Harmonious Homestead
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Lil's Colorful Chop Salad

It is afternoon, a time when summer boredom hits hardest.  Lil is whiny and wants nothing to do with any of the ideas I suggest.  That is, until I start working on dinner and ask if she would like to make a salad.

She runs to her garden and picks what is ripe and fresh.  She brings them inside, washes, and begins to chop.  Lil dices carrots finely with an adult paring knife.  I teach her how to chiffonade large leaves.  She mixes a vinaigrette, pours it over the salads, and serves them.

child cutting swiss chard for salad

These chop salads genuinely taste delicious and make good use of our in season vegetables.  More than that, Lil's salads represent the growth of a healthy eater and contributing member of our food loving family.

Recipe for a Chop Salad, verbatim from Lil

First, we need to do carrots, then chard, then some dressing.  Put herbs and done.

child holding a salad she created

Tips for a Successful Salad Making Experience with a Child

1. Say 'yes' as often as you can.  You want both the making and the eating of a child-led salad to be positive.

2. Set yourself up for success by offering to do tasks that might be frustrating for a young child, such as cutting thick parts of a carrot.

3. Be flexible about letting the child try everything they want to try.  Model techniques, moving their hands under yours if need be.

4. Give them the proper tools, especially knife ware.  A child will be easily frustrated with a knife that doesn't cut well.  Lil has been using an adult pairing knife since she was three, for these reasons.

5. Double check the washing.  Garden vegetables, especially greens, can be dirty and grit makes for a poor salad.  Kids love using the salad spinner, so employ yours if you have one.

6. Go with the child's taste ideas.  You may never have thought to pair certain herbs and vegetables, but the child's tastes may surprise you. More than that, by allowing her creativity in the kitchen you are giving her confidence in other areas.

7. Specifically and honestly affirm the act of making and eating a healthy salad.  "You worked really hard at this." "I especially like how carefully you cut the carrots."  "Thanks for making part of our dinner! I love eating this nutritious and delicious salad."