Confession time: A couple weeks ago my husband went out of town for several days, leaving me alone (over a weekend even!) with the kids. In order to maintain my sanity, I resorted to my usual coping method of sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I had way overdone it and was feeling pretty yucky. My junk food overload had left me craving healthy, green food to try to rid myself of the yuck. I started pulling out everything green I had in my fridge, and trying to come up with a way to combine it into something that would counterbalance the artificial reds, blues, pinks, and yellows of all the candy and sweets I'd been having. One catch, though, was that it still had to be simple, because I was still playing the single parent and absolutely didn't have the time or energy for something new and exotic.
So, I turned to a basic risotto recipe - one of my tried and true simple recipes. I tweaked it just enough to add in all my green stuff - pureeing peas, parsley, kale, and spinach into a very green "smoothie" mush that would give it a strong green color, as well as also adding in chopped kale, spinach, peas, and dill at the end to add even more green color and texture. It turned out beautifully green, as well as being a delicious hit with adults and children alike. I was especially amazed at how kid-friendly it ended up being - I served it at a potluck dinner with several families with young children, and from what I could tell, most of the kids there (including my own!) ate it up without any apparent questioning of the distinct greenness of it.
Note: If you've never made risotto, and think it sounds complicated and exotic - it's not! I promise you, it is quite simple. Make sure you read all the directions before you jump in, but really the hardest thing about it is that you do have to pay attention to it throughout cooking because the broth needs to be added one cup at a time as the rice cooks. Also, risotto turns out best if you use Arborio rice (which can be found at most any supermarket). I usually don't have Arborio on hand, though, and have found that it turns out reasonably well with plain old short-grain white rice.
We enjoyed this with a simple tilapia filet on the side for more protein. The recipe makes quite a bit, and my kids loved having the leftovers for several days afterward. Just reheat a small amount in the microwave - it gets a little more mushy once it has sat and been reheated, but nobody seemed to mind. I found that this made a really great baby meal, and I've never seen my 1-year-old eat so much green stuff so happily. You could also freeze small baby-size amounts (for example, in ice cube trays) to warm and serve to kids as an easy lunch or even dinner.
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