Homer Simpson once said you don’t win friends with salad. Well, I’ve got news for him! You can win friends with salad, or more importantly, win over your children! Let me show you how…
Introducing your kids to the virtues of salad can be challenging but well worth persevering. I have found over the years, it’s not so much about the vegetables, but the way I present it. Here are my tried and tested tips for encouraging little people to start munching and a delicious but simple salad recipe from my book, Kids in the Kitchen…
Top 5 tips for getting kids to eat salad
1. Use ingredients they like!
Most children will have a few favourites when it comes to upholding the fresh is best policy. Perhaps they like carrot better raw than cooked or they really adore olives. Maybe they hate rocket but love baby spinach or will devour grated beetroot but make vomiting noises at the thought of it roasted. Add in lots of what they like and slowly introduce a new ingredient each time.
2. Marketing and presentation
Is a salad still a salad by any other name? You bet it is! Call it whatever you like and present it in a way that appeals to your kids. My children prefer it sliced up on a platter with a dressing to dip in rather than served in a bowl all mixed together. At dinner, I will often separate all the ingredients on a large plate and allow them to ‘serve themselves’ as long as everyone chooses at least three veggies and no, that does not include tomato sauce!
Adding crunchy nuts and seeds, sweet grated apple or pear, sliced hard boiled egg and cubes of good quality cheese not only make salads more kid friendly, it upnourishes them and boosts nutrient content as well.
4. Offer it when kids are most hungry
I find the best time to get salad veggies into my kids is when they are starving – usually after school. Making a big tasting plate filled with sliced carrot, cucumber, capsicum (notoriously a hard sell veggie) baby corn, crunchy cos lettuce leaves, baby mushrooms, celery and smashed avocado or home made hummus to dip them in along with some crackers works a treat. Does it really matter when kids eat veggies? Not in my book!
5. Get kids involved + keep trying
It takes kids several tries to really like and feel safe about eating a new food. Let them get involved with growing some basic salad veggies in your garden at home or shopping for seasonal fresh foods at the local market. Allow them to play with them, taste them and experiment with different ways of eating them – like with a dip or dressing, in a sandwich, wrap or taco. Most importantly, keep offering it to them. It may take some time but eventually, they will come to enjoy and appreciate crunchy, fresh, good for their bodies goodness.
Summer Strawberry Salad
With juicy summer strawberries, creamy goat cheese or feta and a deliciously sweet balsamic dressing, what’s not to love about this seasonal super salad? And…it’s simple enough for the kids to make.
Serves 4-6 (depending on age and level of salad resistance)
4 cups of baby spinach
2 cups of strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half vertically
50g goat cheese or your favourite creamy feta (I always go for greek)
1/4 cup of toasted walnuts
What to do:
Arrange the spinach leaves on a platter, then artfully and beautifully decorate with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with the balsamic dressing and serve immediately.
1 T of balsamic vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T maple syrup
1/4 tsp good quality sea salt
Place all ingredients in a jar and secure the lid. Shake well to combine before drizzling over your salad. Dressing will keep, sealed in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you have any tips on encouraging children to eat salad, I’d love to hear them! For more ideas and inspiration about healthy, whole food for families, take a look at my eBooks here.
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