How do I cook winter greens, beets so my kids will eat them?

These winter greens are so beautiful and I am sure nutritious, but I'm not sure how to prepare them for my family.

These winter greens are so beautiful and I am sure nutritious, but I'm not sure how to prepare them for my family.

These beets are beautiful but I'm not sure how to prepare them for my kids or which ones to choose?

These beets are beautiful but I'm not sure how to prepare them for my kids or which ones to choose?

My grocery store is full of vivid winter greens and jewel-toned beets but I have to admit that I don’t know how to cook this fall bounty.

My mother never cooked greens growing up (despite being from Georgia).  And any beets she served came from cans and were just awful. Last spring I tasted roasted beets in Oregon, and they were fantastic but I’m just not sure how to prepare them. I am afraid of staining things in my kitchen. The Food Network talks all about squeezing them but I’m not sure if I need to do that to roast them.

Can I just peel them and cut them up and roast them or is there more preparation to it?

I have cooked with kale in soups, and I like fresh spinach. But I don’t know what to do with all the winter greens. Which ones are the best to try first? How do you cook them? What recipes will the kids eat? Do they like the kale chips? Do you saute it? Do you add into other foods?

Do you have to soak them like leeks to get grit and sand off of the greens?

Tell me your best recipes and prep tips for winter green and beets? What recipes will be the best way to introduce them to my kids?

43 comments Add your comment

threeboymama

October 12th, 2012
6:36 am

I don’t know about the beets, my boys just like them the way they are served at the salad bar. However, for the greens, if your children like bacon, they will like them prepared this way: wash the greens if you need to and chop (I always just buy a bag of prewashed). Put them in a pot and cover with water. Boil for 17 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander and squeeze out as much water as you can. When you start the greens in the pot, put bacon in a 9×13 pan and bake in the oven at 350 until crisp. Chop up the bacon into chunks. Put some bacon grease back in the pot and warm up the greens. Mix in bacon, sprinkle on some salt and serve.

catlady

October 12th, 2012
6:54 am

Well, my kids love winter greens (I am guessing you mean brassicas plus spinach, etc). They were exposed to them from the beginning and just naturally wanted what they saw mama and daddy enjoying the heck out of.

Here is the key: Get FRESH greens, not the old woody things that have traveled so far. Cook as above (some folks add a pinch of sugar). AND THEN DON’T OFFER THEM ANY. Don’t even mention what you and Michael are chowing down on. (It may take several times). I also would not have many other selections at these meals. I know you sometimes seem to cook “for” them. No snacks before or after. I am under the impression that there are some food battles at your house. I would try to diffuse that test of wills. Serve good, wholesome food, severely limit or end snacking, and quit cooking “for” them. They will NOT starve themselves. Of course, your husband has to agree to this also.

Another way would be to grow them yourself. Something about that makes food much more appealing, even to picky eaters.

My kids did not learn to love beets from me. They had a sitter, years ago, who fed them beets, saurkraut, squirrel, rabbit, liver, and other “exotic” stuff and have managed, over the years, to make ME a beet and saurkraut lover! (They will NEVER make me love liver!)

Just Another day

October 12th, 2012
6:55 am

YUCK……..

cobbmom

October 12th, 2012
7:14 am

I saute onion, bacon and a little garlic in olive to soften then add the greens to the pan, toss to cover with the olive oil, wilt slightly then add chicken or vegetable broth to steam. This also works well with brussel sprouts though I do recommend parboiling the sprouts before adding them to the bacon. If it is a hardy green remove the hard center stem before cooking.

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2012
7:41 am

I love to eat both but have never fixed either. I eat pickled beets. I step away from the plate when I have no advice but will check back in to see what others suggest. We do like sauteed brussels sprouts with some bacon.

Surely, you jest...

October 12th, 2012
7:48 am

…about getting kids to eat beets?!?!?!?!?

Gtmom

October 12th, 2012
7:55 am

I braise them like stir fry with a little olive oil, garlic, soy, sometimes ginger. I found the key to braising to remove all water before getting started. I cook them about 7-8 minutes and then they are done. Both of my kids eat them even the picky one. Also, I suggest trying bok choy to get them started. Bok choy is so sweet and not as bitter as other greens. I sometimes add a touch of sesame oil. I get a bunch of greens from my CSA but instead of cooking separately, I cook them all together – stir fry. I do not like southern style greens but love them cooked this way.

homeschooler

October 12th, 2012
7:55 am

I’ve never tried beets but I cook collards, kale, chard and turnip greens. I usually chop them up (My mother-in-law skips the chopping which makes them less appealing to my kids and me.) then I just boil them in chicken broth. I usually add minced onion and a little sugar. I might have to try the bacon thing. Sounds really good. I could cook spinach the same way but I really don’t like cooked spinach unless it is mixed in something. Just too slimy to me. If I do cook spinach just toss it in a little olive oil and garlic and barely steam it in a frying pan.
My husband’s southern family has taught me to eat greens. My kids sometimes eat them and sometimes don’t. I’m sure they will love them as adults because they are exposed to them so much and they really are good. My family would fall out if they heard me say that.
Keep meaning to try kale chips. I hope someone on here can give some ideas on how to make them.

