I know that kids like veggies, but sometimes you have to know how to get them excited about it! I am often asked how I help kids find the joy in trying new veggies. It’s actually easier than you may think. My spring-inspired Curly Whirly Asparagus Salad holds all the keys to a playful adventure with food.
Let me walk you through this recipe and give you some examples of how I talk to kids:
It Starts With Fun
When we first get into the kitchen, I get kids involved right away with hands-on prep. I often start like this:
“Let’s inspect our asparagus! Which end is the woody, fibrous one? First use your eyes. Starting from the pointed spear and moving down the stalk, look for where it goes from bright green to shades of white. Now, feel along the spear gently towards the spot you identified with your eyes. Does it break at that point easily if you bend it?” Snap!
Give Kids a Task
Keeping kids engaged in the kitchen requires you give them a task that involves skill and focus. Peeling asparagus takes both. Here’s what I’d tell them:
“Hold onto the more fibrous end of the asparagus, flat against the cutting board, while you carefully press down with your peeler to make perfect, curly strips of this awesome veggie without breaking it.” (Check out the asparagus video below)
It’s always great to give kids a little praise when they’ve mastered a task. It makes them hungry for more!
Taste that Veggie
I use taste as my main tool for engaging kids along the journey, always asking for their input. The words I use may go a little something like this:
“Chefs always try every ingredient they are working with. Let’s try one of these shaved asparagus curls! That’s what I call quality control! We can’t use it if it’s not good, right?”
“Do you think the honey mustard dressing needs anything else? Is it sweet enough?”
“Let’s dip the asparagus in it to see if they go well together. Hmmm…do you still like the dressing just as it is? Does it need anything else?”
“What do you say if we toss the raw asparagus in the dressing? No? Ok, we can use the dressing on the side as a dip! Cool. What else might be tasty dipped in our dressing?”
“How about some cheese grated on top? Maybe we need to try some of that, too, for quality control of course!!”
Here’s a quick video to guide you through shaving asparagus!
In a nutshell, kids love to be treated like adults. They have valued opinions and are insatiable learners. Start with fun, build kitchen confidence by trusting they can handle more challenging tasks, and end with taste. Your kitchen adventures just may prove to help your family find new veggie favorites they never knew were so darn tasty.
This recipe was created for our Joyful 12 Spring Learning Lab. We’d love for you to stop by and check out what we’re cooking over this season. In this recipe and throughout the course, we offer suggestions for how you can engage your kids in a fun and joyful way to explore the veggie kingdom.
- asparagus, 1 bunch
- parmesan cheese (grated), optional topping
- honey, 4 TBS
- dijon mustard, 3 TBS
- rice wine vinegar, 2 TBS
- lemon, 1/2
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Using a vegetable peeler, place asparagus on a cutting board. Hold at the woody end, opposite the spear. Peel strips away from you, pressing down against the cutting board. The asparagus may break. Don’t worry! Peel as much as you can. Otherwise, you can cut the pieces into thin strips or rounds!
- Make the honey mustard dressing by placing all the ingredients into a mason jar and shaking or by using a whisk and combining in a bowl.
- Grate Parmesan cheese if you plan to top your salad with it. We think it’s extra yummy!
- Place shaved asparagus into a bowl.
- Toss 2-3 tablespoons of the honey mustard dressing with the asparagus. Taste and add more dressing as desired.
- Top with some shaved parmesan and salt and pepper to your desired taste.
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