Seven Clever Ways to get your Kids Eating Leafy Green Vegetables!

Convincing your children that eating healfebruary green smoothie challengethily is a good idea isn’t always the easiest task. When they’re adamant that they’d rather fill their faces with sugar instead of the healthy snack that you’ve prepared for them, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. However, there are many ways to easily incorporate health foods into your child’s diet, without causing a fuss! Here are just seven of my favourites…

Smoothies
Smoothies are easy to make and taste great. Even kids who don’t usually enjoy eating fresh fruit will be happy to drink a smoothie, especially if made to look a bit more enticing with colourful ingredients. You can blend the fruit with some soy milk and even sweeten with honey or natural sugars to satisfy that sweet tooth. Another great bonus of this treat is that you can also chuck some nutritional supplements and also things like kale or spinach into the mix and your child will be none the wiser!

Pasta Sauces simplesauce
Pasta is a simple and inexpensive meal that the majority of young ones will be happy to eat. Sprucing up any pasta dish with a delicious sauce is another great way to get some nutrients into your child’s diet. Making your sauce from scratch is the best way to know exactly what is going into the meal, and this also this allows you to blend in extra vegetables and herbs at your discretion!

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Soup is a fantastic way to cram a lot of goodness into one meal. Home-made vegetable soups can consist of absolutely anything you want and adding flavours and stock will keep any recipe tasty. Garnish with a selection of herbs before you serve for an extra dose of nourishment.

Kale Chipsimages
Kale chips are an interesting and nutritious alternative to potato chips and make the perfect snack between meals. They are so easy and quick to make that you can whip them up fresh whenever your young ones get peckish.

15649993-assortment-of-salad-dressing-bottlesSalad dressing
There is a massive variety of salad dressings that can be made with leafy green vegetables. To do this it’s best if you have a high powered food processor to properly blend everything together. Fresh spinach leaves are excellent for including in a salad dressing and it’s also easy to add in absolutely any herb to compliment the flavour.

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There are some very high quality vegetable burgers in the supermarkets these days, try substituting any meat products your children are eating for a veggie alternative. There is a lot of protein to be found in leafy green vegetables so there’s absolutely no need to worry that your children are missing out by not eating meat!

Purees
If your child is still young enough to be eating pureed food then it’s easy to combine leafy vegetables into any meal. This also works for older children. For example blended broccoli is easily disguised into mash potato and you can chuck any vegetable into the blender with tomatoes to make pizza sauce. images

Remember, you don’t always have to be sneaky to encourage your children to eat healthier foods. Often leading by example is a great way to show them that nutrition doesn’t have to be boring. Also, making every meal time fun and creative is a brilliant way to get children excited about food. Use your imagination when it comes to nutrition and they’ll use theirs!

Thai Coconut Noodle Bowl with Pak Choi

This is a healthy dish that has an indulgent feel to it as the combination of ingredients create a delicious yet nutritious concoction. Some of the ingredients may be slightly outside of the norm of what is found in your kitchen, however after cooking this recipe, you may soon discover they become regular additions to your cupboards. Asian food is cooked with fantastically aromatic flavours and although there is traditionally a heavy emphasis on fish and meats, you can create an amazing Thai dish without using any! To make this Thai Coconut Noodle Bowl with Pak Choi for three to four people you will need the following ingredients:

2 tins of coconut milk
5-6 coriander stalks
6 freeze dried whole pieces of lemongrass
1 large onion
1 hot red chilli
50g of coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons of shredded kaffir lime leaves
A handful of portabellini mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
The juice of 3 limes
3 tbsp. of tamari
50g thin rice noodles
100g of pak choi
1 cup of water

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The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the leaves from the coriander stems and put them to one side, they will come in useful when the time comes to garnish. Next, slice your onion, chop the red chilli and peel and smash the garlic. Next, take a large saucepan and pour the two cans of coconut milk in with the coriander stems, lemongrass, onion, garlic, kaffir lime leaves and the sugar. Stir the contents of the pan together well and bring to a simmer.

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Continue to cook for an additional 15 – 20 minutes before straining through a sieve and into a separate saucepan. You must now discard all of the strained ingredients that didn’t make it through the sieve. Add the sliced mushrooms, tamari, lime juice, water, pak choi and rice noodles to the new pan and bring to a simmer once again. This process should take between 3 and 4 minutes, after which time you can remove the pan from the heat.

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Season to taste and then serve into bowls. Before you give each dish to those waiting around the table, garnish with the coriander leaves you saved at the start as well as a few slices of chilli each and some kaffir lime leaves.

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Every plant-based ingredient in this dish is packing an impressive amount of nutrition, ensuring your body enjoys this meal just as much as your taste buds do. Although high in calories and fat, coconut milk contains a lot of micro-nutrients and protein and is also said to help blood cholesterol levels.

