I remember when I was a youngster my grandmother would often lie down with me when I was reluctant to take a nap. She’d say excitedly, “Let’s see who can go to sleep first!” Being competitive, even at an early age, I was proud of myself for always winning.
When I tried this “game” on my granddaughters, they laughed at me. Yes, outwitting kids is a game that’s easy for adults to bungle. Still, we try ways to get them to eat healthy and that can take some creative maneuvers.
A Bowl of Color and Crunch That Isn’t Cereal
When I walked into Tom and Lisa’s kitchen recently, their 9-year-old was woofing down a green salad like it was cotton candy.
“What did you do, spray it with sugar water?” I whispered. She reached into the salad and handed me one of the bread croutons.
“We made these from stale French bread. Harper cut the bread into cubes and added a bit of oil. I had truffle salt on hand from a gift basket, so I sprinkled some of that on, too, before putting them into the oven.”
They were delicious! Perfect for a salad or soup. The croutons definitely made a bowl of lettuce leaves more appealing to my granddaughter. That got me to thinking about other salad enhancers for kids. . . .
More Ways to Make a Kid’s Salad Fun
1. Change the shape of a vegetable and it becomes more appealing. A spiralized carrot or zucchini is far more fun than slices or chunks.
2. Add strawberries, apples, blueberries, mandarin orange slices, or raisins to a child’s salad for added flavor and nutrition.
3. Heighten salad appeal by adding something the youngster already likes: pasta, corn, peas, boiled egg, tuna or pieces of ham or chicken.
4. Keep a child’s salad simple and small. Iceberg, leaf lettuce or baby spinach will be an easier sell than the stronger tasting greens, such as radicchio or kale.
5. For a new salad eater, make a vinaigrette using a bit more honey than normal. Or use a Ranch dressing, usually favored by kids.
6. Use toppings of shredded cheese, croutons, or crushed nuts for extra color and crunch.
7. Serve vegetables with a dip such as hummus. A dab of creamy sauce will make broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower less threatening.
A Healthy Nibble
These Veggie-Cheese Cups can also encourage the picky salad eater. When placed alongside a salad or crumbled atop, they add color and flavor to a bowl of leafy vegetables. Mini muffins have most of the ingredients of a quiche, but without the name. At less than 50 calories each, these crusty, cheesy bites are a healthy snack for kids—or anyone.
If Granny had known about these, instead of napping, we could have played: “Let’s See Who Can Eat Their Veggie-Cheese Cup First.”
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup shredded zucchini and/or carrots
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Parmesan
- 1/2 cup diced ham (optional)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 2 green onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray or oil.
- Cook quinoa in water according to package directions, or use chicken broth for more flavor.
- Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Fill each cup to level in mini muffin tin, and press down to pack firmly.
- Bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
- Serve or freeze baked veggie cups and warm by microwaving 20-40 seconds, depending on number being reheated. Makes 28.