Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jan. 26 ~ The Salad Bar Theory of Feeding Kids

As a mom, one of my biggest clean eating challenges is feeding my often-reluctant children.

To combat this I have developed what I like to call the salad bar theory. You know those huge salad bar/buffet restaurants with the "All You Can Eat" theme? Well, we have that at home quite frequently. We have a basic item and the kids get to add their toppings/add-ins. The only rule is that they must have one food from the protein section and one food from the veggie section. Aside from that, I try valiantly to keep my paws out of it.

This morning I was delighted when DD9 jumped right in to making her breakfast her own creation. It made me realize how easy it is to expand the salad bar theory to all three meals. Here are some examples:

Bases: Oatmeal, whole grain toast or English muffin
Proteins: Variety of Nut Butters, Yogurt cheese
Fruit: Thinly Sliced Apples, Smashed Strawberries, Blueberries, crushed pineapple, sliced banana
Toppings: Honey, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Chopped nuts
Bases: Wrap, pita or whole grain bread
Proteins: Hummus, Nut Butters, Thin Sliced Poultry or Steak
Veggies: Lettuce or Spinach, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Grated Carrots
Toppings: Shredded Cheese, Oil & Vinegar Dressings, Mrs. Dash, Guacamole, Tzatziki
Bases: Lettuce, Mixed greens, Baby Spinach
Proteins: Hard-boiled Eggs, Grilled sliced lean meat, kidney beans, chick peas, tuna
Veggies: Cold steamed broccoli or cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions
Toppings: Clean croutons, Oil and Vinegar dressing, Yogurt dressing, lime juice, chopped almonds or walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese
Bases: Fresh pizza dough, whole grain pitas, tortillas
Proteins: Refried Beans, Grilled Chicken, Seasoned Ground Meat
Veggies: Pizza sauce, Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Pineapple, Grated Carrot, Tomatoes, Spinach
Toppings: Shredded Cheese, Olives, Roasted Garlic, Feta Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Salsa
Tacos or Quesadillas:
Bases: Soft tortillas, tostada shells, hard taco shells, Pita bread
Protein: Refried Beans, Grilled Chicken, Ground Meat
Veggies: Lettuce, Spinach, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Salsa, Corn, Black Beans
Toppings: Shredded Cheese, Feta Cheese, Guacamole, Plain Yogurt
You could go a lot of different directions with this: stir fries, pasta dishes - the sky is the limit! This type of meal is pretty well the most popular way to go in our house. I often use this method when we have company too - other kids seem to think it is pretty fun to pick their own stuff.
Engage your creativity and try putting out a spread for the kids. If you chop up your veggies and proteins and put them in Rubbermaid containers, you can use the same basic ingredients for several meals.

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