I’ll probably mention this topic somewhat often, because, honestly, I get asked about it a lot. People see my kids woofing down a vegetable-centric meal, often mostly if not all raw, and they’re amazed. “How do you get them to eat vegetables?” They ask. Well, I don’t feel like I “get” them to eat them… I mean, there’s no force involved. They do it happily, for the most part. Every now and then I hear a complaint about wanting a more exciting salad for dinner if I serve the same ‘ol too many days in a row, but that’s about it.
A few tips:
1. We’ve always had a “what mom prepares is what’s for dinner” rule. If they don’t eat it, it goes in the fridge until they say they’re hungry. If they choose not to eat it again it goes back and the process is repeated until they decide to eat it. They won’t starve themselves, and we only needed to do this with one of our children and only for a few weeks before his tastes changed over and he rediscovered his natural love for vegetables.
2. Blend leafy greens up into green smoothies. Kids LOVE fruit smoothies. They won’t taste the greens, but their bodies will adapt to the chlorophyll and their taste will naturally change and they’ll be snacking veggies before you know it. Just put a handful or two of fresh or frozen fruit into your blender, pour water to the top of the fruit, and add a handful or two of baby spinach. Blend well. You can omit the water and make what we call “ice green” which is a soft serve fruit ice cream (make sure to use frozen fruit for this and you’ll need a high speed blender). If you need to sweeten the frozen fruit add a little high quality stevia. We often eat this for dinner in the summer time.
3. Make a big colorful salad and add some ingredients kids love. Cut up fruit with a fruity dressing is typically a great way to go. Just blend up a piece of fruit or berries with a touch of stevia and apple cider vinegar and you’ve got a fruit/berry vinaigrette. Another things kids go wild for is shredded raw goat cheese and/or olives. My boys LOVE salad with salsa as a dressing, either ordinary salad or peach mango salsa. Just toss is all well together. If you add the goat cheese and olives to the regular salsa you’ve basically got grain free, vegetarian taco salad, and that’s delicious! Dressing really makes the salad, so play with those. There are some great brands you can buy with simple ingredients, or google some raw salad dressing recipes and make your own. Asian style dressings are a big hit around here as well. See below for a few of our favorites.
4. Make lettuce wraps. Lay the table out with a colorful display of cut up veggies and a pile of lettuce leaves (we like to use Butterhead for this). Maybe have some raw cheddar goat cheese out or a nut based filling (like the Chikn Salad below), a little stone ground mustard is great as well. Let them have fun building their own wraps.
5. Let them help in the kitchen and garden. When kids help make their food, and especially if they grow it themselves, they are proud of it and find great joy in presenting and eating it.
6. Sneak veggies into things they already like, like sandwiches. My kids love a good veggie sandwich on sprouted grain bread (like Ezekiel bread). Spread on some Veganaise or stone ground mustard and add some sliced tomatoes, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber slices, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper… maybe even a little raw goat cheddar or an organic hard-boiled egg sliced up.
7. Make yummy dips and serve them with a variety of sliced veggies, like celery, jicama, peppers, cucumber, baby carrots, etc. See below for our favorite dip recipe.
Kid-Friendly Pancake Syrup Romaine Heart Salad
(modified) From the Smart Cooking the Costco Way Cookbook
2 TBS cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 TBS pure maple syrup (make sure its the real thing)
1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
Course salt and ground pepper
2 heads romaine hearts, chopped, washed and spun dry
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced
3 ouces crumbled raw cheese (dairy -preferably goat or sheep- or nut, optional)
1/2 cup candied walnuts (optional)
Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with salad ingredients. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Makes 6 side dish sized servings.
