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How I (Secretly) Get My Kids to Eat Greens

WARNING: Please don’t let your kids read this. Or at least, if your kids might remotely know my kids (or any kids), don’t let yours tell mine. Thanks.

Many of you health-conscious parents might know of the “White Diet.” It’s really easy: it’s anything white. White bread, milk, yogurt, white rice, pizza counts (even though there’s some red on there). It’s a Top 10 menu item at our house. If you’re not such a health-conscious parent, you might not know of the white diet because your kids live on the white diet. That’s OK, there’s hope for us all. Because I’m going to do some magic.

Color is a big factor in what kids like to eat.

We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. My kids won’t eat anything green—except broccoli, gummy worms, and M&Ms. How did this happen? Were they tortured at a young age with a steaming slimy spinach snake crawling through their nightmares? Why do they associate healthy with yukky?

Why is purple OK? Bright yellow mango lassies are yum-ee-de-bum-ee as my 7-year old says. Orange carrots are good, red strawberries are always gobbled up, but white flour always wins.

I can hear you diehards … because I’m a diehard, “If you give them junk, they’ll eat junk. If you give them good food, they’ll eat good food.”

But there’s the green barrier. The Great Wall of Green. They’ll only reluctantly go over it to the dark side. Until now.

I have an unpatented, not-terribly-creative, but extremely successful and even popular new method for getting my kids to eat the darkest of kale,the leafiest of chard, and the most iron-packed spinach. In fact, and I quote, “Can’t we make more, dad?” came out of my child’s mouth this morning. I’ll record it next time and date stamp it and upload the unedited audio as proof. But it’s happening, they don’t even know it, and I’m not telling.

Well, I’ll tell you.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “OK, Mr. Pill Pusher Peter Picked a Pepper, what kind of herbal-supplement-merry-go-round are we going on? What kind of hocus pocus are you pulling? Snake oil snark!”

Sit tight, cupcake, and keep your eyes on me at all times.Here it comes.

I’m obliterating it. I’m chopping it so small it becomes microscopic. I’m spinning, slicing, dicing, and annihilating. It’s so small and so smashed that it just blends in with its surroundings. The kids would need a magnifying glass to identify the slightest sliver of spinach.

The surroundings are the key. We’re burying the spinach in strawberries. We’re pulverizing the kale with kiwis. Chard gets lost in cherries. Bok choi has no chance for identification. The purple of the blueberries takes over. Vanilla yogurt slides into the nooks and crannies and gives it a luscious light luster. Apple juice gives it a bit of tangy flow. Ice cubes give it a sparkly cool.

We’ve created nothing short of a masterpiece—and the kids can’t get enough. There’s only one catch. I know, I know, you’ve been waiting, even agonizing over the catch, but there is one. I was hoping to say there isn’t one, but there is one. Dangnabbit. Today only, my dear readers, special friend for you my price, what would you pay to have your kids eat greens? What would it take to know your child’s health is on the right track? That’s he’s getting his fruits, vegetables, that you can stop with the intravenous tubes of tomato juice? Think of the savings in doctor’s bills! The list of diseases just ripped to shreds as you howl with delight at your child’s strength and you laugh out loud at the market when he screams, “Dad, I want more KALE!”

It could happen to you. It could happen to you today. It’s not the thousands you’d pay for a PhD nutritionist creating meals of melancholy in your kitchen every night. It’s certainly not the deadly diseases of diabolical diets. No, none of that.

It’s a blender.

OK, fine, it’s not a blender. But only in the sense of “Don’t you be calling me a blender!” It’s a Vitamix.

You’ll probably have the same reaction as most of the people who visit the Vitamix Anonymous Support Groups, “Dude, that’s a $500 blender. Have you had one too many kale cocktails?”

But wait! There’s more!

Now that I’ve gone completely Kiosk Guy in the Mall, I might as well go all the way.

Not only do my kids want smoothies-with-unknown-ingredients -as-long-as-they’re-purplish, they want them in dessert-like Popsicle format! Did I just say my kids are eating greens for dessert? You heard it here first! It’s a madhouse. I should be selling them to my kids! I have to slow them down. I’m telling them they need to finish their “greens” (yuk yuk, little inside blended humor there, but now you’re on the inside!) first then they can have their (kale-infused) “desserts.” I tell you, it’s a regular circus. A rip-roaring good time for the whole family!

Here comes the technical jargon: speed and power. Because I know you’re asking, “Why can’t I use my regular blender?” Speed and power. This is what Jamba Juice uses. It turns greens into liquid. Well, it turns just about anything into liquid. That’s all you need to know.

Go ahead, tell me how your kids eat kale raw in their cereal. They strip chard stalks off the stem, roll up the leaf and chew on them for recess. Floss their teeth with the string bean stringy-thingies. I can take it.

I can take it because I’m (secretly) feeding my kids greens—and they love me for it.

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Bradley Charbonneau blogs at Pass the Sour Cream and works on Bite-Size Change at Repossible.