Salads: Enjoy a Rainbow of Flavors This Spring
As spring gets into full swing in Southern Mississippi, you may be savoring the sights of the first boldly colored azaleas in bloom, the sounds of birds singing in the morning, and the scents offreshly mowed lawns all over your neighborhood. When it comes to the taste of spring, though, nothing beats a crisp, fresh salad that’s full of flavorful fruits or vegetables and topped with a favorite dressing.
It’s no secret that salads are great for you. They’re dense in nutrients, with greens offering iron, calcium, and B vitamins. As compelling as salads are to adults with varied palates, getting kids to eat salad can feel more like pulling teeth. However, with a little creativity and some tried-and-true techniques, your kids might soon be asking when they can have salad again!
I asked Jackie Day about motivating kids to eat those nutrient-rich salads. As a health educator and author of “The Vegan Way,” she knows a lot about inspiring healthy choices.
“Engage them in the kitchen,” Day advises. “When kids are involved in the process of creating their meals, researchers found they not only increased their consumption of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber, but were also more willing to try new foods.”
She said she saw this in action firsthand when teaching a cooking course at a school.
Help kids take control of the salads that they eat. You may offer your kids a wide variety of choices for salad toppings. Start by taking children to the grocery store with you, then let them choose from anything in the fruit and vegetable aisle to add to their salad. Buy a small portion and let your kids feel out whether they ultimately like that combo in their salad. As they learn about which toppings they love, they may want to be more experimental with trying new vegetables and types of greens.
“As soon as kids step out of the classroom, and into the kitchen, they’re anxious to try anything, as long as they’re involved in the process,” Day stressed. “Another helpful tip is to chop fruits and veggies rather than leave them whole. It’s good to focus on presentation too, by providing an assortment of contrasting colors and textures.”
Day encourages a rainbow of colors and flavors. What’s her personal favorite salad ingredient?
“Depending on what’s in season, and what’s handy in the fridge, I like to add a combo of romaine lettuce, purple kale, organic baby spinach, red bell peppers, avocados, purple onions, mushrooms, kalamata olives, and tomatoes,” she said, “Sometimes, if I want a little bit of sweetness, I’ll chop up a ripe pear, or crisp apple, too. A dash of fortified nutritional yeast is nice for ‘cheesy’ taste, giving the added bonus of a vitamin B-12 boost.”
Add in some antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables for the flavors and health benefits. It’s been reported that black plums have over 4,500 antioxidants. Add them along with raisins, blackberries, orange slices, kale, beets, corn, and chopped eggplant for splashes of sweetness to your salads.
Ultimately, one of the coolest things about salads is that there’s so much room for variety. You can have salads often, yet you can enjoy different flavors every time. With different combinations of flavors, you may serve up salads as an appetizer, side order, main course, or even dessert!
When little ones feel connected with the salads on their plates, they’re likely to give the varied flavors a chance. So, head into spring by immersing your kids in the process of prepping their own salads and enjoying the rewards of tasty toppings.
By making eating well pleasurable, you may also be guiding them towards healthier choices throughout their lives. What’s not to love about that?
Robin Raven is a children’s book author who was born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She often has her feet on a dance floor, her nose in a book, or her arms around a rescued animal.