The Clean-Plate Chronicles: How I Got My Kid to Eat Salad

I have a child who will eat anything. As a baby, one of his favorite meals was liver and dried apricots. Now he’s seven and eats anything. Sushi, lamb curry, asparagus, smoked salmon, grilled octopus. I used to listen to mommies complaining about picky eaters and think they were just doing it wrong.

Then my second child came along, and I’d like to make a blanket apology to every mother in the entire world: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

My younger son is the most ornery little cuss who ever wore shoe leather. For the last few years, I have cooked every tempting food possible, and he turns up his button nose at all of it: No pasta. No cheese. No seasonal fruit. He’s four now his regular diet consists of four things.

Here they are:

1) Apples

2) Chocolate milk

3) Peanut-butter toast

4) Chicken fingers

Along with a multivitamin and my pediatrician’s reassurance, I have just about made peace with the fact that he’s not going to get scurvy. And to look at his sturdy back fleeing the table, you’d hardly guess what a staunch little refusenik he is.

But it makes me crazy that nothing green passes his lips. So I set out to make my child eat salad. I resolved it would not be the battle royal we had over blueberries.

“Just taste it.”


“You’ll love it.”




Instead, I employed stealth. “Want to help Mommy?” He’s delighted with kitchen work if he doesn’t have to eat the results. We poured olive oil in a jar, added red wine vinegar, and I let him squeeze in Dijon mustard. Then, wonder of wonders, I let him push half a clove of garlic through the garlic press. “Now we put the lid on and you shake it, shake it.”

We washed romaine and spun it in the salad spinner. Then I toasted a thick slice of sourdough bread and brushed it with olive oil, rubbed it with a hint of garlic, and diced it into cubes for croutons.

At dinner, my son-who-eats-everything wrapped a lettuce leaf around a crouton and dipped it in the vinaigrette. “Look, Mom,” he said, “Salad sushi!”

My younger son narrowed his eyes. “That’s mine,” he said belligerently. “I made it.” I shrugged and removed the vinaigrette from his older brother’s reach and put it by his plate. (I didn’t say I’m a good mother; just a determined one.) He made a salad sushi like his brother and put it tentatively in his mouth. Then reached for more. I started to breathe again.

Now when we make vinaigrette together, he says, “More Dijon!” and “Don’t forget the croutons!” He hasn’t added anything else to his repertoire, but now I can tell the playground moms, “Oh, my little one always eats salad.” And I thank heaven for small blessings.

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies? Chime in below!


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