I got this recipe once at Publix. It uses canned greens but my kids just love it. Mix a can of field peas and snaps with a can of Glory seasoned greens. simmer them with cup of chicken broth. Add hot sauce to taste. They are so flavorful. I love to eat them with grits or couscous. That’s another southern thing I’ve picked up; eating grits as a side dish with dinner.

Mayhem

October 12th, 2012
8:15 am

I have a great pasta recipe with spinach that my kids gobble up.
1 lb rotini (spiral) pasta, cooked
1/4 c olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled & cut in half
5 cups FRESH spinach (usually 2 bags)
LOTS of black pepper
8oz Marscapone cheese
1-1/5 cups grated parmesan cheese.

boil the pasta as directed. Meanwhile, put olive oil in HUGE skillet, add garlic and heat up for 3 minutes. Remove the garlic before it burns. Add the spinach, heavily peppered, and cook (wilt) down.

Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta. Mix reserved water with marscapone cheese. Add spinach to pasta, add cheese. Stir. Add the parm cheese. Add more pepper and salt to taste.

My kids eat this stuff up, there’s NEVER any leftovers….

catlady

October 12th, 2012
8:21 am

homeschooler–I have a great recipe for kale chips. Will post this afternoon after I get home!

I love just about all of them cooked lightly in a little butter with a little lemon or salt on top. (Just say no to brussels sprouts, for me! I even grew them and still couldn’t stand them! Maybe someone has a good recipe?)

MomOf2Girls

October 12th, 2012
8:22 am

Roasted beets are amazingly easy, and they make a beet-eater out of most people. Scrub and cut into bite-sized pieces (yes, they will stain, so if you don’t have a sealed counter, put a junk towel under your cutting board). Toss with a little olive oil and Kosher salt (I use gloves, again to avoid staining), put in a single layer on a baking sheet, then roast in the oven at 450 degrees until they sort of crust up. You may need to toss them around a bit to keep from burning on the bottom – I find that it’s a random thing, and doesn’t happen any time.

You can do this with all sorts of root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc. One of my favorite side dishes to prepare, and it always goes over well.

RJ

October 12th, 2012
8:23 am

Beets…ewww!

MomOf2Girls

October 12th, 2012
8:28 am

Doesn’t happen *every* time, that is :-)

Mayhem, that sounds delicious! I have already sent a copy home to try!

Aarti Sequira (sp?) from Food Network has a great recipe for massaged kale salad as well. You can look it up on their website. It actually uses raw kale, which I didn’t even know was edible before this.

One thing about greens – make sure to clean them very thoroughly. They can be quite buggy, and because of the curly leaves, there are plenty of places to hide. I don’t even use regular kale because of this, just the stuff called “dinosaur” kale that I find at DFM. I’m not sure what the real name is, that’s what they call it, but it’s flat leaf and therefore cleanable.

Sluggo

October 12th, 2012
8:42 am

Like prior post, stir fry is the way to go. Heavy on the fresh garlic and squeeze a lemon wedge on them before serving. Quick simple, and healthy.Collards are my favorite.

Voice of Reason

October 12th, 2012
8:53 am

Beets are the Nickelback of root-based vegetables.

jarvis

October 12th, 2012
9:07 am

Give them a multi and be done with it.

jarvis

October 12th, 2012
9:08 am

@VOR, that is the post of this young day.

Judge Smails

October 12th, 2012
9:10 am

Uh…Cover them with syrup?

homeschooler

October 12th, 2012
9:12 am

@ Catlady, I cook brussels spouts just like “Momof2girls” describes cooking beats. Just olive oil and sea salt. Roast until they are crispy. Delicious. My daughter even eats them. Well, she eats the outside, salty crunchy parts. I figure that’s a start. Look forward to your kale chip recipe.

