I chuckle to myself when I see magazine articles about “Fun ways to get your kids to eat vegetables”. In my experience, limited to two boys aged almost 4 and almost 2, if a child doesn’t want to eat something no amount of fun or forcing will make them. They’re not eejits. It’s blending and hiding or walls covered in veg. Yet, irony free here I am presenting a “fun way” to feed salad to your young child. However, I don’t think this method is magical and mystical, I know that this will not make your vegetable hating child gobble them with glee, it will just encourage the ones who like them anyway to eat them more quickly.
My older fellow prefers his veggies to anything else and his usual lunch includes cucumber and peppers, if they are missing he will ask for them. When I was at home during the week I found that every lunchtime I’d dole out sandwiches, rolls or wraps and I got bored of them myself. So one day I dished up what I guess Heston Blumenthal and his ilk would call a “deconstructed wrap”. I put the wrap on top of the salad ingredients in a bowl and when I put it in front of him he declared “Wow, a secret surprise lunch” and lifted the clumsily placed wrap to reveal the salad ingredients. Shazam! The concept has evolved, but it’s basically an undressed layered salad in a cereal bowl if eaten at home or in a plastic tub with a lid if eaten as a packed lunch. This goes in his lunchbox at least once a week all year ’round and there’s never any left over.
My carnivorous toddler’s version of “Secret Surprise Lunch” contains only cheese, ham or chicken and sweetcorn with a wrap on top, because anything else will be picked off immediately and placed on his brother’s plate. He loves fruit and will eat veggies in dinners once they are mashed so I don’t fuss or force peppers on him.
The possibilities here are limited only by your imagination, the contents of your fridge and what your child will actually eat. Use dressing or don’t, use sliced pan if your bowl is small enough, add fruit, add cheese, go wild.
Secret Surprise Lunch
(I haven’t put any quantities as it doesn’t matter, use as much or as little as you like)
1 wrap per person
Cooked meat eg ham or chicken
Any other salad veggies that your child will eat
Place the wrap on chopping board and turn the bowl upside down on it, using it like a cookie cutter to cut out the outline of the bowl in the wrap. Place to one side.
Chop the veggies finely and place each item layer by layer in the bowl, ensuring that the current layer completely hides the last one.
Finish with the wrap on top. With the leftover bits of wrap you can use cookie cutters to make numbers or shapes and place them on the very top.
Present with a flourish.