I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I wasn’t aware of the need (or wasn’t explicitly told) to eat more greens. It’s a constant given that I can never consume or serve as much as I should. One of my favorite things about having a garden is having access to fresh greens like kale, lettuce and chard any time I want. However, sometimes those rows of green goodness sit staring at me with one leafy eyebrow tilted upward in judgment as they remain unharvested. At times it feels like a burden to figure out how to get them into our kids’ and our own bodies without a fuss.
This year, when my lovely kale forest began to flower, I listened to my garden mentor and harvested the plant while they still looked like little broccolini pom poms. Apparently you should harvest them before they open as flowers or the leaves will become bitter.
We were heading on a camping trip (glamping is a more honest descriptor) in our little travel trailer that weekend, and I wanted to bring along some smoothie fixings, which is one of the ways I guarantee my kids eat greens daily. Since I now had three heads of kale harvested, I decided to get creative with my old baby food ice cube tray again.
How to make Sneaky Greens:
Here’s what I did: After rinsing, I wilted the kale leaves in a small pot with an inch or so of water.* After the leaves were cooked, I drained the water and let them cool a couple of minutes. Then I put them all in my vitamix with some coconut water (My kale to coconut water ratio was around 4 cups : 1 cup). I blended it until I had a green juice concoction. Then I poured it into my baby food ice cube tray and placed into the freezer overnight. The next morning, I popped the cubes into a storage bag. I added about 4-5 cubes of these sneaky greens into our smoothies each day.
*I’ve learned recently to cook my kale rather than consume it raw because kale is a “goitrogenic food,” which means it contains substances (goitrogens) that may contribute to an enlarged thyroid when eaten raw. Apparently all cruciferous vegetables are technically goitrogenic, including arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, and watercress.  As someone who has eaten all but three of these veggies raw for years (and some daily), I was surprised to hear this and changed my ways overnight thanks to my helpful chiropractor enlightening me on the fact that goitrogens are almost completely destroyed during cooking. Now we avoid eating raw kale for the most part – even though most experts agree that eating normal qualities of raw goitrogenic foods is likely okay for most people. Almost everyone seems to have thyroid issues these days, so I feel it’s better safe than sorry and it literally takes 2 minutes to cook it.
My kids enjoyed their smoothies, and I felt better knowing they were consuming more nutrients and that my garden abundance of gorgeous kale was getting put to good use.
What I loved about having these Sneaky Green cubes pre-made for our trip was that it allowed me to easily portion and freeze ahead of time each day’s smoothie fixings with the following ingredients in a gallon ziplock bag (see list below). All I had to do was add water to the blender after dumping all the contents in the pitcher.
4-5 Sneaky Greens cubes
2 cups frozen organic strawberries
1 cup organic wild blueberries (these help a ton with kids because no matter how many green veggies you add to the blender, the wild blueberries will ensure the final drink remains a fruity purple color).
Fill with filtered water until the other ingredients are just covered.
This isn’t an image of my smoothie, but here’s another person’s purple smoothie to help you feel motivated to make this one. Enjoy – and I hope it helps your family eat more of those healthy greens everyone is pressuring us to consume each day!