This 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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Build-it-Yourself Autumn Salad Bar
Make the salad dressing first if you are making the Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette below – otherwise just get your favorite salad vinaigrette from the store. The vinaigrette goes well with most any salad and is very versatile.
Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 large red onion, diced small (you can use any onion you like as long as there is a generous 1 cup of diced onion)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup honey wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 cup grape seed oil or light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium pan saute the diced onion with the honey and butter on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very browned and caramelized without burning. Don’t rush it. Allow the onion to cool to room temperature and place it in a blender or food processor along with all the other ingredients except the oil and puree until very smooth. With the blender or food processor on low speed, drizzle in the oil and emulsify until thick and smooth for a few seconds longer once all the oil has been added. Place the dressing in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use and up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Beef Tenderloin Autumn Salad
INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:
3/4 lb Beef Tenderloin or New York Strip Steak, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides, sear in a pan on all sides in 2 teaspoons butter, slice it thinly and sear pieces a bit more until they reach your desired preference (medium well for us)
1/2 lb bacon (black forest bacon from Whole Foods is what I used) – cut bacon into small pieces and render in a small pan on medium-low heat until cooked to desired crispness (takes about 10 minutes stirring occasionally)
1 head Endive, leaves pulled off, core trimmed off and leaves washed
2 small or 1 large Asian pear, diced into small bite size pieces (do this last when ready to assemble your salad bar so the pear doesn’t brown)
1/3 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles
1/2 cup chopped and sautéed mushrooms (use 1 teaspoon butter to sauté) – (I used a Royal Trumpet Mushroom) – cut mushroom into small pieces and sauté until tender and just golden brown on the edges
6 fresh black figs, quartered and then cut into smaller halves for bite size pieces
1/2 cup lightly toasted Walnuts – chop your walnuts into smaller pieces and place them in a pan over low heat to toast, this only takes a couple minutes – keep the walnuts moving while toasting so they don’t burn
1 container of mixed Microgreen salad of your choice
On a large platter arrange all your salad bar components. Have small plates for each person and let them build their own salad cups in the endive leaves. Makes enough for 4-6 people depending on their appetites.
RECIPES from phemomenon.com