Tiny Salad™

There’s something about the word “salad” that my kids totally hate. I think it must be the “L” in the middle. “L”s are for losers. For a while I tricked them by calling it “leaves and sauce” and they would happily dip their leaves and munch away, one or two leaves per meal, leaving behind any other stuff that happened to stow away on the leaves, stuff like tomatoes and cukes. For a long time I thought they’d grow to love it but it’s been years and if anything they’ve grown more salaphobic.

Recently my friend Jill sent me a link to Cynthia Lair’s cooking blog, Cookus Interruptus. I was excited to check it out because Cynthia Lair is the author of my current favorite cook book, Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods
. If you’re trying to make healthy food choices for your family, I beseech you to go out today and buy this book. It is a wealth of information and great recipes. It’s where I learned to cook all kinds of crazy grains and vegetables and a lot of normal ones too in new ways. She’s a teacher at Bastyr University and writes on a very down-to-earth level with a glossary of cooking terms and ingredients in the back of her book that explains what certain sauces and spices look like and where you’d typically find them in the grocery store. LOVE. IT.

But I love her new blog even more. Who knew that she was a great chef, teacher, writer and comedian?

Seriously the site is awesome. It’s an instructional cooking video blog with humor, great information and fabulous simple recipes. Dan and I have whiled away many minutes (the videos are short) watching Cynthia and her crazy improv comedian “family members” cook up delicious nutritious whole foods, even some of my favorite recipes from her book.

After watching one video about picky eaters, I became inspired to invent what I like to call Tiny Salad™. It involves dirtying every small bowl in the house but it’s worth it for the amount of vegetables it causes my kids to consume of their own free will and choice.
I fill each bowl with a different salad topping chopped very finely, grated carrots, tiny minced tomatoes, minced squash, minced cucumbers, finely shredded lettuce or spinach, minced apple chunks, whatever I have in the produce drawer. I put little bowls full of “sauce” on the table with spoons in each bowl and let the kids build their own salads. It’s okay. You can say it. It sounds like a glorified salad bar. But it’s not because there’s no sneeze glass, it’s arranged in a bunch, not a line and you can dish your plate while sitting down.
The kids love it and make really fun creative salads and — GET THIS — eat them!

Check out Cynthia’s blog. I know you’ll like it. Because everyone thinks and feels exactly like me. Because I am a right type of person with a great knowledgeable rightness about me.

Oh, and Beth recently wrote about something similar to Tiny Salad™ called “Fun Bites” but she doesn’t put a trademark symbol after the title so you probably don’t want to click over there and read about it.

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14 Responses to Tiny Salad™

  1. How sad that I can’t access her blog from here in China. It sounds perfect. But – here’s what I do to get veggies in my kids, with fewer bowls. I get out a fancy platter and make an antipasto. Chop up as many kinds of veggies as you want and arrange prettily. Maybe add cheese cubes or olives or garbanzo beans – even if they don’t eat them, it looks fancy and fun. Try to include something you know each kid likes. Then, each kid chooses what they want – three year old gets three things, 5 year old gets five, etc. My kids won’t eat salad, but when the exact same veggies are separate and they choose which they want, they do a great job. Also, tell them what each food does (carrots give you x-ray vision; spinach makes your blood strong, cheese cubes give you strong bones for jumping off the swing…). This really works with my kids. It’s worth a try, anyway…

  2. Terina says:

    um, my kids happily eat salad and ask for more. every time we eat it. in fact, they eat their salad first, before they eat what is for dinner. like last night. they ate their salad before the touched their spaghetti. i promise, i didn’t brain wash them or anything. they just like it. i don’t know why, but i’m taking advantage of it as much as i can. 🙂 (even my 3 year old asks for MORE salad.)

  3. It’s amazing how making anything tiny inspires kids to partake. Why is that?

  4. Sounds like a cookbook I need to get. My kids love salad, but I seem to cook the same things over and over again. I need to find some new dishes.

    The photos made me hungry!

  5. Beth says:

    LOL! This, too, is a terrific idea! Nothing better than letting kids have control over something so simple, right?

    Thanks for the “link love”….is it still called that? 🙂

  6. candy says:

    LOVE the idea, wish my mom had done it when I was a kid! reminds me of the “slow family manifesto”, have you heard of it? it’s an interesting concept: http://carrieanddanielle.com/slow-food-and-slow-family-savoring-the-good-things-in-life/

  7. I love her book, too! I am off to check out her blog — it sound great.

    And YAY! for veggie consumption by the wee folk!

  8. Stephanie says:

    Did you really trademark that?

  9. Wendy says:

    OK, I’ll get the book. We need more veggie eating around here….

    And, I KNEW that she was a comedian because I get to see her do IMPROV on Bainbridge Island each month when the Edge performs here. She’s hilarious!

  10. Terina says:

    i don’t make special salads in the least. i just get dark lettuce (i hate iceberg) tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and if i have shredded cheese i put that on too. nothing exciting. my kids love tomatoes. and mushrooms. and carrots. i honestly have no idea why they like salad. and why they ask for more. they just do. could it be the ranch?? but my son likes our vinaigrette stuff better. i don’t know. could it be that i made their baby food rather than buy it in a jar?? i can’t say that either. my kids will also eat baked fish (salmon or white fish), and shrimp. they like broccoli too. but won’t eat squash. i love camembert and brie and i buy it fairly often. both will eat it on bread. i wish there were a way to figure out why certain kids will eat things and why others won’t. i don’t get it. i have a friend whose son won’t eat ice cream because of the texture. or string cheese. strange. if i ever do have a child that won’t eat salad i just might have to try and mini salad thing. hopefully i’ll remember it when that time comes around.

  11. jsprik says:

    that sounds like a great idea, and yummy too! i am always looking for ways to spruce up salads, thanks for the tips and the links!! btw, i have a new blog, stop by sometime!! hugs and prayers…

  12. Leslie says:

    I’ll be storing your Tiny Salad in my toolkit for future use, along with leaves and sauce. Maybe if I julienne vegs and call it “leaves, sticks and sauce” it’ll stretch further? 🙂
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  13. Beck says:

    OH MY GOSH, that is crazy brilliant. I had actually given up on salads (they’ll eat raw sliced veggies, but throw them together and game over) – but this looks TOTALLY like something they’d be eager to do – and we also wouldn’t have to cut The Baby’s salad up, either. SMART.

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