May 13th, 2014
This post and video are sponsored by Earthbound Farm Organic. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
May is my new favorite month, y’all! No, my birthday isn’t in May—and, anyway, I’m too old for a month to be my favorite by virtue of hosting my birthday. Rather, May is National Salad Month, and if there was ever a meal that deserves the spotlight, it’s salad. Wholesome, endlessly adaptable, and—if you go light on the crumbled bacon—full of good-for-you nutrition, I’m ready to celebrate the goodness of greens with my favorite family-friendly salad, Grilled Chicken and Mango Salad.
Yes, I called this salad family-friendly. Seriously.
Salad is a funny thing for families with young kids. And, if you don’t introduce salad to your kids when they are young, it’s a funny thing for families with older kids, too. The truth is that kids need to learn how to love salads. Sadly, a hunger for leafy greens doesn’t come naturally to most folks, certainly not before adulthood sets in. But that doesn’t mean that you need to leave your child’s taste for salads to chance. Believe it or not, you can introduce salads to your little ones pretty early. Successfully, even.
Inspiring some kids to eat salad is a simple matter of putting salad in front of them regularly. You do it over and over and one day they’ll give it a try. Other kids need more coaxing. Either way, the three keys to (eventually) getting kids to eat salad are to:
1. serve salad,
2. eat salad yourself, and
3. layer salads with lots of healthy ingredients that your kids like and can pick out.
Think of these are your salad commandments and try living by them in May for salad month!
This Chicken Mango Salad is a favorite because it has so many kid-friendly ingredients that it can easily serve as a main meal, even if your kid won’t go near greens with a 10-foot pole, like my little one.
The foundation of this salad is Earthbound Farm Half and Half, a delicious blend of Earthbound’s mild Spring Greens and baby spinach thrown in for a nutritional boost. These greens are perfect for kids just starting to eat lettuces and my favorite all-purpose blend.
Then, on top of that, I pile on grilled chicken, hunks of Earthbound Farm fresh mango (yes, organic mangos!), queso blanco, extra veggies (use whatever your kids like to eat raw—I use cucumbers and red pepper)‚ and fried shallots. I toss the whole thing with a quick mango vinaigrette that comes together in the blender and, voila, a big dinner salad for me, the hungry papa and—sometimes—the big kid. A plate of grilled chicken, mango, cheese and raw veggies for the little one.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make fried shallots you can use toasted slivered almonds for crunch and texture instead. But, really, the shallots make this salad. They are easy to throw together and can be made and stored ahead of time. Just cut peeled shallots as thin as possible, toss in flour, shake off the excess, and dunk in about an inch of hot oil until they turn dark golden brown.
You’ll be amazed at the power of putting salad on the table regularly, especially when it’s got stuff in it that the kids can happily pick out. They may only pull out chicken or cheese or almonds at first but, after time, they’ll start trying more and more. And one day, before you know it, they’ll fork a big bite of loaded greens and start chomping. Even if they spit it out, you know you’ve got them on the road to enjoying one of the most feel-good meals we can feed our bodies.
Just because we have little ones who may be salad averse doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate Salad Month! My friends at Earthbound Farm and I want to know what you’ll toss up to celebrate salad. Leave a comment and let us know!
And be sure to visit Earthbound Farm’s community for healthier happier living, Organic Bound, to find great tips on things to Cook, Plan, Learn and Explore in the kitchen and beyond.
Grilled Chicken and Mango Salad
(Can be adapted to share with kids 6+ mos)*
For the salad:
1 11-onunce clamshell Earthbound Farm Half and Half
1 large chicken breast, grilled, cut into 1″ pieces (about 1 1/2 cups cubed or shredded chicken)
1/2 red pepper, washed, seeded and julienned
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2″ rounds that are halved
1 fresh mango, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
2 small shallots, peeled and fried, see notes above (optional; you can substitute toasted slivered almonds)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup chopped mango, fresh or thawed frozen
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plust more to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. To make the salad, place washed greens in a large bowl. Add chicken, red pepper, and cucumber.
2. Make the dressing: Add 1/2 cup chopped mango, lime juice, vinegar, and salt to a blender and mix on medium speed. Once a smooth puree, slowly pour in the olive oil with the blender still running. Stop as soon as the dressing comes together, not even a minute.
3. Toss greens, chicken, and veggies with dressing to taste. Add mango, cheese, and shallots and toss some more. Taste and adjust dressing and seasoning.
*Note: Watch the video to see how you can easily adapt this salad to share it with even your littlest eaters. If they are not yet eating finger foods, puree or pulse whatever ingredients you are sharing with them into an age-approrpiate consistency.
**Note: Number of servings depends on whether this is plated as an appetizer or main dish.