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Portabellini mushrooms are also a good source of protein and encouragingly low in calories with absolutely no cholesterol, fat or sodium. Pak choi is a very popular vegetable in Asia and is also very low in calories. It is a rich source of a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, mineral and anti-oxidants. Pak choi is a particularly good source of vitamins A, C and K which are great for the immune system, vision and bones respectively.

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Kaffir lime leaves have a strong citrus flavour and are often used in Thai cooking. In some parts of Asia, the juice of the kaffir lime is also used for its medicinal properties and for washing purposes. Garlic is another ingredient that has long been loved for its medicinal properties. Garlic has been proven to be effective in protecting against diseases, infections and cancers. It is also an amazing source of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc!!

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Green Goddess Salad Bowl

This is a dish that my husband and I have made nearly every day for lunch for almost a year now. It is so nutritious and so tasty that even after this much time, we still look forward to it! We attribute the fact this salad is so delicious to the yummy dressing that is drizzled over the top. All four of my children agree and are even happy to have it drizzled over any other meal, anytime! Because of the ingredients used to make the dressing, it is a perfectly effortless way to get your kids to eat their greens!

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This recipe will serve two for a main course or will even stretch to four if you’re using it as a meal accompaniment. To make the salad half of the meal you will need the following ingredients:

1 head of lettuce (the darker the better!)
1 small cucumber, chopped
A range of different tomatoes (even different colours too!), chopped
2 spring onions, chopped – use all of it!
A large handful of black kalamata olives
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 an avocado, diced
A large handful of toasted pinenuts

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Simply combine all of these ingredients in a dish and mix well together!

Next, acquire the following ingredients to create the dressing:

The juice of 1/2 of a blood orange
7 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. of tamari
1/2 an avocado
A fistful of coriander
A fistful of parsley
A fistful of mint
1 small garlic clove
1 tbsp. of agave nectar or 1 date, de-stoned
Sea salt and pepper to taste

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If you have a high-speed blender, such as a vitamix, then now is the time to get it out! Even if you don’t own a vitamix then a normal device will do the trick. Chuck all of the dressing ingredients into your blender and whizz together before pouring over your salad.

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This is such a gorgeous dish to make and takes next to no time to prepare once you have all of the ingredients. Salad is a lunch time favourite of many people and by including a healthy home-made dressing such as this one instead of heaps of pre-made supermarket stuff, you’re doing your body countless favours.

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The inclusion of an entire avocado in this meal, split between the salad and the dressing, is one aspect that is particularly good for you. Avacadoes are an amazing source of protein and carotenoids; despite often being associated with a high fat content, they are beneficial fats. These fats actually boost your HDL cholesterol count. As you may know, HDL is the good kind of cholesterol and is essential in the bodies fight against free radicals! The fat content is also good for the continued optimum health of your heart as it protects against a range of diseases.

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Blood oranges are fantastic for a variety of purposes, whether you’re eating them raw, squeezing the juice out of them or including in meals. They contain absolutely no cholesterol and an incredibly low amount of fat whilst also being rich in vitamin C, potassium and several other important vitamins and minerals. Consuming a portion of this fruit every day will do wonders for your health and they are also less acidic then usual types of orange.

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Pomegranate, Cucumber and Mint Salsa!

Salsa makes a great accompaniment to a wide selection of meals and, with no set recipe as to how it has to be made, you can create any number of variations to suit your tastes! Depending on the ingredients you choose to use, your salsa can not only be a tasty addition to your meal but also a healthy and nutritious one! Pomegranate, Cucumber and Mint Salsa is one of my favourites to create, especially if I’m having guests over, and takes next to no time at all to put together. To whip up a dish for yourself that’ll be enough to serve six, you’ll need the following things:

1 large pomegranatepomegranate, cucumber and mint salsa grassrootsandgrains7
1/2 a large cucumber, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 red hot chilli, finely chopped
1/2 a bunch of mint, chopped
1/2 a bunch of coriander, chopped
The juice of 1 lime,
Sea salt and pepper
A drizzle of olive oil

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So first is the fun part! Take the pomegranate, cut it in half and get your fingers in there to prise all of the seeds free. Ensure that you pull away all the pith as you go. Once you’ve done this, take the cucumber, chilli, red pepper, mint and coriander and mix in a bowl. Then you can also combine all of the pomegranate seeds into the bowl before adding the juice of the lime.

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Make sure you stir everything together well and then add the sea salt, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Give the whole bowl a final stir before covering and placing in the fridge to chill.

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As soon as the time comes to tuck in, you can just remove from the fridge, uncover and serve as is! If for some reason you don’t get through the whole dish, you should be okay to re-cover and pop back in the fridge for a day or two, however it’s more than likely it’ll all be gone after the first sitting!

