Are you ever puzzled by the conundrum of getting your little ones to eat a hearty amount of veggies each day? I know I am! I’ve contrived several plans and theories of veggie consumption for my children (and for myself, let’s be honest, we parents really need to work at getting all our veggies in too!), and have found several ways to maximize the enjoyment of vegetables in our household! These tips include anything from blending, finely chopping and incorporating, smoothies and dips, to growing vegetables and having your child choose vegetables to purchase at a farmer’s market or store. Many of these will have their opportunity to be featured here with recipes and tips, but today we will explore having our children create their own salad! I can take no credit for this particular discovery I am sharing with you today; my 6 year old son stumbled upon this entertaining, creative, helpful and healthful way to get his veggies in one evening around our taco-night table. After finishing a taco, my son wanted to imitate his mom and dad making taco salad over a bed of spinach and kale. We had avocado, grapes, salsa and carrots on the table and he went to town creating a Ninja Turtle – Michaelangelo to be exact!
As he was creating, our only boundary line was he could only dress his salad with as much as he could eat. We love creativity and food art, but not at the expense of wasting veggies! He happily obliged, designed with great care and attention to detail, and after requesting a picture be taken and sent to his friends who love Ninja Turtles, he munched each vegetable (and fruit in this case because he included grapes) until his plate was clear! He was proud of his creation and enjoyed consuming those particular vegetables far more because of his creative design.
Handmade salads can be incorporated into our regular meal rotation by simply providing a colorful variety of choices of vegetables to decorate a bed of greens. You may even find your child eating a never-before-considered vegetable simply because he or she needed to include that particular color or design into their masterpiece!
Try giving your child free-reign over their creation, from the amount of greens used to each veggie topping. If your child needs some prompting, try creating a picture or pattern of your own for your child to emulate or glean ideas from. Some nights may yield a variety of veggies consumed, while others may be more monochromatic in theme, but either way the family can look forward to admiring one another’s artwork and look forward to eating their vegetables.
Keep the preparation for this as simple as possible. Sometimes our best ideas get bogged down by the potential time commitment, mess, or fear it won’t work for our family the same way it has for others. Even if you only have lettuce and carrots, or lettuce and tomatoes, kids are creative! If your child is learning to chop with a knife, this is a great opportunity for him or her to help with dinner prep!
While we’re at it, I realize this is a post about salads but I’ll state the obvious anyway, that this can also be accomplished with no lettuce at all! Any variety of vegetables arranged in any kind of pattern is a fun and healthful addition to any lunch or dinner. Enjoy creating and feasting on the endless masterpieces vegetables produce! (Ha! No pun intended!)