Last night we had good old 'vegetable pasta' for dinner again. The night before, my husband had gone well, slightly off piste and it hadn't been approved by the committee. Kids will be kids and trying new stuff is always risky! Potato wedges (read baked potatoes cut up) with tuna and sweet corn and green beans. I know, it sounds lovely, doesn't it? But there wasn't one child who wolfed it down and said "yum". The twins were a bit off colour and Sebastian, strange to say won't touch potatoes. Dante, as ever, ate the fish and not much else. Galen, under duress, ate his beans and a bit of potato. I ate everything, only there wasn't quite enough. Sometimes these things happen.
So last night, I stuck to safe ground. Vegetable pasta it was. And a green salad for the adults. Galen (aged 6) does eat lettuce from time to time but I thought this was not one of those times.
I was wrong. He ate pretty much most of what was supposed to be my share. He asked for more. So we went and made more, for both of us. And while I was getting pudding ready for the others, he ate all of that too. Luckily there isn't a shortage of lettuce in our house. He says he wants to help make the salad dressing again for lunch today.
Why is it important for us to eat green vegetables?
Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage are a great source of insoluble fiber. The stuff that pretty much passes straight through our bodies. It’s great as a ‘bulking agent’ and a good way to avoid constipation. Sadly, most people don’t eat enough fiber and it’s important to get kids into good habits early on. Eating enough fibre can help avoid weight issues when you're an adult as well as help with blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Vegetables are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that help to keep our bodies healthy.
Children can be put off vegetables by the texture
So, what's the thing? Why do kids not really like lettuce and then suddenly eat a whole field of them? Well, not liking lettuce or any leafy green isn't really strange. It's not just the taste, it's the texture. When you're little and getting used to food, you like things that are a bit easier. Lettuce and cabbage take a bit of chewing and they're quite tough and woody.
And why did Galen decide to eat a whole lettuce in one go? I expect it was a combination of it being around all the time. But also the dressing. The lovely mustardy, lemony dressing. Yesterday I made it with lemon rather than vinegar and clearly that's what Galen likes. I mix a bit of dijon mustard with olive oil, so that the oil emulsifies and goes thick and gloopy and then add a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar. Galen helped to make it second time round. And actually it's quite easy, all he has to do is mix the oil and mustard together.
Homemade salad dressing is quick, easy, cheap and healthy.
Homemade salad dressing is much healthier than most shop bought salad dressings. Not to mention much cheaper. You can easily make a few days of dressing and keep it in the fridge to use when you want. Plus, it’s easy to change slightly for a bit of variety. Experiment with different vinegars and mustards. Try adding some herbs, crushed garlic, honey. See what you come up with. And let the kids help too. They love being ‘in charge’! ;)
I've tried another dressing that I really like recently. Yoghurt, olive oil and mint. It's a really fresh, summery dressing that you can pour generously over your lettuce. Needless to say the kids don't like it but I think it's great.
Basic salad dressing
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Mustard (I like dijon)
Mix the olive oil with a generous dollop of dijon mustard until it goes thick and gloopy. Add lemon juice (and anything else you fancy.)
Easy mint and yoghurt dressing
- Plain yoghurt
- Olive oil
Mix together some plain yoghurt, olive oil and mint. I use a little hand held mixer to make sure the mint is finely chopped.
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