Typically, if we’re having salad with dinner, I make up my kids’ plates with some lettuce and a few toppings and then set it in front of them. They will usually eat it, but they don’t get excited about it…and they definitely don’t ask for seconds! Recently, I asked my daughter if she would like me to set up a ‘salad bar’ at home and let each person choose their own toppings. This idea absolutely appealed to her and she could not wait until dinner that night! I set out all the toppings in separate bowls on the kitchen table and let each kid walk down the line making their own salad (even if that meant little fingers went into each and every ingredient…). They were fairly predictable with what they chose, but they did choose a few toppings that I wouldn’t have given them if I had been the one to make their salad. And I was shocked by the amounts of each veggie they added. I never would have put quite as many diced green peppers into one of my boys’ bowl…but he added quite a few…and then gobbled down each and every bite!
They LOVED doing this and each kid ate two full bowls of the salad they made for themselves. I offered once to help them with their refill, but…not a chance! They were all just as excited to get out of their chairs and make up their own bowl for round two. This is definitely something we’ll keep doing!
And, of course, the ideas for salad toppings are limitless! Here are just a few suggestions:
- Base: green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, baby spinach
- Protein: thinly sliced deli meat, cubed pieces of ham or turkey, bacon, walnuts, pecans, almonds, sliced hardboiled eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, diced apples
- Veggies: bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes
- Freshly shredded cheese or grated Parmesan
And for the salad dressing? I usually keep it pretty simple with this basic homemade combination:
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T apple cider vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 T honey
- Dash of salt
I hope this make-your-own-salad bar concept is an idea your family will enjoy just as much as ours has! For more family friendly recipes and tips, check out my blog: www.realfitrealfoodmom.com
LeAnn Nome, blogger & mom of three little ones