May is National Salad Month - and Nutrition Nanny is celebrating by challenging families to participate in the Saladpalooza Challenge ... a FUN experiment in bringing healthy habits to your home!
Incorporating salads into your weekly meals is one of the healthiest habits your family can adopt! But whatever you do - don't tell your kids that! As you know, words like "healthy" and "salad" are enough to send them running from the table, so let's focus on the word they can connect with ... challenge!
Kids love a good challenge, and the goal of this challenge is to help them overcome many of the negative associations that they have formed about healthy foods - like salads and other vegetables. Research has demonstrated that kids are far more willing to try new foods (and foods they once rejected) if the environment is fun, positive and autonomous. Positive experiences with food = positive associations which is key to developing food preferences at ANY age! This challenge is a great first step to helping your family develop a preference for salad!
So whether it's 1 salad a week, or the full 31-day plunge -
every family stands to benefit from the Saladpalooza Challenge!
Here's how the challenge works:
1.) Determine what the winning prize at the end of the month-long challenge will be. (This could mean different things for each "challenger")
2.) Set the amount of dinner time "salad rounds" you will be playing each week. Make this realistic: If your kids "hate" salad, having too many rounds each week will make this challenge daunting - and the goal is to keep it fun! I would recommend for the average family, 1-2 salad rounds a week is pretty doable.
To Earn Points:
1.) At each dinner salad round, each challenger has to take 3 bites of the salad, and with each bite must write down 1 positive descriptive word (or sentence, whatever works!). The key is keeping the comments and facial expressions POSITIVE. Negative comments and expressions will lead to a forfeit of that point.
- 1 bite/comment = 1 point
- 2 bites/comments = 2 points
- 3 bites/comments = 5 points
- Forfeit of salad round = 0 (which will be averaged in at the end of the month)
Keep track of each challenger's rounds/points on separate pieces of paper. At the end of the month, add each of their points and then divide by the number of rounds your family had. Then crown your Saladpalooza Winner!
The key to helping kids (and, let's be honest - many adults!) learn to actually enjoy eating salads is in the way they are prepared. Gone are the days of wrangling large leaves of iceberg lettuce and Romain onto your fork - and God willing - into your mouth.
So here are some Nutrition Nanny salad prep tips sure to entice even the pickiest of eaters ...
Chop, Chop, CHOP! That's right ... Chopped salads are not only easier to manage with a fork, but they are also more dense, which means your getting more nutrients per forkful than the "old school" salad. And chop the ingredients as well - tomatoes, red onion, olives, cucumbers, etc. - keeping the consistency the same.
Choose mild-flavored lettuces. There are tons to choose from, and they come neatly packaged and even pre-washed (but you might want to give it an extra rinse just in case!). Choose a mild spring mix, baby spinach mix, Leaf Lettuce or Bibb lettuce. You might want to avoid salads greens such as Radiccio and Endive as they are pretty bitter in taste - which could sabotage the entire experience!
Add something special: Try adding either candied walnuts, toasted almonds, feta cheese, raisins or other dried fruits to your salad. This adds to the visual appeal of the salad - and can really boost the flavor.
Don't bury it: Choose light but tangy/sweet dressings that don't cover up or weigh down your salad. Lots of commercial dressings on the market are loaded with saturated fat, sugar, artificial ingredients and chemicals that devalue all of the positive benefits that a salad brings. Keep it simple: Invest in a nice balsamic vinegar (so it's aged and sweet) and try this delicious and easy dressing: Add 1 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 sprig of chopped oregano and 1 sprig of chopped thyme in a bowl and disk (or in a curette and shake!). Easy, breezy.
Here are some ideas:
These ought to get you started on your Saladpalooza Challenge! Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook where we'll be asking our friends to post their family's recipes and/or pictures from their challenge!
Happy Salad Month!!! ~ NN