, and cook until I'm satisfied with the texture, since I usually only get to eat the stems after my locusts have gone through it all! Some of my leaves *pop* and get a little browned and crisp, but we love those, since they *scrounch* like kale chips in your mouth. Yum!

I started with just kale raab, but then I started getting "braising mix," which I had no clue what to do with. (Braising Mix is basically a mix of greens. I recognized kale, rainbow chard, various raab versions of mystery greens, and more mystery greens. Probably some collard and mustard greens, since I know they grow those there. Possibly dandilion greens. They grow those there too. On purpose!)
I read a recipe where basically you cook them the same way as the kale raab, so one day when I was low on raab (we'd gotten .75 lb that week, so I only had .25 lb left - I can only fit around a half-pound in the pan at once,) I filled in with the braising mix, which I'd also chopped every inch or so, to make it harder for Z to tell that it was different.
She didn't notice a thing! Now I can add in any kind of green or more kale leaves. Whatever I have. Both girls go ape for it. This also tastes great with a bit of minced garlic or some green garlic shoots chopped up. You'd want to cook the garlic for a minute or so before adding the greens though.

Dinner For Baby:
Butter Kale (kale raab plus braising greens,) leftover cauliflower fried "rice," rice and quinoa with cheese
I modified a cauliflower fried rice recipe from Family Fresh Meals by giving up on grating the stupid cauliflower roughly halfway through, then filling it out with a pre-cooked rice and quinoa mix. Hand-grating the cauliflower is a major pain in the booty, plus my girls need grains more than they need the extra veggies, at this point!
I also sub the soy sauce out for some gluten-free tamari. And I don't bother pre-cooking the egg. I just add it a bit earlier and cook it right there with the "rice." Lazy => ingenuity!

The rice and quinoa mix is done up in a big batch (usually a cup of each) once a week or so, and some is kept in the fridge and the rest gets frozen. Then I always have some on-hand for a quick toss-in, like for the fried rice, or just as a side for dinner. Since most gluten-free products are high in white rice and starches to make them more "normal," it means that it's harder to get in all the whole grains they need each day. So this is an easy fix that both girls love! I added cheese to it one night halfway through reheating, and called it "cheesy rice," and now it's a requested favorite. And if I make some for Z, even if Baby already ate the dinner I made for everyone else that Z rejected, I have to make some for her too!

Truthfully, Baby didn't get quite that much Butter Kale. It just looked so forlorn in there with just the bit that she got, so I tossed some of Big Sister's in there too, just for the photo.

I served hers in an EasyLunchbox, even though we were eating at home, because it's easier for her to manage than a plate and two bowls, or to have everything together on a large plate. This way, nothing gets pushed off the side as she tries to jab it with her fork, there is a lot of forgiveness in the dish if she tips it a bit as she leans on the side, there aren't different dishes moving around as she eats, and everything still stays separate.
Plus, honestly, it's just as easy to wash this in the dishwasher than the other dish(es) I would have used.

Little Z's Dinner:
Leftover mashed "potatoes," rice and quinoa w/cheese, more cheese, butter kale (kale raab plus braising greens)
The mashed "potatoes" are really mashed potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, sunchokes, and parsnips. And an onion plus garlic. Ha! I left the peels on the potatoes (a mix of red, fingerling, and German butter-something... whatever I had on-hand from various weeks of my farm share) but peeled the rest, chopped and boiled them up, then mashed it all together. She loooooooves it!

I put hers on a divided plate because she's a big girl and can eat without shoving all her food off the side! Ha! Plus this plate has a fairly high lip. No good for soup or anything like that, but great for mashed potatoes and gravy kind of thing.

Tools of the Trade

1 comment:

  1. So awesome that you "trick" your kids into eating kale! Thanks for linking up at Leftovers on Fridays


Go ahead! Tell me how awesome I am. Or ask a question. Whatever.

(Please note that I had to disable Anonymous comments. Too many spam comments coming through the filters.)