Salad is one of the healthiest ways to eat your vegetables. Yet, many parents have a hard time helping their kid eat salad. I suspect for some kids, salad is an acquired taste, and that’s okay, as long as you keep working toward this goal. Eating salad is a great way to meet a variety of nutrient requirements, including fiber.
Try one of these strategies to coax your little or big one to eat salad:
Start ‘em Young: Let your toddler try finely shredded lettuce tossed in dressing; blanch veggies to soften them a bit, chop them up, and place atop shredded lettuce for self-feeding; or jullienne cucumbers, carrots or apple and toss together with dressing for a flavorful and fresh dish. Early toddlerhood is an important time to introduce a wide variety of flavors, as children are more willing to accept new foods than any other time in life. You can read more about introducing vegetables from my writing partner Maryann here.
Let Them Dip: You don’t have to toss veggies in salad dressing, you can let your child dip salad greens in dressing or yogurt-based dips instead. This makes eating “salad” an experience, and more interesting. Young children like the process of dipping and this helps with fine motor skills.
Create a New Name: Rename greens to capture a child’s attention and peak their interest. Bunny food, lizard leaves and power greens are just some ideas to make eating salad more interesting. Studies show that renaming vegetables with intriguing, fun names increases children’s consumption of them.
Add Fruit: Many kids love fruit, so add it to a salad! Strawberries on spinach, clementines on baby kale, and blueberries on mixed greens are all yummy ways to spice up the color and flavor of a salad. Dried fruit like raisins or cherries work great too. Making a salad colorful will peek a child’s interest!
Build Your Own: Similar to the Dinner Bar (read Chopped Salad), when you prepare the ingredients and separate them, your child can assemble a salad with the items he prefers. He may begin with the carrots at first, but eventually after seeing all the components, he’ll start branching out and adding more. A ‘build your own’ approach transfers the control to the child, again, increasing the odds that he will eat what he created.
Involve Them in the Process: Washing lettuce, tearing it, chopping vegetables and tossing a salad are all ways to involve your child in a hands-on activity. Research shows this type of engagement creates ‘buy-in’ and a greater likelihood of participation, which in this case means eating.
Get Cheesy: For cheese eaters, add shredded cheese on top of greens, mix it together with shredded veggies, or melt cheese with spinach leaves in an omelet or quesadilla for a nutritious boost.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on the notion of raising a salad eater! Exposure to salad, even if your child isn’t eating it, is a step in the right direction. The more you can involve your child in the process, and entice her with nutrient-rich additions, the more success you will have!
To make trying these tips a reality, the good folks at Organic Girl have partnered with me to offer 2 coupons for salad greens and 2 free recipes to each of 3 winners!
Organic Girl offers “good clean greens”–crisp, fresh, wholesome and tasty—and grown without any synthetic pesticides. They also triple wash their greens and package them in recycled clamshells. I love Organic Girl and I hope you do too!
- Mandatory Entry: Tell me why you want to win Organic Girl greens or tell me your biggest challenge with getting your child to eat salad.
- Second Entry: Sign up for the Fearless Feeding Newsletter, Like Fearless Feeding on Facebook, or pre-order the book! Tell me what you did in the comments below.
- Third entry: Like Organic Girl on Facebook. Tell me what you did below.
- Fourth entry: Like Just the Right Byte on Facebook, tweet this post, or share it on Facebook. Tell me you did in the comments.
This giveaway will close on Friday, March 22 at midnight. You must be 18 to enter, and live in the US. Winners will be determined using www.random.org and announced on the Just the Right Byte Facebook page.
For a double-dip giveaway, visit Maryann’s site—she is giving away KIND bars!
This giveaway is closed.
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: March 15, 2013
Updated on: July 24, 2019