If it's a challenge for you to serve greens that your toddler will actually eat, you're going to love today's recipe. While we've had great success with Spinach Pesto and adding spinach to popsicles, I wanted to find a new way to serve kale to my daughter since we grow so much of it during the summer. I'm not kidding when I say that we are currently harvesting 3 gallon size bags of kale each week!
Greens can be tricky with little ones for a few reasons. First, I think we get preoccupied about how many veggies they are eating, and what they do and don't like, that we almost press too hard on greens. And you know that when we push too hard, kids are likely to push back! Second, the texture can be tricky—kale, when raw, is really dense and it takes a lot of commitment to chew it up enough to comfortably swallow it. And for toddlers, who often choose the most nutrient dense foods so they can get on with playing, it's just a lot of work for very little payoff.
But we know that greens are filled with good stuff—folic acid, iron, and fiber to name just a few—so it's a good idea to try to incorporate them into our kids diets from an early age as long as you serve them up in ways that are easy for them to eat and yummy tasting, of course.
These Cheesy Kale Bites are basically a meatball with shredded kale in place of meat. They have tons of flavor from the cheese, particularly the Parmesan, and they are a fun shape for little hands. Plus, they taste really great when dunked into ketchup or salsa, so that helps too! There is a lot of kale in these, so your little one might only want one, but they are really packed with nutrients for growing bodies. (I have been eating these for lunch myself lately and I love how easy they are to reheat!)
Cheesy Kale Bites
These bites store well, so you can make them ahead and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Heat briefly for 15 seconds in the microwave before serving. You can use curly kale or flat kale in this recipe as both work just as well.
- 2 bunches kale, destemmed
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed*
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat, foil (sprayed with nonstick spray) or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Bring a pot or kettle of water to a boil. Place the kale into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cool water. Squeeze dry. You should have about 1 cup blanched kale. (Alternatively, you can steam the kale on the stovetop if you prefer.)
- Place the kale and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely ground. Use a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon to portion out the mixture, scooping it up and gently pushing it out of the spoon with your finger onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until firm to the touch and just starting to turn golden brown on the bottom. Serve warm with salsa or ketchup.
*you can replace the peas with almonds for a yummy variation if you prefer.