Cooking WELL With Kids: How to Make the Best Summer Green Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
When children put their hands to preparing good food, they’re not only exposed to healthy eating but also given an opportunity to practice self-care. Welcome to our first post in a seasonal series we’re calling Cooking WELL With Kids.
Eating healthy and creating habits of self-care is a life-long process. For many of us, it’s taken a health crisis or diagnosis to wake us up to what we’re putting on and in our bodies. While our experiences have no doubt lead us to our wisdom, it’s hopeful to think future generations can learn from where we’ve been.
Cooking with kids is a not only a fantastic relationship builder, but it also allows kids to develop cooking skills, tastes and habits at an early age. Studies show that involving kids in the process of meal preparation increases the chances of them trying new foods. Ready to get your kiddos to join you in the kitchen? Keep reading for how to make a summer green salad with lemon vinaigrette and ask your child, toddler or teenager, to join you.
Step 1: Choose your ingredients.
Whether you’re in your garden, or at the grocery store or farmer’s market, give your child the practice of choosing ingredients they love or are willing to try. Even if they struggle to take a bite when the time comes to eat, they’ve had exposure to healthy food by touching and tasting it. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Greens for salad: spinach, romaine, arugula, kale or a combination
- Vegetables: pick 3 or more in different colors
- Nuts, cheese (plant or dairy-based) or fruit if you wish
- Salad dressing (recipe below)
Step 2: Wash the plants.
Wash your lettuce leaves and spin them or lay on a towel until completely dry. Give the rest of your vegetables a rinse as needed and wipe dry before cutting.
Tip: Did you know wet leaves don’t hold onto dressing and will make your salad soggy and heavy?
Step 3: Cut all ingredients.
- Rip or cut greens into bite-sized pieces.
- Cut veggies into sticks, cubes, squares or triangles.
Tip: Two-year-olds can scoop up vegetables with their hands and put them into bowls or de-stem veggies. Pre-school-aged to early elementary aged kids can slice safely with butter knives or lettuce knives, and upper elementary aged kids can successfully start using paring knives and chef knives with guidance and practice.
Step 4: Make the vinaigrette.
Your child may just become your in-house salad dressing expert once they feel successful with this simple recipe. Replace lemon juice with vinegar or another citrus, for variation. For a less savory dressing, omit the garlic and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey.
Easy Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1 lemon squeezed and strained (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup good olive oil (light tasting is best for salad dressing) or avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 garlic clove crushed (optional)
- Squeeze lemon and strain seeds.
- Whisk in mustard, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
- While whisking, add olive oil slowly and in a steady stream to create an emulsion.
Step 4: Dress your greens.
- Dress the greens with a spoonful of dressing at a time—you don’t need much! Toss leaves until all leaves are lightly coated and add another spoonful of dressing as needed.
- Sprinkle greens lightly with salt and pepper.
Tip: If using kale, dress greens ahead of time and let them rest for an hour or so to soften the leaves and make them easier to chew and digest.
Step 5: Create and serve.
- Layer your salad ingredients on top of your greens for a beautiful rainbow presentation.
- Drizzle a little bit of dressing on top of vegetables. If you like everything mixed, stir the ingredients, while being mindful that heavy pieces will sink to the bottom. Leaving vegetables on top allows individuals to take what they want.
- Add nuts or cheese, if you’re using.
- Top with herbs last as a finishing touch.
- Pass the extra dressing for individuals who want more.
- Serve and enjoy!
For another salad dressing, you and your kids can practice making, check out our White Wine Vinaigrette With Wedderspoon Manuka Honey.
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