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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

There really aren’t many ways to entice children to eat kale and swiss chard, so I decided to follow some tried and true advice and incorporate it with some other ingredients that are already a home run for them. I can remember penny candy and pixie sticks from when I was a child, and today the choices for candy abound. I like to believe that back then, our parents were not as concerned as parents today because they didn’t know that much about the dangers of artificial ingredients. Scientists now know what breaks down in our bodies and causes us to age or become ill. Studies are emerging more and more about cenetarian residents of places like Japan, Greece and Costa Rica citing longevity and despite the the differences in culture, the findings are not ironic; all of them lead surprisingly similar lifestyles. Not surprising are statistics such as one by the National Center for Biotechnology that only between 5-10% of all cancer is hereditary. So if 240,000 people died of cancer in one year and only 24,000 of those cases were genetic, then what about the other 216,000 people? Where did the cancer inside their bodies come from? Two hundred and sixteen thousand people.

Here is a nutritional debate you can’t ignore. While there certainly isn’t one miracle approach to better health and longevity, what we do know is that a combination of healthful food, exercise, rest, mindfulness and love all contribute to a healthy lifestyle. I feel confident that most of us do a good job of instilling values in our children such as service to others, humility and compassion, but I truly believe that healthy eating is more of a struggle. Children, like us, are bombarded by the viewpoints of the media, the choices of peers, and even institutional guidelines like that of the USDA, the organization responsible for what gets served in our school cafeterias. My view is that true healthcare reform doesn’t start in Washington, it starts in your own kitchen.

Being mindful of the fact that most children would rather pick up a pixie stick over a vegetable, my goal with this recipe is to introduce you to a delicious way to incorporate the bitter, more obscure vegetables that you might not otherwise have chosen. You just might be surprised how this one will disappear before the pita chips do.

2 cups or large bunches of kale and/or mixed with swiss chard
2 cups or bunches of baby spinach
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese
2 cups of shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 10-oz jar of marinated artichokes

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until chunky and incorporated. Bake in a 375 degree oven in a bread bowl or sprayed baking dish for about 20 minutes.

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