Chinese Chickenless Salad
By Ani Phyo
Makes 4 servings
2 TBS Nama Shoyu or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
2 TSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic (powdered works too)
1 tsp minced ginger (powdered works too)
1 TBS toasted sesame oil
2 TBS raw agave syrup
6 cups thinly shredded napa cabbage (I have used lettuce for this)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups shredded carrot (I buy the pre-shredded kind)
½ cup thinly sliced green onion (about 3 whole)
¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)
Whist the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Place the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl, pour on the dressing and toss. Top with almonds, if desired.
Spinach Caesar Salad
1 large bunch organic spinach
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, coursly ground (I use a coffee grinder, a Vitamix would also work)
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 – 1 tsp dijon mustard
2 TBS olive oil
dash Celtic sea salt
sprinkle of freshly ground white pepper
Rinse the spinach well and dry, tear into bite sized piece and place in a bowl (may not be necessary if you use baby spinach). In a small bowl or blender, blend the garlic, lemon, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over spinach just prior to serving. Toss well and sprinkle with ground pumpkin seeds (this is the replacement for the cheese).
Raw Vegan Greens
By Jinjee and Storm Talifero, http://www.thegardendiet.com
1 head collard greens
¼ cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1 ½ cups really raw cashews, ground into flour
1 tsp celtic sea salt
Remove the collard stems and chop leaves into large pieces. Toss in olive oil, add cashew flour and toss again. Place in a glass dish and top with sliced tomatoes and onion slices. Sprinkle salt over the top. Put lid on the dish and place in the sun at least 2 hour. Serve.
Note: You can try adding different ingredients to this recipe, such as leeks, marinated mushroom, or even other types of greens like kale or bok choy!
Mostly Raw Taco Salad
Sunshine Burgers (cooked according to package instructions and broken into crumbles, may add dry taco seasoning if you like)
Lettuce (any kind you like)
Mild cheddar goat cheese, shredded
Green onions, sliced thin
Cilantro, stems removed and chopped
Guacamole, fresh or premade (I like the Wholly Guacamole brand)
Salsa (fresh or pre-made)
Garden of Eatin’ or Guiltless Gourmet tortilla chips, broken into pieces
Toss all ingredients together.
This is also good without the Sunshine burgers.
Mexican Style Salad
(all quantities to taste and depending on how much you’re making)
Any lettuce, shredded
Green onions, sliced thin
Peppers, minced (if you like them)
Cilantro, stems removed and chopped
Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, green onion, peppers, and cilantro. On a small plate mash avocado, lime juice, salt, and garlic powder with the back of a fork until well combined. Drop dollops over salad and add salsa if using. With your hands mash the salad until the avocado is evenly distributed throughout.
Raw “Chikin” Sandwich Salad
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (soaked 3 hours)
1/2 cup cashews (soaked 3 hours)
2 inch piece of cucumber
1 tablespoon onion
1/2 celery stick
1/4 cup pecans (ground-a little more if whole)
1 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon curry powder (I swear, it works!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
half a lemon’s juice
lots of ground black pepper
and one half carrot (optional, but I really like)
Pulse all together. It should be a finer texture than regular tofu chicken salad. That helps it to stick together. No need to add water if it seems it won’t stick. The cucumber and nuts and carrot should release water after it sits. This is delish! Add to your fave raw bread! Keep in fridge for a week.
THE Spinach Dip!
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1/2 red onion, chopped small
1 1/2 cups raw almonds, soaked and peeled
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/4 cold pressed olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 TBS nutritional yeast flakes (optional, to thicken and add a slight cheesy flavor)
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp sea salt
Blend all ingredients (EXCEPT spinach and onion) in high speed blender until creamy. Add spinach and onion and pulse to incorperate. Chill for several hours to thicken.
2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 (15oz) can organic black beans, drained & rinsed
1 ½ cups organic tomatoes, diced
2 ripe avocados, diced
2/3 c. red onion, chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
2/3 c. cilantro, chopped
a few dashes of tabasco (optional)
Combine all ingredients, adding avocados last, and toss gently. Serve with Garden of Eatin’ or Guiltless Gourmet brand tortilla chips.