I have always loved food and have nurtured a healthy, balanced relationship with nutrition. I spent half of my childhood living in Italy where I experienced food as an art rather than a consumer good. I was raised on small portions, variety, and moderation. With my kids, my hope was to instill in them the same food values that I was exposed to growing up.
Salads are a staple in Mediterranean food and in Italy we ate salads after our meals to aid in digestion and to cleanse our palate. One day, I was serving salad after our main course and my 12 month old daughter looked so interested in it. I had not thought to try and feed her an arugula salad, but then thought why not? So I began mincing salads for her and to my surprise she loved them all.
From my family table to yours, here is our guide to getting your little one to eat fresh salads!
- Taste. Flavor is so important when introducing foods to anyone, but especially babies. While we always start out with plain foods, I did introduce various baby appropriate fully prepared and seasoned (low sodium) meals to my kids from early on. I partially credit my kids' healthy and non-picky eating habits to tasty and varietal home cooked meals. For salads, we use a variety of delicious balsamic vinegar, from Mission Fig Balsamic to Grapefruit White Balsamic. An all natural infused vinegar can go a long ways to making the regular old salad into a delicious bowl licking dish.
- Presentation. Our eyes do a lot of deciding for us and I always believed that kids should be presented meals in a creative, loving way in order to build a healthy relationship with food. I never shovel food on a plate, but rather present it in an enticing way. It's really the first step for little ones to be adventurous in trying new foods and flavors.
- Mince. If you are starting your kids out early on dishes such as salad, make sure to finely mince any salad (or any food for that matter) so that it can be lightly chewed and swallowed. You can mince just about any type of soft food.
- Engagement. Let your kids see the process of preparing food. I found this to be a great bridge from plain foods to seasoned meals. Seeing how food is prepared engages little ones and sparks their curiosity as to how that food may taste! They are much more willing to be adventurous in trying new flavors if they are part of the meal prep process!
We hope these tips help you and your little ones in the fun and exciting world of healthy food!
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