Monday, February 9, 2009

Baby Spinach Salad with a Side of Deception

There are several times where I've pushed the envelope on truthiness in reporting the food on my children's plates. Unless I'm serving up homemade pizza or pasta or another favorite meal of theirs they come to the table with polite apprehension, at best, or, more commonly, like arrant skeptics. Their policy on food is Disgusting until Proven Edible.

I haven't been able to stomach lying to them about what they're eating like one pediatrician advised. My oldest is a virtual vegetarian which the good doctor considered unacceptable. More acceptable was that I find ways to sneak meat into her diet, which was not something I was willing, ethically or physically, to do. For all the hoopla over the Jessica Seinfeld book, the one thing I couldn't escape was that to keep foods from being detected by picky eaters there would have to be so little of that food present in the meal that the child couldn't possibly get the food's essential nutrients. For the amount of time spent steaming and pureeing, there's little nutritional benefit.

I'd prefer my kids get to know their veggies, and to develop an understanding of what they're putting in their mouths, whether it's a chopped salad, low fat brownies or baked cheese curls. Similarly, adults are well-advised to read labels and be more aware of the contents of our food choices.

This salad is the only item I've tricked them into eating by not telling them it was spinach. I just called it Baby Greens, as in "I made that baby greens salad you both like," while smirking to myself. They'd been eating it happily for several years before two things happened. First, I slipped and said, "Pass the spina- ...err, baby greens." Then, they started reading the produce packages in the fridge. It was only a matter of time. Luckily, they really do love the salad, so there was no backlash.

What foods do you trick your children in enjoying?

Baby Spinach Salad
Print recipe only here

Serves 4-6

This dressing takes its inspiration from the Garlic-Parmesan dressing in
Pizza, Pasta, Panini. It's a spicy one, due to the garlic.

In a salad bowl mix together:

* 2 cloves garlic, pressed
* 1 t kosher salt


* ¼ cup grated Parmesan
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 3-4 T red wine vinegar
* Fresh ground pepper

Balance flavors with more oil or vinegar to taste. Toss with 4-6 ounces baby spinach and serve.

Oh, and read this from The New York Times for more:

Spinach: Nutrition in a Bag
Those ubiquitous bags of baby spinach make for convenience food that’s hard to beat.


Anonymous said...

I too make spinach salads, without calling it's "green leafy's" in our house. Topped with nuts, and what ever berrys are fresh and a light dressing, it is suitable all year round. And so far so good, althought there was one close call on revealing the the true identity of the spinach when my mother was over!

Anonymous said...

When my kids were little we were reading Jan Brett's book, The Wild Christmas Reindeer and in one scene, our heroine is feeding Santa's reindeer this lovely green dinner. We called it reindeer hay and from then on, when I served any beautiful leafy green, it was Reindeer Hay and my two reindeer would gobble it up and take a few runs around the house "flying" like reindeer. They have loved leafy greens of all kinds for almost 20 years. They love kale, spinach, Swiss chard, chinese cabbage, beet and turnip greens and I have Jan Brett to thank for it all :)! Enjoy fresh food, what a gift!

Katie Fairbank said...

oh, I too love Jan Brett! The sauteed greens you mentioned are so great and I can't wait until my growing children come to enjoy them too.

we went dairy free for a couple of weeks recently and enjoyed our baby greens another favorite way - with just olive oil and lemon and a sprinkle of kosher salt. simply yum.

thanks, both, for visiting. :)

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