Look Again is a series where I feature an old recipe that deserved a second look. These Spinach Nuggets have been buried in the archives since 2010, but are a great way to get your toddler or kids to eat more spinach!
I’ve been on a mission to get my kids eating more greens. Greens are pretty much the healthiest foods on the planet, and my kids turn their nose up at salads and any kind or cooked or sauteed greens. Smoothies with greens are an exception, but all winter long when I offer Meghan a smoothie for breakfast she says, “No I’m too cold for a smoothie!” If Meghan doesn’t want a smoothie for breakfast, guess who else doesn’t?
After asking for all of your advice on my Facebook page on how to get my children to eat salad, I was inspired to try some of your ideas. If you don’t like my Facebook page, by the way, you should check it out! Some great conversations go on over there. Oh! And I installed a Facebook Like Box over–>in the sidebar, so if you don’t already, you can simply click like right there. Easy! Thanks for your support!
Anyway, back to my salad issue. I took all of your great advice and made Meghan a small salad with her lunch. It included spinach leaves, defrosted blueberries and raspberries, and shredded cheddar cheese. I didn’t use a dressing at all, but instead let the juice from the defrosted berries coat the leaves.
She was not happy about having salad with her lunch. There was a lot of groaning and complaining. I finally got her to try a bite and she gagged and spit it out. She’s quite dramatic–we think she may have a future in acting. I tried to talk to her about why I want her eating greens, and it helped a little. She decided she’d try another bite, but she wanted just a plain spinach leaf. She ate that with a “this is gross” look on her face as she chewed. She finally swallowed it and agreed to eat one more leaf. So that was my big triumph. She ate two baby spinach leaves. Womp womp woooommmmp.
That same day I was browsing through the archives and came across this recipe for Spinach Nuggets. It was first published in March 2010 (!!) and I’d totally forgotten about it. I made these a bunch when Meghan was a toddler, but not since Luke was born. It was time to make them again! If Meghan and Luke won’t eat salads, maybe they’ll eat salad in the form of a nugget, I thought.
So how did it go? Well, let me start with Luke. I thought I’d escaped the toddler picky stage with him since Meghan hit hers at 2 1/2 and he was still happily eating most foods at that age. Well, apparently his picky stage started at 3 because his eating habits have changed. He took one look at the spinach nugget and said, “No! That’s too yucky!” I hear that line about fifty times a day lately. After I reminded him he’d never had spinach nuggets before, he replied, “No! It’s dirty!” Everything is dirty these days. Don’t you dare give that kid a banana with the smallest brown spot. So the introduction of spinach nuggets went nowhere fast with Luke.
Next up: Meghan. She looked at the spinach nugget on her dinner plate and scrunched up her nose, asking “Ugh! What’s that?” I told her it was a spinach nugget. She quickly replied, “No, I don’t want that.” I require Meghan to try everything I serve her at dinner. She doesn’t have to finish it if she doesn’t like it, but she does have to try it.
So she ate everything else on her plate first, then asked if she could cut the nugget. The nugget was cut into fourths and then she tried a bite. She closed her eyes and her body wrenched like it normally does when she is ready to gag and spit something out, but then she stopped. She opened her eyes and a tiny smile came over her face. She didn’t say anything, but quietly kept chewing. Without prompting, she ate a second piece. Then the third and then the fourth. The whole time she was looking at me with a sheepish grin. Then she announced, “Okay, I like spinach if you put it in a spinach nugget. But I still don’t like salad!”
While I couldn’t get Luke to try his (we don’t reinforce the “you must try everything” rule until around 4 years old–in our experience it’s pointless with a young toddler and don’t want mealtime battles), I was happy I found a new way to get at least one of my children to eat greens. I won’t give up on Luke. Once he decides he wants to try the nuggets, I’m confident that he’ll like them. He’ll get there.
I’m not including the dipping sauce I included in the original recipe because I ate these with ranch dressing and it was PERFECT. Although I did make these with the kids in mind, I loved them and found them addicting with the ranch dressing. My weirdo kids aren’t into ranch, but if yours are, serve these with ranch! I think these would also be tasty with a marinara sauce. The spinach taste is very mild here and the breadcrumbs and cheese give these a nice texture. If you want a new way to get your kids to eat greens, give these spinach nuggets a try! Here’s what some of my readers who have tried these have had to say about them:
I just have to tell you that my 21 month old son is absolutely crazy for these. He can eat an entire batch in 2 days. He loves the whole process, including mixing, “patting” them down and watching them cook. He runs through the house screaming “Nuggies” while they cook and it’s torture to wait for them to cool so he can eat them. THANK YOU!
Thanks so much for this recipe. Tried it with my toddler tonight and he ate a whole handful of spinach without pulling the ‘face’. He LOVED them!such a good idea xPrint
Look Again: Spinach Nuggets
3.8 from 4 reviews
These homemade spinach nuggets are perfect for toddlers, kids, or adults! They are totally addicting dipped in ranch dressing. This is a great way to eat more greens!
1/4 cup almonds
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs, divided
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar, but any kind will be fine)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
2. Put the almonds in a food processor and process until they are a fine crumb (you could probably use almond meal instead if you prefer).
3. Add the spinach and pulse until the spinach is finely chopped and you have a green crumb-like mixture. Set aside. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can do the chopping by hand. Just chop everything very finely.
4. Whisk the two eggs in a medium bowl. Add the spinach-almond mixture, 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, flaxseed, basil, oregano, and cheese and mix well.
5. Place the remaining cup of breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Using your hands, form a small portion of the spinach mixture into a ball and roll it in the breadcrumbs until it is fully covered. Press it into a flat nugget shape and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until you use all of the mixture.
6. Bake in the preheated oven 18-25 minutes*, turning the nuggets over half way through the baking time (optional. I forgot the second batch I made and they were fine…)
7. Allow to cool and serve. Enjoy!
*The original recipe said 25 minutes. The first time I made these again I cooked them for 25 minutes and they seemed slightly overcooked. The second time I made them i cooked them for 18 minutes and they were perfect. Ovens vary, so start checking them at 18 minutes.
Keywords: spinach nuggets