Do you wish your children enjoyed salad? I love a good salad, especially in the summer months. The possibilities are endless, and they can act as a great tool for getting lots of great nutrients into our bellies as well as our children’s. Here are 8 simple tips to help raise a salad lover that have worked with my children and hopefully will be helpful for yours too!
1. Start Small
Getting kids to eat a salad doesn’t happen overnight. Start by just chopping up one or two veggies you know your child already enjoys. Then slowly, over time, add one new ingredient (lettuce, nuts, cheese, shredded carrots, etc). It may take a while for kids to get use to mixing the ingredients. My daughter loves cucumbers so we started with just cucumbers, then added just a few small pieces of lettuce, and a couple red peppers. The goal is to get them use to the idea of eating “salad,” even if it is just 3 cucumbers and 1 piece of lettuce. Overtime, the salad will grow into looking more like a traditional salad.
2. Try Romaine First
When it comes to raising a salad lover, texture is everything for a lot of children. I recommend starting with romaine since it tends to be crunchy and crisp. Although the bagged lettuce is super convenient, it can be limp and less appealing. I like to prep the lettuce at the beginning of the week by washing, drying, chopping, and putting it in a big glass bowl with a lid. I find that if I don’t do this step at the beginning of the week, we don’t eat salad during the week since it involves more work and time which many of us don’t have.
3. Play the Taste Test Game
We all know a good dressing makes or breaks the salad! I recommend buying a couple different salad dressings and/or making a couple to try. Have fun playing the Taste Testing Game. My girls love this! Cut up raw veggie sticks and pour 2 to 3 dressings into little taste testing dishes. Have the family taste each one and rate it from 1 to 10 and then put them in order from favorite to least favorite. We love Primal Kitchen dressing as they are made with avocado oil instead of highly processed oils like soy, canola and sunflower. The dressing are also free of sugar and have very clean, simple ingredient lists, which I’m always a fan of. Dressings are also very simple to make. My family loves Easy Dill Dressing.
4. Serve salad as an appetizer
I try to serve salads first. Hopefully, your children are hungry and will gobble up the salad since it is the only option on the table at first. Give them a few minutes to try the salad and then serve the rest of the meal.
5. Try a salad bar
Children love to have choice. The more autonomy we give them the better. Set out a bowl of lettuce and your favorite toppings in individual bowls. We love shredded carrots, cucumbers, peppers, black olives, cheese, sunflower seeds, walnuts, hard boiled eggs, turkey, chickpeas, and a couple of dressings. Let your child serve themselves. This allows them to choose what they want, how much they want, and hopefully help get your kids to eat salad in no time!
6. Let them use their fingers
When children are young, let them use their fingers. Sometimes, eating salad with a fork can be tricky. Fill a small dish with dressing and let them dip their veggies.
7. Get your children involved in prep work
Making a salad can be a lot of work, so I encourage you to get the whole family involved. This will help you, but also will help to get your kids in the kitchen. Click here to read why this is key to raising a healthy eater from the start. Have children wash, dry, and rip the lettuce. Teach them how to use a salad spinner which is always fun for little ones. Have them grate carrots or cut veggies using a child friendly knife.
8. Serve salads consistently
Servings salads on a regular basis is key in raising a salad lover. Even if they aren’t eating it, they are seeing the salad and watching others around them eating and enjoying salad. The more we can model eating salads, the more likely children are to try it. Make a big bowl of salad for yourself and allow your kids to pick out of your bowl. I have a 6 and 9 year old and they still pick off my plate, which is a great way for them to try new foods.
Remember that raising a salad lover may take weeks, months or even years. Every child is different. I always like to remind others and myself, that raising healthy eaters is a marathon, not a sprint. It will happen. It just takes consistency, time, and a whole lot of PATIENCE!
2 opportunities to work with me and get your kids eating healthy foods:
If you are looking for fun ways to get your children involved in the kitchen, I’m offering a 3-week, virtual “Kids in the Kitchen with Misa” cooking series which starts May 11th at 4pm. We will be making no bake energy balls, no bake vegan cheese cake tarts, and veggie bugs. All the recipes are free of gluten, dairy, and processed sugar. For more details check out my event.
If you are looking to take your family’s health to the next level and transition to a more whole foods lifestyle, I’m also offering a 3-week, self-guided course, “Raising Healthy Eaters with Misa.” The course is designed to help shape children’s taste to appreciate real foods and help increase their veggie consumption in a fun, no pressure environment. For details check out my event page or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to meet you where you are and help make small, simple, sustainable changes, creating healthy habits for a life time. Hope to see you and your children in the kitchen soon!