Salads don't have to be uninspiring, wet, limp, lettuce leaves tossed into a bowl. They can be healthy and fun to make, and may even tantalise your toddler's taste buds.
We all remember the words: "Eat up your greens," and being forced to eat something you really don't want to. You may believe you have a vegetable phobic toddler, but this may not be the case. By gradually encouraging and experimenting with healthy salads, in time, you might be surprised by what they will eat.
We've come up with 10 easy yet creative, kid-friendly salad recipes for the summer. Even the pickiest eaters will ask for seconds!
How Do You Get Kids To Eat Salads?
Get them involved: With a spoon they can help scoop out a gorgeous green avocado. If they can touch and prepare their salad, they are more likely to eat it because they will be proud of what they've made.
Be positive: When trying a new food for the first time with your child, be relaxed and make the experience fun. If you are stressed they will pick up on this.
Be colourful: It's been said that we "eat with our eyes" so if food looks colourful, appetising and appealing, your child is more likely to be interested. So make sure food literally looks good enough to eat.
From What Age Can Children Enjoy Salads?
When your baby is over six months old, they may be ready to try finger food. Soft salad toppings like a tomato, avocado strips or thin, well-cooked carrot batons are good starters -- food that can be grabbed.
At 16+ months, continue to offer the soft salad toppings, but you can now introduce items like shredded raw carrot (whole uncooked carrot is not recommended for children under four as it can be a choking hazard). Offer a dip like hummus; your child will enjoy the contrasting textures in their mouth. Be careful when introducing foods that may trigger allergic reactions, such as nuts or seeds. Give tiny amounts in the first instance.
At 18+ months, or once your child is successfully chewing, make a salad with shredded crunchy lettuce and experiment with soft salad toppings. You can even try a healthy salad wrap.
If you want your toddler to eat salad, the best ways is for them to see you eating too, so they can copy you! Be patient, as many toddlers won't eat salads all, but that's OK. Offer it as a small side dish they can dip into.
Toddlers are at a stage, where they are just exploring new flavours and textures, but sometimes eating a salad is easier said than done. A top tip is to keep fruits and veggies simple, fun and delicious, don't over complicate matters. If you're serving cherry tomatoes or grapes, remember to cut them into quarters to lessen the risk of choking.
At two and a half years, your child will probably have a full set of teeth, so they can confidently chew large leafy greens like spinach or a spring mix. It's still best to chop the pieces up, though, to avoid toddler frustration.
How Do You Make A Salad Enjoyable?
Prep together: From choosing the veg in the supermarket to talking about the ingredient, do everything together. Talk about the size, shape and colour; wash it and prepare it, discuss if it has seeds and feel its texture.
Eat as a family: Turn the television off and sit around the same table, so your child can see you eating the same things.
Don't pressurise: Forcing a child to eat a vegetable won't work.
Provide a choice : Put two or three vegetables out and ask your child : "Which one would you like to try?"
10 Easy Salad Recipes For Kids
1. Healthy Vegetable Pasta Salad
This is something the whole family can enjoy. Pasta comes in so many fun shapes and sizes, so line a few up and see which ones your child would like to try. Choose whatever vegetables they love, so they feel involved.
Steam the veg; suggestions include; fresh peas, diced carrots, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn kernels.
Cook the pasta, the recommended portion per child aged 1-3 is 1/4 cup (of cooked pasta).
Mix all together and add grated cheese on top, then put on a bed of rocket (optional)
2. Greek Salad For Kids
Dice 2 plum tomatoes, 1 1/2 cucumbers, 1 red pepper, 3 tablespoons red onion
Mix with handful of pitted olives, halved; 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped; crumbled feta cheese.
3. Fruit Kebabs
Get fruit that your kids like and maybe add a few new ones to try. Cut up the fruit and let your child put it on to the skewer (you may want to blunt the end first to avoid injury). These are quick and easy to make, are packed full of vitamins, and offer a fun rainbow fruit salad.
Fruit options include pineapple, melon, blueberries, cut grapes, tangerines and strawberries.
4. Tuna Salads For Kids
This is so easy and versatile and perfect for kids who love eating tuna; simply mix a tin of tuna with mayo or salad cream and use it to fill celery sticks, spread on cheese biscuits or fill a sandwich or wrap.
5. Summer Egg Salad
This is the prefect salad to eat on a picnic and can be served with new potatoes on the side or in sandwich. Simply mix the following ingredients together in a large bowl.
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped.
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded (1/3 cup)
1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into small batons (1/4 cup)
Finely diced unpeeled apple
23 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons honey mustard
6. Grilled Chicken Salad Wrap
Children just love assembling their own wraps. The following, mixed together, make a fine meal when assembled in tortilla wraps.
2 skinned chicken breasts, grilled (or vegetarian equivalent)
Fried chopped onions and rice (optional)
shredded iceberg lettuce
4 tbsp mayonnaise
7. Corn On The Cob
You can't beat a grilled corn on the cob with butter and pepper for extra flavour. This is great for kids as the corn is quick and easy to cook, and the perfect size is for kids to pick up. Plus, they feel independent because they are in control of how they eat it. This is a great side dish for the whole family.
8. Funny Salad People For Kids
We sometimes tell children not to play with their food, but here's one time when they should.
Peel carrots. Roll up a few long shavings and save them for “hair”.
Use 1 peeled cucumber to create a body for the boy and girl.
Drain a can of pineapples and use the pieces to make the skirt or trousers.
Use the yogurt as a base before applying the pineapples.
Use raisins as hands.
Style carrot “hair”, and serve with a smile!
9. Tricolor Salad
So-called because it's three colours; green, white and red; the colours of the Italian flag. With so few ingredients it's super easy to make, and the perfect salad for children.
Take tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado, display in alternate colours, top with basil or sweetcorn, then add a drizzle of olive oil as a dressing, if desired.
10. A Salad Dressing To Awaken The Taste Buds
You can make this in a little jug to see if your child wants to pour it on their salad for extra flavour.
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup of of olive oil
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