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Pomegranates are an amazing super-food that, as part of a balanced diet, can really help improve your overall health. They are low in calories and high in many nutrients. It is the seeds of the plant which should be eaten and you can either do so in its natural form or blend it into a juice. The seeds of a pomegranate contain absolutely no cholesterol and just a small amount of fat but will provide you with natural sugars and fibre. Pomegranate seeds are also rich in antioxidants which are great for combating the free radicals in your body which can assist the formation of some cancers.

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The nutritional value of mint is also to be admired as it is packed full of minerals and vitamins! This herb is an especially good source of carotenes and vitamin C which means good things for your immune system! Magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and calcium can also be found in abundance in a serving of mint, all of which have individual health properties; mostly pertaining to the maintenance of your bones and blood. Similarly, coriander has many of the same qualities and both are herbs which should feature in your daily diet!

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Hot chilli peppers have multiple health benefits, some of which are often overlooked. For a start it is thought that consuming even a small amount of chilli peppers will help you to sleep better whilst also making you feel more awake and energetic the following day. Chilli peppers will also aid your body in lowering cholesterol which means good things for the overall health of your heart. Also, they are great for fighting inflammation which is a common precursor to many diseases.

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Sangita’s Tofu Curry

My friend Sangita was kind enough to share this recipe with me although it was originally intended as a prawn curry dish! To give this recipe my own touch, I’ve substituted tofu in to create a veggie alternative! Curry is a wholesome dish that is perfectly satisfying at the end of a long day and with ample opportunity to include a combination of herbs and spices, it is great for your body too! To make this recipe for yourself and three others, you’ll need the following ingredients:

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2 medium onions
450g block of firm tofu, cut into small chunks
½ a block of coconut cream
1 teaspoon of cumin
4 ground cardamom pods
2 teaspoons of coriander
2 teaspoons of turmeric
2 teaspoons of chilli powder
Lime juice to taste
1 inch of root ginger
3 tablespoons of safflower oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Before you start preparing the curry, you should first add your desired amount of rice to a pan of hot water and leave to cook.

So to begin, you should chop the onions into small pieces and peel and slice the ginger. Next you can drizzle some of the safflower oil into a pan and fry these two ingredients together for two to three minutes. Whilst continuing to fry, include the cumin, cardamom, coriander plus the turmeric and chilli powder. Stir the contents of the frying pan together well before adding in all of the tofu.

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Now you can turn the heat down a tad whilst you create the coconut milk. Do this by mixing the block of coconut cream with 475ml of boiling water in a jug and stirring well before pouring into the pan. Turn the heat back up and allow everything to cook together for between five and ten minutes.

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Before you take the curry off the heat, check to see if the rice is ready and if so drain off any excess water and serve onto dishes. You can then season the contents of your pan with salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving over the rice. Garnish with a dash of lime juice and enjoy!

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Curry is often thought of as an indulgent dish that is neither good for the body or your waistline, however when prepared with the correct ingredients and not full of fatty products, curry can actually be a healthy meal. Not only this but it isn’t too difficult to make and is loved by many! Also, by using tofu as an alternative to meat in your curries, you are providing the body with numerous healthy benefits. These benefits range from lowering your cholesterol count to helping protect against certain cancers. It is also believed that consuming tofu will help keep bones strong as it is a great source of calcium. Tofu is also full of vitamin E and is a fantastic source of protein. Every 100g of tofu contains approximately 17.19g of protein, making it easy to see that you can still meet your daily recommended allowance from this meat alternative!

The inclusion of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander are also good ways to boost the nutritional value of your meals and also add to the taste. Also, when cooking it is preferable to avoid the traditional oils which have become the norm and instead opt for a healthier alternative. Safflower oil has been used since the Ancient Egyptian times and is a bi-product of a plant which is also widely used for colouring, flavouring and medicinal purposes.

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Chia Seeds – A Cool Superfood!

Chia seeds may not be a health food that you are already familiar with, however if you are looking to give your body a boost – it is something you should become acquainted with! Much research has been done to discover the incredible health benefits of chia seeds and the advantages of eating them are many and varied.

It has been suggested that these seeds can make you feel fuller for longer which in turn helps with weight management and weight loss. When they enter your body they are thought to absorb ten times their own weight in water. This assists in creating the feeling of being full which should prevent you from snacking between meals!

