Salad Days

It finally happened, yes it's true...my child loves salad!! I knew the day would come, she always liked her veggies and was OK with chomping on lettuce, but a salad was not on the menu for her. Salad is a tough one for kids, it can be acidic, or slightly soggy or just green! The advice I give in my cookbook Toddler Cafe is to present some form of salad every night.  Put it on the plate, just a few leaves and cut up veggies let your child get used to seeing the veggies there but don't force it. You may end up eating a few extra veggies while you are cleaning up because they probably will leave them untouched every night for years....but...eventually they will eat it. (fingers crossed)
Another tip is to use very crisp lettuce like baby Romaine and cut it small. I like to cut the length of the leaf and then across to make smaller bite size pieces. Having to manage large leaves of lettuce can be un-fun for little mouths, so chop all the ingredients small.

 Of course it was not all my hard work and determination to get her to like salad, it was school! One day the second grade made a salad, they were so excited it was as if they had just all gotten a candy bar or something!! All 17 of them came screaming in the class room, "LOOK WHAT WE MADE, LOOK WHAT WE MADE, WE MADE A SALAD!!!!"
I just happened to be in the classroom for reading groups and got the witness the total frenzy of excited eight year olds first hand.  It was so cute, they were so proud of harvesting and making the salad including the dressing.

That night when Kidlet came home she asked if she could make a salad for our dinner. She has always cooked with me and always created her own "recipes" but she hadn't really made anything fully edible yet on her own. I said with gusto, "sure you can make the salad tonight!" I fully thought it would be horrible, I mean she has been making salad for her pet rat but now she's working on one we are going to eat!! I knew there would be a mess, corn smashed on my socks and dried up lettuce to be scraped off the floor but I didn't care.

She chose her ingredients and I helped get the appropriate tools for her. I showed her how to scrape the food in to the bowl from the cutting board instead of manhandling it in small fistfuls into the bowl.
She made the dressing with lemon, olive oil, salt and a few drops of Balsamic vinegar. Her veggies were, sweet corn, broccoli, carrots, lettuces and parsley, all chopped well.
She tossed it and served it and was beaming and proud and truth be told it was really good!!
Now she wants to make the salad every Friday night, we dubbed it Shabbat Salad and she is in charge of  that part of the meal now.  We always say what we are happy about on Friday dinner and on that particular Friday I was happy my daughter was exited about salad!

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Michelle (What's Cooking with Kids) said...

Yay! You have always had such a great attitude with her in the kitchen - it makes all the difference. She is a proud and confident girl!

Tracy B. said...

Wow! That's an awesome idea to have the child make the salad to get them interested in healthy foods!
Of course, I have to admit,I wouldn't touch a salad as a kid, but now I love them!