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How to Make a Salad Your Kids Will Never Forget!!

on August 10 | in Real Food | by | with 17 Comments

Note from Mommypotamus: Today’s guest post come from the fabulous Katja Swift, a clinical herbalist currently serving as the director of the Commonwealth School of Herbal Medicine. She has guest lectured at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Vermont Medical School, but what REALLY impresses me about her is her work to pass anti-GMO legislation and her brilliant plan to save the whales.

Silly Me!

In yesterday’s post on cultivating your child’s inner foodie I forgot to mention one of the BEST ways to get them to eat their greens: Make a Wild Salad! You get to go outdoors, eat good food, identify plants, “cook” together, experience new flavors – all in one salad bowl!

All you need is whatever you would normally put in a salad – tomato, cucumber, avocado, and pecans are some of my favorites. Hard boiled eggs are good, or bits of real bacon are also great! You can have some lettuce on hand in case you don’t gather enough wild leaves, or if you want something familiar to blend in with the new flavors.

To Your Normal Salad Fixin’s, Add Some Wild Plants!

Here is a list, with photographs, so that you can go out and collect with confidence. You can find these plants in your yard, around woodsy edges of a playground, or any other public park/nature trail that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides/herbicides. Please keep in mind (and teach your children) three important rules about collecting wild food:

  1. Always ask permission before you pick a plant, just like we ask permission before we play with our friend’s toys. Asking permission shows respect for the plant, and reminds us that we do not “own” nature: we live together here. When the plant says you may, don’t forget to say thank you! Remember that this plant is alive, and when you pick the leaf, the plant is sharing its life with you.
  2.  Only take a small amount from any given area. You need to leave enough plants there to grow and go to seed so that more will grow next year, and you need to leave enough leftover for the animals to eat. Perhaps you agree that you will only take one leaf off of any given plant, or one flower for every five flowers that you see. This will help keep your harvest sustainable!
  3. Never take the strongest, largest plant from a patch. That plant is the grandmother plant, and she is the “backbone” of the whole clump. To keep the whole patch healthy, take only a small amount, and allow the strongest plant to remain untouched.

 Now, Go Out And Collect!

Dandelion

Slightly bitter, but delicious, and abundant! Dandelion provides many minerals, improves digestion, and aids in kidney function.

Possible look-alikes are Chicory or Wild Lettuce, both edible. Chicory is good for your liver, though Wild Lettuce is a bit more bitter.

 

Violet Leaves

Slightly sweet, and extra fun because they’re heart-shaped! Violet is good for a heathy immune system. (Possible look-alike – Garlic Mustard. Edible, and delicious!)

 

Sorrel

“Irish Clover” – each of the three leaves is a perfect little heart. Sorrel has yellow flowers and a wonderful sour taste that kids seem to love. If sorrel grows near you, it’s sure to be a favorite!

Henbit or Ground Ivy

These two plants are related, and you may have one or both growing in your area. They’re members of the mint family, and although they don’t taste like peppermint, they are delicious! You can eat the leaves and the flowers, and even the stems if you’d like some crunch! (Possible look-alike – Deadnettle, also a edible mint family plant)

 

 Lamb’s Quarters

Frequently referred to as the single most nutritious plant known! They grow everywhere – even in the desert – and have a pleasant mild taste. Often called “Goosefoot” – the leaves look like goose foot prints, and often have a bit of white “dust” on the baby leaves.

Toss everything in a bowl and savor the flavors AND the moment . . . your kids are going to remember this forever!!!

Photo Credit: Er We, Shiki Gami

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17 Responses to How to Make a Salad Your Kids Will Never Forget!!

  1. Heather says:

    Oh yay! I wouldn’t say I am exactly observant when it comes to local species of plants, but I did happen to recognize two of these right off. Katie is going to love these, thank you!

  2. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    love, love, LOVE it! thank you!!!

  3. Carla Smith Veinot via FB says:

    My kids would never forget it but they wouldn’t eat it! (they looked at them and said ew).

  4. @Carla – LOL! I would probably say that too if I were them, but the owner of a Bed & Breakfast DID get me to try one when I was a kid by adding lovely edible flowers drizzled in honey. It’s one of my favorite memories from that trip!

  5. Angie Richardson via FB says:

    I made a salad one time with flowers in it and my daughter said you aren’t ‘supposed’ to eat flowers. I thought it was a wonderful salad but she wouldn’t touch it, lol.

  6. Well, more for you , then!

  7. Jolee Burger says:

    I recently put some Rose of Sharon flowers in my husband’s salad, as well as my own. I noticed his clean plate at the sink… clean except for the flowers. I, however, enjoyed them. I notice that my kids will eat something OUTSIDE easier than they will eat it inside. If they pick it right off the plant and pop it into their mouths that is more appealing that putting it into a bowl and bringing it indoors. Just a thought.

    • Heather says:

      Great point, Jolee! I used to love harvesting and eating watercress fresh from a Colorado stream and Katie loves sampling our herb garden. Love that you served flowers to your hubs!

  8. krissee says:

    ok, well that’ll teach me to pick all the sorrel from my yard like it’s a weed! It always looked pretty tasty but I just didn’t think i could eat it like a salad.

  9. I’m not surprised about kids not eating things picked from the “wild”, even when the wild is pretty tame! But, that’s exactly why we need to keep doing it – society is teaching our children that wild things can kill you, so they’re afraid. While wild things do need to be respected, it’s not good to live in a society that fears plants!

    I love this quote from Stephen Buhner:
    One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world.
    Our mothers intuitively understood something essential: the green is poisonous to civilization. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, nonlinear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic.
    Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it, the more we will awaken.
    -stephen buhner, the secret teachings of plants

    I think that awakening is exactly what is needed these days (though I can attest that awakening doesn’t actually require ragged hair! :-) )

  10. [...] Mommypotamus: for teaching me how to make a salad my kids will never forget. [...]

  11. Oh, my word! What a gorgeous salad.

  12. Azline says:

    The “Sorrel” pictured is actually woodsorrel. Sorrel is unrelated and quite different, although you can eat it too.

  13. [...] mommypotamus.com via Josefa Ciccarelli on [...]

  14. gnomepete says:

    I would suggest being careful WHERE you harvest your plants from. Have hazardous sprays been applied there? Herbicides? Pesticides? I’d also suggest wild violet flowers; sweet and pretty. Picture at:
    http://www.garden.org/weedlibrary/?q=show&id=2397

  15. […] and sliced beets or a cool lentil or orzo pasta salad are perfect accompaniments for this meal. Wild Salad Wow! Have you ever seen anything like this?  This blogger loves to mix wild plants with her […]

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