Eat Your Age in Salad

“You guys aren’t really into salad, are you?” My cousin looked dismayed. She was going to Hampshire College and we were living in South Hadley. She loved coming over for dinner but was disappointed by the lack of raw greens.

It’s not that I didn’t like salad back then. I did. I just hated making salads. It felt like it took forever to wash the spinach, dry the spinach, tear the spinach up … crinkle the spinach, shake the spinach, dance with the spinach, and do all the other things you’re supposed to do to the spinach. And that was just for the spinach. Then there were the cucumbers, carrots, peppers, apple, tomato, artichoke hearts, green beans, and all the other veggies to chop or grate or peel or what have you.

Ten years later, I’ve become something of a salad addict. I still don’t love making salads. They still feel like a lot of work. But I like eating salad so much that the hassle feels worth it. I especially enjoy leftover salad for breakfast. It’s too bad Hannah lives 344 miles away now, since we try to serve a salad at every dinner.

Right. Check. Good. Salad on the table. Mother eats salad. But what about the kids? How do you get them to eat their leafy greens?

When the kids were little I would play “Don’t Eat My Broccoli.” Put a piece of broccoli on the side of your plate and explain it’s your very special most delicious broccoli and ask them to please keep it safe for you while you get a glass of water. “No matter what, don’t eat my broccoli.” Lo and behold, when you return to the table, the broccoli has disappeared into the small child’s stomach.

Now that the kids (and I) are older, we have a rule: you have to eat your age in salad.

Etani eats seven pieces. Athena eats nine. Hesperus eats eleven. (Actually Hesperus is so grown up that she usually just heaps a bunch on her plate without bothering to count.)

Athena asks “Why don’t YOU have to eat YOUR age in salad?”

See all these gray hairs kid? I can’t count that high.

Do you love salad or choke it down? Have a favorite salad you like to make? And what are your tricks to get the kids to eat salad?

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10 thoughts on “Eat Your Age in Salad”

  1. I love love love salad, but hate making it. My husband has taken on the salad task. Also, whenever we have friends over for dinner and they ask what they can bring, I say “salad”!

  2. Now, why didn’t I think of that when my kids were younger? Brilliant. Happy to say that now that they’re grown, they adore salads despite shunning them when younger. In fact, I’ve bought them each, as apartment-warming gifts, a salad spinner, which gets used just about every night.

  3. I think my attitude toward salad is healthier (ahem!) because when I was about 12, I signed up for a 4-H cooking class for sandwiches and salads. It opened up a world beyond lettuce. Now I love finding something different to do with salad every single night, and while there are times when I would like a Chinese chop-chop boy in my kitchen, most of the time I don’t mind at all.

    (By the way, your Comment Luv plug in needs updating so that it will work.)

  4. Ohmygod, TWO ideas I can steal! The “don’t eat my broccoli” is genius, as it the “eat your age.” I think my adorable son could actually fall for both. Thanks!

  5. I love my salad. Right now, I have a garden so full of cherry tomatoes we eat them all day long and so do our greedy chickens!

  6. I love salad, and my boys do too. For 4-year-old Eli, it’s all about pretending he’s a dinosaur. Spinach are leaves that he’s plucking from trees with the help of his long brachiosaurus neck. Broccoli are “dinosaur trees” that just look tiny because he’s such a huge T-rex. And so on.

  7. My whole family loves salad, but I’m with you: I absolute abhor making salad. It’s a running joke with my extended family (mom and sis also hate making salad) that whenever somebody is invited to dinner, THEY have to make the salad. Nobody wants to do it. I’d ever rather make homemade soup than a salad!

  8. I eat a salad every single day for lunch. But I too think it is a pain to make. The key to kids and salad in this house is the dressing. Everyone can pick their own. I also have learned that my kids prefer iceberg lettuce while I like things like Romaine, Boston, and spinach.

  9. Um, no surprise here, I’m a salad fiend. It’s probably my favorite food to eat and make. My son (now 12) has always preferred his veggies raw sand I wonder if it was, in part, because that’s what he got offered a lot.

  10. Mix in a few handfuls of greens like spinach, kale, chard & parsley in the blender with ripe banana, whatever fruit you have around, a few ounces of juice and then add half a cup or so of frozen blueberries or mixed berries.

    Pour it in their favorite cups with straws – your family will never know – and their nutritional intake has gone up a few notches. Experiment – you can drink your salad in a delicious fruit smoothie! M-m–m-m.

    Everyday is the way.

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