Says my 5 year old at dinner last night. No lie. What’s my trick? It’s easy.
1. Texture. I happen to love chopped salads. Something about the mouth feel of small tiny bites of food. You can almost eat salad with a spoon. No large cumbersome pieces. No unnecessary and annoying chewing that takes forever. Food feels more manageable in my mouth, and this may be more inviting for little mouths.
2. Flavor. When salads are chopped small, it increases the surface area of the food so that more dressing penetrates each piece of food. As long as salads are not overtly swimming in dressing, the overall flavor seems to have a greater punch.
3. Taste. Ok, salad dressings count. For myself I am happy with olive oil, fresh squeeze lemon, salt and pepper. My three kids have different tastes. Our salad dressing varies from Fanny’s lite Italian, to Creamy Miso Dressing, to Annie’s Goddess Dressing, to Classic Ranch dressing. (I am aware of the massive nutritive differences in these options, and I am more focused on my children eating salad and less on how the eat it.)
4. Frequency. I serve salad often. It is the nourishment that kicks off our family meal. My family expects it and have gotten used to it. We are proud salad eaters.
5. Order. Salad is put out before the rest of the meal. Consider how we as adults eat…. If offered savory Mac and cheese or flavorful appetizers before fresh bright vegetables, even WE may opt for the comfort food first. Set the salad FIRST and orient your palate to craving fresh vegetables. Your taste buds will thank you.
6. Ingredients. It’s true that my kids wouldn’t touch a tomato until they grew their own sweet grape tomatoes. It became a game changer in my home. And I would often hear “Mommy are these from the garden?” Before my very eyes I watched my tomato wary boys convert to asking for our garden tomatoes. Consider growing your own vegetables and herbs. Involve your kids in the food shopping. Let THEM pick which pepper to try. Have THEM suggest which new vegetable to add.
Bottom line- Make salad a habit.