Beef Tenderloin & Autumn Build-it-Yourself Salad Bar + #Giveaway

by Holly on September 30, 2013

Planet Box Autumn Salad Lunch

logoThis recipe is brought to you by Whole Foods, Whole Kids Foundation, as a part of their Whole Kids salad recipe blogger challenge.
My opinions are as always 100% my own and I was provided a gift card to purchase my ingredients and received no other compensation.
Their website is a fantastic resource and you should really check it out!

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram lately then you’ve probably noticed I’ve been sharing a lot of pictures of my 4th Grader’s self-designed lunches in his Planet Box. Recently, I posted the picture above of a salad and some ingredients that we came up with. My kids never cease to amaze me in their choices!

Probably the two comments I’ve received the most often on those pictures is (1) if I can pack lunch for my friends (wish I could!) and (2) if he is really eating it. That second question is definitely valid though! As I mentioned, this salad was one of his choices and one he actually designed himself along with his little brother.

He’s also been taking things like sunflower seed butter and jam sandwiches and smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill sandwiches. All his own choices. This is the son of a mother who would live on guacamole and Monster every day.

Autumn Salad Bar

Here’s the thing, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think that what we eat, what our children eat and what they are willing to try is directly related to our attitude and to a certain extent how we grew up. If we realize these two things and add them together it can be pretty powerful.

I’ve mentioned on here many times before that I still consider myself a picky eater and not so good at eating my vegetables. I’ve been working hard for years to teach myself to like salad. True story. It’s coming along and I did eat this with them and discovered new things I liked as well (shocking as it is, to the best of my memory I’d never tried a fig!)

Boys shopping at Whole Foods {}

So, how is it that my kids are eating so many more things than I’ve even been willing to try? Opportunity and attitude. Over and over again. And persistence and a sense of adventure.

Food is our accessible adventure. We have busy, complicated lives and pretty much still stay pretty close to home. Thanks to modern grocery stores, especially the adventurous ones like Whole Foods, there is a really interesting opportunity to teach our kids about real foods.

Boys choosing Pears

No where in the store can this be more true than the produce section. Really. Think about it. It’s colorful, smells fresh and there are lots of colors, smells, textures, flavors, and experiences to be had, easily and if you take them a few at a time, it’s an adventure! I can’t afford plane tickets for our whole family to visit somewhere exotic, but I can pick up an exotic piece of fruit they’ve never seen and build an adventure from there.

Boys Shopping in Whole Foods {}

In fact, the boys are actually way better at this than I am now. The ‘Autumn Build-it-Yourself Salad Bar’ meal we put together was pretty much all put together by them on a walk through the grocery store. We start out with a small idea, maybe a specific protein they want or fruit or place, then build a menu of new things to try around that. We do this about once a month. Mainly because since I have to look at it as an experiment this also means I have to accept that they might not like it.

Whole Foods sections {}

This is where attitude comes in. If I approach it in the right way, they will try almost anything once. And the deal is that I don’t make it a battle. I’m not allowed to do so (my own rules). This way there is no pressure. They each get to choose a certain number of things and they constantly surprise me with their choices. If I approached it saying, “they are just kids and there is no way they would like ________.” then guess what? I become a self-fullfilling prophecy. They are grossed out and unwilling. It took me a few years to figure this out and come to terms with this.

Ingredients Collage

We certainly don’t eat like this all the time. My boys eat more than their fair share of pizza, burgers, chicken, etc. But they are also learning to like more and more things and frankly already have a better diet than I do. So this is definitely a case of do better than me. And that’s ok. They are bringing me around.

Salad Assembly

I was given the opportunity to share our latest adventure with you thanks to Whole Foods and their Whole Kids Foundation and was provided with a gift card to shop for these ingredients. They are also generously offering another $50 gift card to giveaway to my readers. They would like to help make everyone aware that just by adding a salad a day to our diets we can increase our daily vegetable intake. If one meal a day was replaced with a salad it could translate into the reduction of 100 extra calories per day!