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Athletes are among the many people realising the potential of chia seeds as they hydrate the body, something which is obviously particularly useful during sports. There is also strong evidence to suggest that they will reduce your blood pressure and slow down the speed at which your body converts carbohydrates into sugars. This reduction in carb conversion time is particularly beneficial for sufferers of diabetes as it aids the control of blood sugar. The Omega-3 content of chia seeds is also something to get excited about as it is the richest plant source of this fatty acid, containing even more than a portion of salmon! As you may well already know, Omega-3 is an essential fat that protects the body against inflammations and is also great for the brain and heart.

As well as being packed full of Omega-3, chia seeds are also high in protein and dietary fibre as well as being gluten free! The protein count is especially impressive as it contains all eight essential amino acids. These seeds also boast an amazingly high amount of antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, iron and potassium! All of these components combined make it a fantastic food for promoting healthy skin, hair, nails as well as everything on the inside! chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains2

To make the most of the remarkable benefits of eating chia seeds, you should aim to include approximately 15g (roughly one tablespoon) in your diet every day. However, due to the high fibre content, you must also remember to drink plenty of water. There are countless ways to incorporate the seeds into your meals, the easiest being to simply sprinkle them on top of whatever you are eating. There is no need to cook the seeds before you eat them and they will dramatically improve the nutritional value of any dish, be it cereal, soup, salad or anything else! If you’ve got more of a sweet-tooth, but still want to enjoy the benefits of chia seeds, then why not try the recipe below for my Chocolate Chai Chai Pudding!

To make this treat for four you’ll need to shop for the following ingredients:

• 1/4 cup of chia seedschia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains4
• 1 cup of unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk
• 5 pitted Medjool dates
• 1/2 a vanilla pod
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cacao powder
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of cloves
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger

All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, except for the chia seeds, in a high-speed food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Next, pour your concoction into a bowl and stir in the seeds before separating into serving dishes and placing in the fridge  for several hours whilst it becomes thick.

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chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains6Once ready you can top with a couple of blueberries and tuck into this tasty treat with absolutely zero guilt, knowing that you’re body is as thankful for every spoonful as you are!

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Red Velvet Soup

When it comes to getting lots of nutrients into one dish, soup is the perfect way to do it. Within reason there’s no limit to how much goodness you can blend into any recipe and you can also mix in supplements without compromising the taste! Choosing to prepare soup is also a great way to make a lot of food with minimal fuss – which is perfect when you’ve got many mouths to feed at dinner time! This tasty dish takes just five minutes to prep for and a further 40 to cook, meaning you can easily make it fresh in the evening. My eight year old calls this his “favourite meal in the whole wide world” and he can easily polish off seconds and then thirds if there’s any left! To see what all the fuss is about and make some yourself, you’ll need the following ingredients:

red velvet soup grassrootsandgrains12 tbsp. of unrefined virgin coconut oil
1 & 1/2 tsp. of cumin seeds
1 & 1/2 tsp. of black mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. of fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp. of turmeric
2 tsp. of ground cumin
Pink Himalayan salt
2 cups of chopped tomatoes
8 cups of veggie stock
2 cups of red lentils, rinsed
1 cinnamon stick
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1/2 tsp. of agave nectar
1/4 cup of chopped coriander, to garnish

To begin, heat the coconut oil at medium heat in a large pan and add only the mustard and cumin seeds. Sauté the contents of the pan until they begin to pop and then quickly include the onion, ginger, turmeric, ground cumin and a pinch of the salt. Continue to sauté for a further two or three minutes and then chuck in the two cups of chopped tomatoes and an additional quarter tablespoon of salt. Now give your ingredients a quick stir and continue to sauté for another two minutes.

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Now you can include your first half cup of veggie stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by approximately a half. When you can see that this has happened, it’s time to add the red lentils and stir well before adding the remaining seven and a half cups of stock and the cinnamon stick. Next you must turn the heat up to bring your concoction to the boil and then lower the heat again before covering and allowing to simmer for a good 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes the lentils should be tender so you can now add another quarter tablespoon of the Pink Himalayan salt and leave to simmer again for another five minutes. Now you can remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the juice of your lime and the agave nectar. Then it’s time for the fun part, blending it all up! Pour the entire contents of the pan into your blender and blitz it until it’s smooth.red velvet soup grassrootsandgrains6

You can now serve into bowls, garnish with the chopped coriander and enjoy!

The combination of everything in this recipe will do great things for your energy levels as well as providing many other health benefits. Red lentils in particular are often spoken of as a super food with anti ageing properties. They are incredibly rich in protein and fibre as well as containing high levels of manganese, iron, potassium and vitamin B1. Including red lentils in your diet is a fantastic way to lower cholesterol whilst also maintaining blood sugar levels.

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As we already know, turmeric is brilliant for the system and cumin, coriander and ginger are also amazing ways to give the body a subtle boost. The chopped tomatoes included in this recipe bring a happy dose of lycopene to the table which research suggests prevents many types of cancer.

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