9 Dinner Salads Kids Will Love

Getting fresh fruits and vegetables into picky kids’ mouths can be a challenge, but doing so is essential for a healthy, balanced diet. The health benefits of fresh produce are numerous and well-documented, as are the risks of the rapidly-climbing childhood obesity rate. Rather than coaxing, cajoling and bargaining with your children to persuade them to eat their vegetables, consider these creative, kid-pleasing salads.

  1. Pasta Salad – Combining fun pasta shapes with plenty of raw veggies and a low-fat Italian dressing or the vinaigrette of your choice can be enticing to kids, so scope out the pasta section of your local grocery store for interesting finds. Wheels, spirals, and shells are always kid-pleasers, but kids will be even more excited about dinner if you let them pick out the pasta themselves.
  2. Berry Salads – Non-vegetarian families with no nut allergy sufferers may find that a dinner salad featuring chicken, toasted pecans and plenty of strawberries with a berry vinaigrette is a big hit. The beauty of this salad is that the protein can be changed to suit your specific dietary needs and nuts can be either substituted for sunflower seeds or eliminated altogether. Whatever you decide, integrating fresh strawberries, blueberries or even cranberries can make nutritionally-important leafy greens seem much more appealing to kids.
  3. Taco Salad – Tacos are almost always a hit with the smaller set, and they can be easily adapted to a large dinner salad that’s heavier on veggies than a small taco shell will accommodate. For extra kid-approval points, throw the ingredients into a tortilla bowl; the novelty of edible dishes will lend a little bit of excitement to dinnertime.
  4. Pita Pockets and Salad Wraps – When salads are stuffed into pita pockets or rolled into wraps, they become kid-friendly finger foods rather than a bowl full of produce. Opting for spinach wraps will also lend a bright pop of color that kids are sure to get a kick out of, especially if they’re accustomed to traditional white flour tortilla wraps.
  5. Chicken Salads – Save the grown-up flavors of arugula and radicchio for your next adults-only dinner party, and opt for milder flavored greens to build the base of a salad with pulled chicken, which most kids will eat willingly. Tossing in mandarin oranges can also give the salad a sweet burst of flavor and a pop of color, which are always appealing to young palates. For hectic nights, use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from your grocer’s deli section to save time.
  6. Waldorf Salad – This modified Waldorf salad at CookLikeADad is sure to be a hit, with plenty of apples, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and celery. They recommend a quick dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice and honey, which will be a hit with the kids and a lifesaver on particularly busy nights.
  7. Chef’s Salad – Integrating the cold cuts that kids are already familiar with and their favorite dressing can make them less suspicious of a dinner salad than they might ordinarily be, especially if salad for dinner isn’t quite the norm. A great way to up the appealing factor of a chef salad is to invest in an egg mold, commonly used in Japanese bento kits. These molds form the yolks of boiled eggs into fun shapes, which are revealed when the eggs are sliced.
  8. BLT Salad – A little bit of bacon goes a long way, especially when it comes to making leafy greens more appetizing. BLT salads are best when locally grown tomatoes are in season. Pink, grainy supermarket tomatoes tend to be bland, but these beauties are bursting with flavor and juiciness.
  9. Create-Your-Own – One way to make a dinner salad irresistible to your youngster is to put them in charge of the process. Set up a salad bar with plenty of healthy fare and let kids build their own. You may be surprised at the things that they’re willing to try and find themselves enjoying when they’ve chosen them on their own.

Remember that the best way to instill good dietary habits in your children is to model those habits yourself, so make a point to enjoy your salad-based dinner with gusto. Also, keep in mind that presentation is key, and kids aren’t likely to eat something that doesn’t look appealing. Take the time to make your salads look fun and appetizing, and the kids may be more open to giving them a try.

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