As a chef and a mom I’m accustom to introducing my family to new foods and food pairings. For most adults trying new things to eat is a common part of what we do and something many of us look forward to. For our children however, it can be a different story. I can only relate. All three of my children have been on the picky side of the fence at one time or another. Like all kids, once they’ve tasted the “junk”, they will beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal to eat what they want when they want it!
This last spring, a friend of mine recommended a book to me that changed the way I approach introducing my children to new foods. It’s called “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen LeBillon. In the book, Karen details her journey from being a mother of two picky North American eaters to now having children that like to eat beet puree and sardines. Her ten rule French approach to food inspired me to try several of those approaches with my own kids.
One of the most interesting rules she details is: That in order to like a new food, children must try that food at least seven times. On that note I started my conquest and I began with the glorious vegetable KALE!
I have introduced kale to literally thousands of students in Oklahoma over the last 10 years and their reactions are always the same. “Wow Chef Poe, I had no idea this was so amazing”! I could only hope for such rave reviews from my kids. I purchased a small bunch of “Tuscan” or “Lacinato” Kale along with my other groceries that week and proceeded with my experiment.
My first recipe involved eggs. I simply chopped up the washed kale and sautéed it in with the scrambled eggs for breakfast. When the kids saw it they wanted to know why their eggs were green. I made a witty remark about “green eggs and ham” and they proceeded to eat. My middle child complained a little but after seeing the other two eat all their eggs, she followed suit out of peer pressure.
The next recipe involved dinner. I sautéed the kale with garlic and olive oil, just as I had millions of times before for students or friends. I served it right along side the chicken and rice dish. At first glance the kids where a little skeptical. After one of them tried it and made a remark about how “sweet” it was, the other two tried it out of curiosity.
I encouraged them multiple times to continue tasting it throughout dinner and when we were finished I was amazed how much they had eaten.
Every few weeks from then on I would purchase and prepare kale as part of our family dinning. After a while the children began to ask for it by name. I started putting it in soups, main courses and starches. Now we have kale as a regular part of our family meals. I’m glad to say that my little experiment has been successful. So successful in fact that last week we had kale and the kids got in a fight over who was going to get the second helping! If my little jewels can fall in love with kale, yours can too! Buy some today!
Green Eggs and Ham:
6-8 Fresh Eggs
1/2 Bunch of Kale (Tuscan or Lacinato is my favorite)
2 Tbls Olive Oil
1/2 Shredded Mozzarella or Favorite Melting Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Wash, rise and remove the kale from the stem and chop in to small pieces or shred. You can add one small leaf cut very thin to start and work you way up to 1/4 or 1/2 of a bunch!
Crack eggs into bowl with pouring spout and whisk together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in non-stick pan.
Add chopped kale and sauté for 1-2 minutes to wilt greens by half volume. Remove from pan.
Add eggs to pan and stir slowly using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Continue to stir eggs until curds have formed and the consistency has become creamy but firm.
Add the kale to the eggs and combine.
Remove from heat and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over eggs and allow to melt.
* Serve with bacon, turkey bacon, ham or sausage and toast for a fun and unique way to introduce your children to kale.