Kids in the Kitchen: Green Foods (Naturally)

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Everyone loves green on March 17. Why not use this day to introduce your children to some naturally colored green foods that they can enjoy for St. Pat’s day and every day?

Green vegetables and fruit are an important part of a life-long cancer-protective diet for kids and adults. These foods provide fiber and other cancer-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals (plant substances), and because they’re low calorie, they can help in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Starting with an online search is a fun way to find pictures of green vegetables and fruits to help make a few choices. Search for recipes that appeal to your child in the AICR Test Kitchen or other sites with healthy recipes. Together prepare the grocery list before your shopping outing.

It’s a good idea to allow plenty of time for food preparation so it can be a relaxed and enjoyable experience for all involved. Even making a simple sandwich or wrap can be a great way to spark a child’s interest in food.

Here are a couple of recipe ideas to go green in the kitchen:

Turkey, Spinach and Apple Wrap

  • 1 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. honey mustard
  • 2 whole-wheat lavash wraps or flour tortillas (or try a spinach wrap!)
  • 2 cups (washed and dried) baby spinach leaves, loosely packed, or two large leaves of a soft leafy green lettuce
  • 4 thin slices turkey breast (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 Granny Smith apple, sliced paper-thin

Combine mayonnaise and mustard. Lay out both wraps. Spread the edges of each with the mayonnaise mixture. Leaving a margin free on the side closest to you, arrange a layer of greens on top of wraps. Top each layer with half the turkey. Evenly divide apple slices and lay lengthwise across turkey. Fold over the end of the wrap closest to you, then the two sides. Roll the wrap as tightly as possible toward the opposite side. Cover each wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate, seam side down, up to 4 hours before serving. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and cut each wrap in half, at an angle.

Makes two wraps, or 2 servings.

Per serving: 234 calories, 7 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 27 g. carbohydrate,
20 g. protein, 3 g. dietary fiber, 294 mg. sodium.


Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
and Dried Cranberries

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen, petit baby Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. finely chopped, lightly toasted pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook Brussels sprouts according to package directions. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, pecans and cranberries. Transfer cooked sprouts to serving dish. Gently toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 102 calories, 6 g total fat (>1 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrates,
2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 13 mg sodium.


Here are more ideas for cooking with kids and check out AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables recipe page for more recipe ideas.

What’s your favorite natural green food?


    Author: Alice RD

    Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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