Most parents do not think that green salads are a very kid-friendly food. But they are a great way to get the recommended 5 servings of vegetables and even fruits for the day. Salads are packed with many nutrients like vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, fiber, and even healthy fats. For kids, a salad may be a food that goes untouched, but it doesn’t have to be.  My 4 and 2 year olds love greens thanks to some of these helpful, fun, and kid (and adult) proven tips.

Start Offering Salads Early

As soon as your kids have enough teeth to manage leafy greens, begin to offer salad with meals. During the first few years of life, children develop a palate for different foods and are more willing to try new foods. If you wait too long to introduce healthy foods, it may be more of a challenge. Try shredding lettuce, steaming crunchy veggies like broccoli and carrots, and keeping the salad simple.

Offer a Dip

Kids love to dip. You don’t have to toss salad in dressing. Instead offer a dip alongside the salad. Some of my favorite dips for veggies include calcium rich low-fat ranch, probiotic filled Greek yogurt with a splash of lemon, protein packed hummus or a tahini based dressing, and a raspberry vinaigrette.

Add Fruit

Because most kids are fruit lovers, why not add it to your salad greens? I love to add strawberries and blackberries to spinach, oranges and grapefruit to tougher greens like kale and chard, or watermelons to jicama. You can even try tossing in raisins or other dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, or figs for added color and flavor.

Grow Your Own

Kids love to help in the garden. Planting seeds, weeding, watering, and harvesting salad greens is fun, easy, and a guaranteed way to get your kids to love salad. Try planting spinach, arugula, romaine, spring onions, cherry tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. Or try planting a salad in a container. This practice helps to connect children with what food is and where it comes from. Homegrown plants also taste great and are super fresh.

Add Proteins

If your kids are big on cheese and meats, just toss them in. Add protein-rich chicken, hard-boiled egg, or even a variety of nuts and seeds to increase the richness of salad for kids.  Nuts like walnuts are high in brain building omega-3’s. Also, if your kids love cheese, add some low fat mozzarella or feta, which are rich in calcium.