Use these simple, healthy recipes to get your toddler eating more leafy green vegetables! Toddlers eating kale? It can be done.
Just stick with me here.
Toddlers – eating leafy green vegetables? And actually liking them?
I know, I know. This may sound crazy to you.
And depending on the feeding journey you’ve had with your toddler, this whole concept of “getting kids to eat vegetables” may seem very hopeless – but I am here to tell you – it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether your toddler is of the “I don’t like it” or the “I just want noodles” variety, I’ve got lots of creative recipe ideas to share with you that might help turn this around.
I don’t live in a dreamworld and I fully realize that some kids just won’t try new foods no matter what; especially if they’re going through a “I won’t eat anything green” phase.
Here are some quick tips that might help your toddler eat more veggies:
- You decide what to serve / They decide what to eat (based on what you served)
- Exposure is half the battle: your toddler may need to be exposed to a new food up to 30 times before trying it
- Their ideal plate might be buttered noodles with a side of buttered noodles, but you offer them 1. Buttered Noodles 2. Sliced Cucumbers 3. Blueberries
- Be playful, encourage tasting, add dips, make it fun – but don’t force, beg, plead, threaten, etc. It’s a dinner table, not a battlefield.
In Practical Solutions for Picky Eaters, I walk you step-by-step through navigating any and all situations with a picky eater – from toddlers who say “I don’t like it” to toddlers who refuse to try new foods. And even down to grocery shopping, meal planning, and everything in between.
When it comes to leafy greens though, they can just be downright hard for little ones to eat (whether they’re a good eater or not).
Thicker greens like kale can be chewy and tough, while softer greens like spinach can still be difficult to chew.
You can plop a bowl of kale salad in front of them, but the likelihood of them eating it, or even being able to eat it, is minimal.
So what’s a health-conscious parent to do?
Luckily, with a few simple (and tasty) recipes, you can have your toddler eating more leafy green vegetables in no time.
How to Get Your Toddler to Eat More Leafy Green Vegetables
Greens that pack the most nutritional value:
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
Generally, the darker the green, the more nutritional bang for your buck. Curly Green Kale also tends to be super inexpensive, is usually on sale, and lasts forever in the fridge, which is why it’s my # 1 go-to.
Now, here’s how to use those leafy green vegetables!
Remember: exposure, exposure, exposure. Just because your toddler doesn’t like something the first time, doesn’t mean you should give up. Wait a week or so, and then try again.
Leafy Green Pesto Recipes
My all-time favorite way to incorporate more leafy greens into my family’s diet is by making pesto. I always have the ingredients on hand, and besides wanting to drink it by the bucketful, my kids love any excuse to eat pasta, but then again, don’t we all?
- 5 Minute Kale Pesto from Pinch of Yum (this recipe is vegan – but you can always add real cheese or dairy-free parm)
- Spinach Pesto from Diethood
- Arugula Pesto from Foodie Crush
*I have also made pesto by combining Kale, Spinach and Swiss Chard – uses up a lot of veggies and tastes delicious. I also like to put pesto on their pizza!
Leafy Green Smoothie Recipes
Serve in a fun cup with a twisty straw and you’ve got yourself a winner. Even better, let them “help” by pressing the buttons on the blender – endless fun for toddlers.
- Strawberry & Banana Green Smoothie from Cooking Classy
- Pineapple Avocado Smoothie from Natasha’s Kitchen
- Berry Green Smoothie from Damn Delicious (this one comes out purple so if little ones are opposed to green, purple monster smoothie it is!)
- Coconut Creamsicle Cold-Buster Green Smoothie from Because I Said So Baby
- Spinach, Banana & Peanut Butter Smoothie from Twin Mom Refreshed
Leafy Greens + Grains Recipes
Carbs. Need I say more?
- Spinach Mac & Cheese from RecipeGirl (I like to do 50/50 arugula and baby spinach)
- Green Goddess Mac & Cheese from Simply Recipes
- Restaurant-Style Fried Rice from Gimme Some Oven (I add tiny pieces of chopped kale when sauteing the veggies)
- Cheesy Kale & Spinach Quinoa Bites from The Nourished Seedling
Leafy Greens + Protein Recipes
Easy ideas for breakfast or dinner!
- Kale & Chicken Nuggets from Brit Strawbridge (our new favorite dinner!)
- One-Pan Pesto Chicken & Veggies from Julia’s Album (use one of the leafy green pestos above)
- Swiss Chard Frittata from Skinnytaste (I use all whole eggs, instead of half egg whites)
- Sausage, Spinach & Cheese Egg Muffins from Two Peas & Their Pod (use veggie sausage to make vegetarian)
- Spinach & Banana Yogurt Melts from Because I Said So, Baby
Ive got to try these smoothies!! My kids HATE anything green…. no really… anything!! Giving it a go!
Purple smoothies (with hidden greens) it is then! 🙂
Love these ideas! I have a picky toddler eater and it’s always a struggle to integrate greens.
Thanks, Carly! Hope some of these ideas work for you!
These are fantastic ways to get kids to eat their greens. I made a pea and kale pesto for my kid that tastes amazing!
That sounds delicious!
I love making smoothies with leafy greens too. Kale used to taste really bitter, but it now tastes pretty good to me. This is a great round up to create healthy eaters. Thanks for sharing. I pinned the post too! 😉
Thanks so much, Angela!
These are excellent ideas! I especially love the thought of lots of pesto! ?
Thanks, Amanda! We love pesto around here. My freezer is always stocked with some!
Erin Ruoff says
Totally pinning this for later! YUM!
Awesome tips! 🙂 I have an infant that will soon be a toddler so this post is perfect. 🙂
Thanks, Latasha! Hope some of these ideas work for you!
Sane Mama says
I keep forgetting about smoothies, this summer we will get back into them for sure!
I always forget about making them, and then I’ll go on a smoothie kick for a few weeks!
Great suggestions! I’m all about veggies and kids. I’ve done the same kinds of recipes and now my children are great vegetable lovers.
That’s awesome! There’s nothing better than a kid who loves to eat their veggies 🙂
Thanks for including my Kale & Spinach Quinoa Bites! Enjoying your site! 🙂
Thanks, Sarah! It’s a great recipe!