Skip to main content

3 Easy Kid-Friendly Salads for Picky Eaters

Kids make decisions based on more than taste alone, so presentation matters.

Kids make decisions based on more than taste alone, so presentation matters.

How to Make Easy Salads for Kids

Many kids are not too keen on those green things that adults call salad. They relate more to the "garnish" part of "salad garnish" than to the "salad" part: It's something that's meant to make your plate look pretty, not something to eat. They even worry that the green stuff might touch their burger or fries and somehow contaminate them.

I have one daughter who has always wolfed down green food. Right from when she was a baby, if it was green, she'd eat it. I have another who eyes most green leafy things with the suspicion described above, although she will eat broccoli stalks – but not the florets. She will not touch the bits of radicchio or endive that most UK restaurants decorate plates with, nor does she like the humble iceberg lettuce.

But there are two lettuces she is willing to eat, and the reasons why reveal that what we eat is not governed by taste buds alone but by associations we make with food.

Make the Salad Look Appealing

The first lettuce my younger daughter ate was the cos or romaine lettuce, and the reason she ate it was because I tore the leaves in a particular way and presented them to my girls as "angels." I'll show you how to do this later in this article.

The second lettuce she is willing to eat is the Little Gem. This is a smaller version of romaine lettuce and slightly sweeter, but the main reason my daughter was willing to try it was because of its name. Jem is a shortened version of my husband's name: Jeremy. Although only his mother ever called him that, our daughter associated the lettuces with the dad she adores and so was happy to eat them! While not every child has such a conveniently named father, you can probably think of associations for your own children.

With a little imagination and flexibility, it's possible to come up with variations on classic salads that are more suitable for children's tastes. Some suggestions now follow.

Homemade Coleslaw That Kids Will Enjoy

Supermarket coleslaw generally does not go down well with kids (or at least not the kids I know, and come to think of it, that includes me.) It has a slightly fizzy taste, the cabbage is usually soggy, and you need a microscope to see the carrot. And kids are not nuts about raw onions. I have adapted coleslaw to make it more kid-friendly, by missing out the onion and adding in apple and extra carrot instead, so giving a slight sweetness that kids love. I also use a mixture of yogurt and mayonnaise, rather than just mayonnaise, which makes this much healthier than regular coleslaw.

salads-for-kids-kids-cook-mondays
Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

6–8 side salads

Ingredients

  • 1 small cabbage (weighing around 300 grams)
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 dessert spoon mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the cabbage.
  2. Grate the carrot.
  3. Grate the apple, keeping the skin on.
  4. Place all the above ingredients in a bowl along with the yogurt and mayonnaise.
  5. Mix well together, and then transfer to a serving bowl.
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.

Alternative Instructions

Roughly chop the vegetables, core the apple, put all into a food processer and process until finely chopped. Then add the yogurt and mayonnaise.

Good for if you are in a hurry!

She loved carrot and apple salad, though it was a bit messy at times!

She loved carrot and apple salad, though it was a bit messy at times!

Apple and Carrot Salad: A Great First Salad for Babies

This was my elder daughter's first taste of salad, and she used to wolf it down. (Except of course for the one time I proudly told my parents how well she ate it, and then she barely managed a mouthful!)

It probably appeals to babies because carrots and apples are naturally sweet.

Ingredients

This recipe makes enough for a baby and parent.

  • 1 large or 2 small carrots
  • 1 apple
  • 1 dessert spoon yogurt
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Finely grate the carrot.
  2. Grate the apple. If your baby is fairly new to chewing, use the finest side of your grater for this too. This does tend to turn the apple to mush however, so for yourself, you may want to use the coarser side.
  3. Place in a bowl. add the yogurt and olive oil and mix well together. (Or if your baby is having mushy apple and you are not, place in 2 separate bowls!)
The salad on the left has coarsely grated apple. The one on the right has finely grated; perfect for babies, but perhaps a bit mushy for you!

The salad on the left has coarsely grated apple. The one on the right has finely grated; perfect for babies, but perhaps a bit mushy for you!

How to Make Lettuce Angels or Butterflies

These are best made with romaine or cos lettuce, but you could also make them with Little Gem.

  1. First wash the lettuce thoroughly.
  2. Fold a lettuce leaf in half lengthways.
  3. Hold it in both hands, about 8–10 cm or 3–4 inches from the base. With your thumbs pointing diagonally, press on the crisp white middle part of the leaf. The tips of your thumbs should point towards the base of the leaf. This sounds complicated, but it's actually very easy.
  4. Tear the leaf. The tear you make will create 2 wings pointing upwards, and it looks like an angel. (Well, you might need to use a little bit of imagination to see it as an angel, but small children usually have tons of that!)

If you do the same again, using the next bit of the leaf, the result is shaped more like a butterfly. Of course, you are then left with the top of the lettuce that's not so exciting in appearance, and guess what? You get to eat that!

Once you've done this, you can show your children how to do it and they will have fun making their own angels.

Serve the angels with halos made of cucumber slices, and with cherry tomatoes.

Photo Guide

Hold the folded lettuce leaf at an angle.

Hold the folded lettuce leaf at an angle.

Tear the lettuce.

Tear the lettuce.

Open it out to make an angel!

Open it out to make an angel!

Lettuce angels with cucumber halos!

Lettuce angels with cucumber halos!

© 2012 Yvonne Spence