Here is a little more information directly from the Whole Kids Foundation:

“By the time a kindergartener finishes high school, he/she will have eaten 2,300 school lunches, making the opportunity to impact childhood nutrition in schools very real.

Whole Kids Foundation, is a nonprofit committed to improving childhood nutrition by increasing the availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables, both at schools and at home. The foundation just kicked off its annual fundraiser to support school salad bar and garden grant programs and nutrition education classes for teachers.”

So, the obvious now. The salad my boys chose isn’t exactly all diet food as far as fewer calories and such. I recognize that, but we have the opposite issue around here than most and are still trying to get our kids to gain weight and have growth spurts. For most it may be more about a lot more vegetables and fruits to try and fewer additions like the cheese and meat, but even then, lean meats and some dairy in their daily intake, along with the broadening of what they are willing to try, is a wonderful thing!

Salad Bar Overview

I think the point here is really that if we don’t limit our children’s choices by only offering the same old ‘comfortable’ foods then the sky is the limit. I never only offer things once. Opinions change over time and something they are weirded out by today they may love in a couple months or even next year. You never know unless you try!

Presentation also helps with this in a big way. That is why I like to assemble this as a ‘salad bar’ of sorts. It gives them the option to try everything without being committed  to eating it all if they aren’t fans. It’s less stressful for me too since that way I don’t have to worry about them ‘picking’ at their food because of one thing they decided they didn’t like – and it’s not even usually the same things. We all have our preferences, right?!

You could easily do this with any salad combination just like at the grocery store (which just letting them pick and choose off a well stocked and beautiful salad bar is also a great way to try new things without committing to buying a lot of ingredients).

So, choose your theme – whether you decide to go by color or maybe even area in the world (since things grown in the same areas of the world are likely to easily go together). Choose 3 or 4 new things to try alongside a couple tried and true favorites. Present it in a fun way like lettuce cups or all chopped and go for it. Don’t let it become a battle. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t like it. But, if you never try, they’ll never know.

To help sweeten the pot and get everyone talking with their kids and opening up this veg-friendly dialogue the Whole Kids Foundation has been kind enough to offer up the giveaway of a $50 Whole Foods gift card! You can enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






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Katie October 1, 2013 at 6:16 am

I veggies that I think my kids won’t try but I would love them to is Spaghetti Squash.

Nora B October 1, 2013 at 7:46 am

I’d love them to love beets!

Ally October 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

We’re all very suspicious of anything squash-like (including zucchini). That should probably be next on our list to try.

alaine October 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

Green beans!

Kelly D October 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

My kids won’t try asparagus and I would like them to give it a chance.

Linda K. October 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I’d like my kids to eat kale and broccoli.

ilona t October 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm

neither one will eat green beans!

Becca F October 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I’d probably say kale or Brussels sprouts.

Carolsue October 2, 2013 at 2:00 am

I think that would be eggplant!
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Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia) October 2, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I can’t think of a veggie they won’t try. Try, yes. Like? Not always. I don’t like okra very much. Maybe we should work on me first. haha

Amanda Sakovitz October 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm

they wont try peas!

Thomas Murphy October 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I want my kids to try asparagus.

Evelyn October 4, 2013 at 12:16 am

They wont eat cauliflower. I have tried multiple ways and they still dont like it

Stacie S-H October 4, 2013 at 1:09 am

I dont have kids but I am not very willing to try kale, beets or rhubarb …aiai…I never was given them as a kid I dont think and as an adult I am not that willing to try them out

sara October 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

I don’t have kids, but I am always AMAZED how the kids at my church gobble down olives! It’s awesome! When I do have kids, I will definitely see if they like them since I would never have thought that would be a ‘kid’ food!

Elena Vo October 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Eggplant…I’ve tried it making so many different ways but it’s a no go. My husband, on the other hand, loves eggplant baba ganoush!

Susan Christy October 4, 2013 at 10:39 pm


JJ @ My Chicken Fried LIfe October 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Any green veggies! My daughter refuses them all and I’d love for her to at least try green beans or broccoli.

barbara n October 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I would love my kids to try and enjoy beets!

shaunie October 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

would love for them to try broccoli and cauliflower

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