No this is not me tricking you into telling you that my kids don’t eat salad after all! This is actually one of their favorite nights of the week, salad night. The trick…my little secret that I am sharing with all of you is it’s all about the toppings!
You need to get creative and find ingredients that your kids like to eat in their daily life and find a way to adapt that to a salad topping. For example my children are OBSESSED with ants on a log, they would eat them all the time, it’s the only way I could get my son to even touch celery. Then we found this awesome You Tube Channel Mind Over Munch where she makes healthy foods or a new spin on a classic and we fell upon this sandwich, their new favorite Ants on a Log Sandwich. You think I am kidding but we make these several days a week, my son would eat it every single day in his lunch box. Letting them watch the process of creating this sandwich led them to want to try it and turned out to be a family favorite. Feel free to watch it with your kiddos too! So I took that idea of celery and raisins; something that they already loved and added those to a bowl with apples and you got a salad topping! If your children are a little more adventurous like my daughter you can even add sliced almonds as well, my son…well not so much!
If lettuce is the issue there are 2 things you can do, one eat the salad as a wrap with a less lettuce or deconstructed on their plate. Or two the other option is to get them used to lettuce, we started by adding it to deli meat sandwiches and wraps. When we eat grilled chicken wraps or tacos something they love have them add the lettuce and get used to it with foods they already enjoy. The other thing that was a process was finding a dressing that my son would eat. He reminds me a lot of my sister growing up and this is one of those times. She would not even touch a plate with dressing on it when we were little the smell of the dressing made her sick! I on the other hand loved it, especially Caesar which is my daughter’s favorite as well. Wegmans (our local Grocery store) has a yogurt based Caesar dressing that makes it easier to not feel bad about her using it on her salad because that’s where all the hidden calories are. We finally found a dressing that my son liked as well, it is also from Wegmans its Parmesan Italian he uses just a little but the cheese flavor is what sold him.
Have lots of options on the table of things for them to try. Does your child like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, bean anything healthy they will eat can become a topping for a salad make sure you have a lot of variety on the table and mix it up. Also make sure there is cheese involved, at least with my kids this works!
I also like to cook chicken all at once to have on hand for these quick dinners. I buy a club pack of chicken breasts season them with some salt pepper and a little olive oil and grill them up. Then I sliced them up and label freezer bags and put them in my freezer until I need them. They are great to have on hand for salads, chicken wraps, pasta dishes, quesadillas etc, all I do is add the frozen chicken to a pan and allow it to reheat, turns out delicious! Taking the time to do this on a Sunday saves me a ton of time during the week. The fun for the kids is in having all these options in front of them and allowing them to make their own flavor combinations. It gets them involved in the process and having choices makes them more likely to eat it.
Some ideas for salad toppings:
Veggies such as: Cherry tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Snap Peas, Green beans, Shredded carrots (everyone likes this in our house so we mix it with the lettuce)
Fruit such as: Apples, Pears, Berries (use what is in season)
Fun Toppings such as: Raisins or Craisins, Almonds, Walnuts
Cheese (its a must in our house): Shredded cheddar or Colby jack, Feta, Goat Cheese, Parmesan – whatever your family likes
Non Meat Protein: Chic peas , Black beans , lentils, Hard boiled eggs
Meat (if not going for Vegetarian option) Grilled chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Fish, Even a scoop of chicken salad or tuna would be good
My son is obsessed with croutons so this was one of the ways to get him to eat salad however we insist that they are added in moderation as well as the cheese!
My husband and I love beets and avocado so we always add those when we have them on hand as well.
You could start the tradition as a taco salad since most kiddos love tacos! Season up your chicken with some cumin and paprika, add black beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, crush up some tortilla chips and top with mild salsa and sour cream (or trick them by using plain greek yogurt).
If you try this at home let me know how it works out! Remember mommas it’s all about them toppings be creative!