Mayhem

October 12th, 2012
9:14 am

I LOVE BEETS!!! I’ll have to try the roasted kind….I usually get them out of a jar….LOL

FCM

October 12th, 2012
9:51 am

We don’t do beets. I cannot even stand the smell of greens (collard, mustard, etc) of cooking (and my mom said the smell made her ill when she was pregnant with me too)…so I don’t make them. She does though and my kids eat them like crazy! They even order them at Cracker Barrel.

Spinich I just sautee with garlic and oil and some salt. Nothing more to do there.

Techmom

October 12th, 2012
10:12 am

I never ate greens until I’d lived in the south for probably a decade. I definitely don’t like mustard greens- too bitter, but I do like collards and I like them even more when they aren’t cooked to death (my husband’s grandmother believes in all-day cooking of greens) . We recently started eating kale and kale chips are great but I even like it mixed in with lettuce in a salad.

I’ve never been a beet fan but that’s probably b/c I never really ate them growing up. Roasting them sounds intriguing though.

I’d also like to have fall squash ideas. I like summer squash but I’ve never been as big of a fan of fall squash (I think it’s more of a texture issue).

who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men

October 12th, 2012
10:14 am

If only there were a gigantic electronic resource out there where you could just turn on your computer and search worldwide for recipes and suggestions on how to cook…that would be really cool. I bet if someone invented that, they’d be rich.

FCM

October 12th, 2012
10:17 am

OK per my mom (who got it from my grandmother):

get a good mix of turnip, kale, and mustard greens. Rinse well.

Put in a big pot with water (to cover) white vinegar, salt, and bacon or a ham hock. Simmer on low until down until tender. Then she uses the pepper sauce on them when they come out.

FCM

October 12th, 2012
10:30 am

@ who knows…yeah I can go to The Chew, FoodTV, and a host of other places to look stuff up, and do!….but nothing beats getting a tired and true family recipe from someone you “know”….and I am pretty sure that since some of us have been reading TWG (and in my case taking her to task) for almost a decade she probably figures she “knows” us.

FCM

October 12th, 2012
10:32 am

Techmom, I only eat squash in soup all pureed up. I did see receipe (The Chew) that mixed it with sweet potato and roasted in oven. That looked pretty tasty.

Mayhem

October 12th, 2012
10:32 am

@Techmom – I have an aweseome recipe, again that my kids LOVE, for “Harvest Mac & Cheese”..It’s Rachael Ray’s recipe. Look it up on Food Network, or I’ll post it Monday.

Mayhem

October 12th, 2012
10:47 am

We had the neighbors over for football last winter, I made that Harvest Mac & cheese, and they RAVED about it. They were surprised when I told them it was butternut squash. There is a bit of cheese in it, but not as much as regular mac & cheese. Even the kids loved it!!! I had to make another batch the next day….

Techmom

October 12th, 2012
11:17 am

Found the recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/harvest-moon-macaroni-recipe/index.html

It does sound good… and probably less fattening than regular mac ‘n cheese if you can use less cheese due to the squash.

Denise

October 12th, 2012
11:18 am

I’m with FCM. I can’t stand the SMELL of greens (and spinach and cabbage) cooking. Makes me sick to my stomach (and I’ve never been pregnant). I don’t even know how they taste. I will eat raw spinach in a salad but I don’t really LOVE it. I love anything with bacon so all these bacon + greens recipes sound soooooo good but the smell of the greens…yuck.

Jenne

October 12th, 2012
11:37 am

Roasted veggies, including beets, are easy. You can bake beets just like you do potatoes. Or slice them, toss with a little olive oil, and roast at 375 until tender.
You can also make very yummy kale chips by tossing small kale leaves with olive or walnut oil and crisping them about 5 min at 375. Use a metal bakesheet. (Any green works – chard, spinach, or arugula!)

Elizabeth

October 12th, 2012
11:52 am

Yes – roasting beets is the way to go. To further improve kid-friendliness, cut into small squares (after roasting is easier), We mix with orange sections (and grapefruit if your kids like that) sprinkled with a pinch of sugar. For adults we add goat cheese and arugula and make a salad but the kids often just eat the beets and citrus. If your kids like pickles, a quick refrigerator pickle (slice and soak in vinegar with sugar in the fridge overnight) might work too.

Greens – slice into ribbons and sautee in olive oil and garlic then toss with cooked pasta, parm. cheese and toasted walnuts or pine nuts. Works with all greens but collards or chard are our favorites.

Kale chips too. Wash, dry whole leaves (remove hard stems), toss with olive oil, salt and roast for 5-10 minutes at 375. (lots of more specific recipies you can google for this).

