What parent doesn’t want their children to like (and eat) salads. They are easy and delicious. And a great way to enjoy vegetables without having to turn on the oven or stove.
But getting kids on the salad kick isn’t always easy. Like all things related to food acceptance in little ones, it takes time and exposure. But what if there was a way to make salads so irresistible that they’d HAVE to take a bite. And then they’d get hooked!
I reached out to others around the web and got a good list going. But I’m greedy so make sure you leave your family favorite salad in the comments.
1. Strawberry Surprise: I think fruit in salads make them less intimidating to young children. For this salad you can use spinach, spring mix or romaine. Mix greens with almonds (sliced almonds from Trader Joes are perfect), chopped strawberries, feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
Experiment with different fruit, nuts, cheese and greens. Another variation includes grape halves, walnut pieces and feta. Watch your little ones pick out the fruit and eventually move on to the greens.
2. Scrumptious Blueberry Salad: Amy from Super Healthy Kids admits that it took a long time for her kids to start eating salad. But she kept serving it year after year until they became full-on salad eaters.
-9 cups mixed greens
-1 cup fresh or thawed blueberries
-2 TBS sunflower kernels
-4 TBS Canola Oil
-2 TBS Sugar
-3 TBS cider vinegar
-1 TBS Orange juice
-1/2 tsp ground mustard
-1/4 tsp salt
-1-2 avocados, diced
-Cherry tomatoes, quartered
-Red onion diced
-Parmesan cheese, shaved
-Fran’s Simple Vinaigrette — 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 1/2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar, 1/2 red wine vinegar, 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp sugar, sea salt and Freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Make the dressing 30 minutes before serving to maximize the flavor.
4. Mediterranean Bean Salad: This one is from super-creative mom, Stephanie at Foodie-isms. Kids who like beans will enjoy this salad. You can make it fun for them by letting them spear the beans with a toothpick.
-2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained
-2 cans of pitted black olives, chopped
-2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
-2 15.5 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (with basil, garlic and oregano), drained
-1 medium red onion, diced
-1 fresh bunch of cilantro, chopped
-8 oz. of Ken’s Steak House Lite Caesar Dressing
Combine artichokes, olives, black beans, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes together in a large bowl. Add red onion, cilantro, and caesar dressing. Mix well. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
This makes a great salad served over fresh greens or could also be served as an appetizer with Torilla chips (Tostitos with a Hint of Line). Best made the night before serving.
5. Chicken Caesar Salad: When asking around for kid-friendly salad ideas, ceaser salad kept popping up. Aviva from The Six O’Clock Scramble was kind enough to share her tasty recipe.
Ingredients: (Makes 6 Servings)
-1 – 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or meatless chicken strips or patties
-4 – 5 TBS. olive oil
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/8 tsp. garlic powder
-2 large slices sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, or buy packaged croutons
-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
-2 TBS. reduced fat mayonnaise
-1/2 tsp. minced garlic (about 1 clove)
-1/2 lemon, juice only, 2 Tbsp. juice
-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 tsp. anchovy paste, or use mashed capers
-1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut or ripped into bite-sized pieces (8 – 10 cups)
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees if you are making your own croutons. Cut each chicken breast crosswise into thin strips. Place the chicken in a flat dish, drizzle it with 1 Tbsp. oil, the salt and the garlic powder, and flip the chicken several times to coat it. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chicken, turning occasionally, until it is cooked through, 5 – 7 minutes. (Set some cooked chicken aside for non-salad eaters, if necessary.)
To make the croutons, in a medium bowl, toss the bread cubes with 1 – 2 Tbsp. oil and the kosher salt. Place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake them in the preheated oven for 3-5 minutes, until they are slightly crisp and browned. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Set them aside.
To make the dressing, thoroughly whisk together the mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, the minced garlic, the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and anchovy paste.
Just before serving, vigorously toss the lettuce, cheese, chicken, croutons and dressing (you probably won’t need to use all the dressing) in a large salad bowl.
-1 (or more cucumber)
-3 TBS. rice wine vinegar
-1 TBS. vegetable oil (optional)
– a few drops sesame oil
-2 tsp table sugar (can adjust all ingredients to taste…)
Peel, and slice one cucumber in half. May leave the seeds in or scoop them out with a teaspoon. (Some find the seeds are hard to digest, some kids may not like the seeds.) Slice the cucumber thinly. May also add chopped red pepper for color, or shallots (mild onion) or even some napa cabbage (sticking with the Asian influence.) We all enjoy plain cucumber for now.
Put all other ingredients into bowl big enough for the salad. Have the child hold the spoon over the bowl (in case of spills.) You pour the liquid into the spoon and have them tip it into the bowl. Kids can often scoop sugar out by themselves. It doesn’t have to be exact here. Have child whisk the dressing then add the vegetables. Chill and serve.
7. The Deconstructed Dipping Salad: Amy Marlow, MPH, RD says the only way she can get her 2 and 5 year olds to eat salad is to deconstruct it:
“I tear up pieces of romaine lettuce into one bowl, and then depending on what I have on hand for me and my husband’s grown-up salad, I provide a small assortment of other vegetables as well – bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. I give each child a small bowl of balsamic vinaigrette to dip into. My 2 and 5 year old will only eat salad this way – when mixed together in a bowl they get too overwhelmed and it’s harder for them to use utensils on the lettuce than to use their little hands.”
8. Waldorf Salad: Sandra K. Nissenberg, MS, RD, author of several child nutrition books says kids love this crunchy salad.
Ingredients (Makes 6 Servings)
-2 red apples, cored and chopped
-2 TBS orange juice
-2 stalks celery, chopped
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/4 cup mayonnaise
Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Adapted from: Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won’t Trade, Sandra K. Nissenberg, MS, RD, and Barbara N. Pearl, MS, RD, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
For more easy meal ideas, see Maryann’s book The Family Dinner Solution: How to Create a Rotation of Dinners Meals Your Family Will Love