I think of salads a bit like smoothies!
Not quite… but I am able to add in (sneak in) a few extra ingredients to amp up our nutrition – just like a green smoothie & the rest of the family hardly notice and it still tastes great. And … I’m happy!
If your gang eat everything you place in front of them – fantastic. Unfortuatnely it’s not often the case, and it’s important to enjoy diversity in our food and on our palate both for our well-being and our microbiome (microbial population).
Plus there are a few more good reasons to transform your humble green salad;
- Diversity. Diversity in plants builds diversity in the microbiome which makes for a healthy body and a healthy microbiome – the seat of our wellbeing. I heard one Scientist a few years ago say we evolved eating up to 100 different plants in a day! Even if it was 50, it’s a lot of leaves, shoots, tubers etc. and many of us don’t get anywhere near that.
- Detoxability. Bitter foods help with liver & digestive function. The liver needs to function well to promote good detoxification – naturally.
- Nutrients. With a wider range of foods eaten, we’re getting greater diversity of nutrients, which are the basis of our cellular communication and vitality.
- Palate. Introducing new foods and tastes, helps broaden the palate. I’ve worked with many fussy eaters (children and adults) and as soon as we introduce new foods and flavours regularly, the palate changes & new foods enjoyed more. Not always easy, but it’s absolutely possible and important for those points above.
So HOW do we add these amazing foods in without creating world war 3?!
Our kids are 12 and 14 and I reckon they’re still happier with a plate of cut up veggie sticks! However, it’s much harder ‘upgrading’ a plate of veggie sticks!! If the kids ask what’s in the tossed salad I’ll tell them, otherwise ‘Mums’ the word to avoid potential disagreements & world wars…
Before you dismiss the idea because there’s NO way your kids will eat it, (and it might be the case) stay with me, here are some tricks to try if you haven’t already.
With your leafy greens as a base e.g. lettuce, english spinach etc. try one or more of these ideas;
- Adding a sweetener. Add your (or the kids) favourite seasonal fruit or dried fruit e.g. mango, peach, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries in the Summer months or dried fruit e.g. mango, apple, strawberries. Preferably keep it low sugar e.g. berries are perfect.
- Adding a carbohydrate. If preferred, use a complex carbohydrate as a base e.g. cold cooked brown or basmati rice, GF pasta or steamed potato with the skin on. With time you can start to reduce the amount of carbohydrate and increase the veggies and herbs.
- Cutting it fine. Chop the herbs or bitter foods very fine and when you’re getting started don’t add too much of them e.g. I often add in kale, coriander, parsley, sprouts, basil, thyme, fennel, radish and / or spring onion, very finely. Our kids are older now and I’ve been doing it for awhile so are used to the stronger flavour / bitter foods. Start moderately.
- Boosting the fats. Adding in healthy fats help with the absorption of fat soluble nutrients such as A, D, E and K. Fats are also tasty and give sustaining energy, helping maintain steady blood sugars, avoiding crashes and irritability, leathary or tantrums! For example add in avocado, feta, bacon, chicken, egg, home made mayonnaise or oils such as avocado, macadamia or sesame oils – whatever you feel like adding in and goes with the salad you’re creating.
- Adding extra sweetness. Try adding in cooled, baked vegetables such as pumpkin, cauliflower, beetroot, sweet potato, tomatoes, onion or garlic! The baked veggies add extra sweetness too.
- Grabbing a pickle. Every now and then I’ll add in a pickle flavour to zest it up e.g. capers, olives, sun dried tomatoes, gherkin or stir through a sauerkraut or kim chi depending on what we’re eating the salad with. (By the way the pickle flavour wouldn’t be so good with fruit or sweetness so probably go one or the other, not both flavours together)…
- Dressing it up. When you’ve got all the ingredients in that you’re wanting to add, garnish with more goodness & dress it up e.g. edible flowers, roasted pumpkin seeds, nuts, caramelised pecans(or any type of nuts or seeds), sesame seeds or seasonal fruit. Or whatever the family enjoys.
Toss through your favourite dressing e.g. using one or more of these ingredients; lemon juice, crushed garlic, dulse flakes, apple cider vinegar, tahini, olive oil, himalayan salt, grated ginger, cumin powder etc. and your good to go!
Remember to pick and choose the ingredients you know work for your family and experiment adding in new ingredients along the way. Whatever you do will be perfect. As mentioned we’ve been having salads like this for awhile and it still makes me feel good knowing the kids are eating a wide variety of herbs, veggies and spices.
Variety really is the spice of life!
What are your favourite ways to add in some variety? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear.
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