HootyGoot

October 12th, 2012
11:58 am

Get a food dehydrator and dry beets,greens, and or just about anything. Place the dried foods into a blender and convert them to a powder. Use this powder in cake, cookie and brownie mixes.

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2012
12:08 pm

@FCM…I am in TN and ate dinner last night, at Cracker Barrel, with a Speech Pathologist whom I met when I spoke at the TN state conference. She recommended me to her school and so I visited with their students yesterday. Her husband is in Special Ed at another school and wanted to meet me too, so we had dinner together and their daughter came along. I ordered the greens and they were great. I think most anything is good at Cracker Barrel. We talked about different kinds of foods and I mentioned grits. They fall into the same category, for me, as greens. I love to eat them but never fix them. The SLP is from TN and does not like grits and her daughter asked her what they taste like…as she had never had them. The daughter is in MS. It is fascinating, to me, the different kinds of foods people eat and how it relates to their own families. Interesting too, that a MS student from TN has never tried Grits. I grew up with Farina and Cream of Wheat but doubt my own two have ever eaten either food.

My husband did not eat Chinese Food until he met me. I love it and so does my daughter. My son, not so much and my husband about the same. Some tastes are cultivated. Our son does love Sushi and while I will eat it, it is not on my “have to have ” list. That does include a good cup of strong black coffee and sweet tea!

I ate beets growing up. Mostly canned and cold or I remember my Mom making them in an orange sauce. Almost similar to cranberry sauce. I am intrigued with the roasting and sea salt.

I like to grate zucchini in a skillet and add some butter and garlic salt. I learned this from a Grandma I stayed with during college and we all eat it this way at our house. We also grill sliced zucchini with olive oil and that is yummy too!

Becky

October 12th, 2012
12:25 pm

Love collard greens, but my two don’t like them..I cook them sorta like FCM posted without the vinegar..I do sometimes add sugar to cut out some of the tartness…Have never tried kale chips, but will soon..Have only had it in soup..

As for brussel sprout, I cut them in half and saute them in butter with garlic, cajun seasoning and onions..Then when they are close to done, I add crumbled bacon..Yummy..

I also have never had fresh beets, have always eaten them out of a can..:( I will have to look for some at the store and try them…

@homeschooler..Try foodnetwork.com for a kale chips recipe…I saw one on there a couple of days ago that looks and sounds good…

FCM

October 12th, 2012
1:40 pm

@ MJG I had Cream of Wheat growing up. I don’t do grits. My cousins from MI came through one time and they tried the grits (must have been MS & HS for them). They loved them! Years later we were in Columbia, TN and one of the cousins’ kids had never had Country Ham (are you kidding???? We know for sure the Mom had!!). So my Dad cut a bite off and gave it to the child. The look on his face was priceless…the whole rest of the trip every morning the little one would say “Do they have Country Ham here?” My own 2 love Country Ham as well. (Did you by chance bring one back with you?).

catlady

October 12th, 2012
1:58 pm

MJG–I eat cream of wheat and cream of rice. (thought the rice was a poorly made grits when I was at UT!) Love okra, too.

Any suggestions for parsnips and rutabegas? I have not grown these yet.

Dennis

October 12th, 2012
2:13 pm

Beets: clean, wrap in foil, add a little olive oil and roast in oven until tender. Peel in cold water (doesn’t stain your hands). I like beets in salads with citrus flavors and strong cheeses.

Most greens can be sauteed fairly quickly. I’ll sautee kale in bacon fat and then toss with a little salt, pepper and cider vinegar and eat. I’ll eat it for breakfast.

Fresh mustard greens are great mixed in salads.

FCM

October 12th, 2012
3:56 pm

@ catlady…when I was a teen my grandmother said if you wanted a large bustline you would eat okra and cornbread….even that did not get me to eat okra. LOL

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2012
3:57 pm

@FCM….I am still in TN. Years ago, I was at a hotel in Iowa. They had biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Cheerleaders were also there and when they came to the counter, they said, “WHAT IS THAT NASTY STUFF?” Made me laugh as I know that people eat all sorts of different things on any given day.

@catlady… you are on your own with rutabega and parsnips. I do like rhubarb especially in pie!

Becky

October 12th, 2012
3:59 pm

@FCM..It was the skin on a baked potato for us girls when I was growing up..

Name (required)

October 13th, 2012
9:29 am

Beets. Bears. Battlestar Galactica.

True Southern Cook

October 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

I’ve never tried to cook greens the way y’all have. I use my grandmas recipes. I wash my greens, throw in a big pot with a ham hock, a can of chicken broth, salt, pepper & just a pinch of sugar. I cook them 5-6 hours on low heat. My kids love them.