Salad. It's the one thing that can cause a major battle at the dinner table in most households with toddlers and teens (and maybe even husbands)!
So when I came across a business that made salad look sexy and so delicious, and then discovered that they also have families with kids, I knew I had to ask them how salad consumption at their mealtimes rated.
The Devil Wears Salad comprises of 3 families, with a total of 7 kids of which 4 of them fall in the tween to teen age group. We spoke with Amy, one of the three crazy salad lovers in the team.
Amy, tell us a bit about yourself and your family/blurb.
There are only 3 of us in my small blended family and my daughter is 12 going on 36! I was born in Malaysia and my Chinese heritage has formed the basis of my culinary taste buds. I have however now lived in Australia longer than I have in Southeast Asia so I have a big repertoire of favourite things to eat. Living in Melbourne allows me to hone in on so many different cuisines and exciting produce.
We are consummate home cooks and rarely eat out or get takeaway. My partner loves to cook too but what we like to make is very different to me so we have a great partnership in the kitchen. My daughter is a bit of a foodie and will eat anything from simple hot dogs to escargot.
We love to travel and it is a really important part of who we are. We like mixing up cultural experiences with nature and super fun modern-day activities. We also love socialising. We spend a lot of time throwing casual dinners to milestone events for our family and friends simply because we love to create special moments for the people we love.
Why do you think salad has such a bad reputation, especially amongst children, teens and sometimes, husbands?
Salads have always struggled to come to the forefront because it is inevitably always associated with eating healthy. For those who decided to go on a bit of a raw movement of literally just leaves on a plate in an attempt to lose weight or detox, hasn’t done the salad any favours.
Salad is also the one dish on the dinner table that doesn’t get a lot of love. Any home cook would always try and master the main dish or perhaps the ensuing dessert. But the salad never gets that attention perhaps because we've already put so much effort on the other components. What happens then is the salad is always pretty much the same with very little creativity. Who can continue to eat lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber every day? It’s no wonder the kids and teens refuse to eat it. I would too!
Getting teens to embrace salad requires a little creativity and a better sell is required. Just as you can’t have a basic leaf salad every night, you can’t have potato salad every night either. The salads we create are incredibly diverse, using fun ingredients, a multitude of textures and flavours in the one dish and range from super easy to really fancy.
"Getting teens to embrace salad requires
a little creativity and a better sell is required."
Have you always loved salad as much as you do now?
My love for salads only started when I migrated to Australia and when I started cooking. Growing up in Southeast Asia, salads were not staple dishes. I grew up on laksa noodles and chilli crabs.
When I became more independent and I learnt to cook Western meals, I became more creative with my salads. I also come from a culture of a ton of potluck parties and I entertain family and friends on a regular basis so naturally, my salad repertoire just expanded over time.
Why is eating salad so important?
I create salads because they are delicious, not because I am on a healthy kick. And I feel that if I were to serve up a leg of lamb, it needs accompaniments. Much like Batman can’t live without Robin, main dishes simply would be incomplete without a salad.
They are important because it cuts through the big flavours and gives your entire meal a more rounded finish. They also make for great palette cleansers to give your taste buds a bit of a break from the heavier main course.
From a health perspective, there are usually some raw components in the salad. Introducing raw vegetables and fruits on a continual basis on the family table is important. The only difference is I am serving salads that are really tasty. I can’t expect my daughter to be chewing on a celery stalk just because I need her to up her raw vegetable intake.
Apart from just raw vegetables, getting some kids and teens to consume any vegetable is a big ask. We also love blanching, roasting, grilling and sautéing them to create some truly delicious recipes.
"Much like Batman can't live without Robin,
main dishes simply would be incomplete without a salad."
What is your favourite salad?
That is such a difficult question! That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child!
To best answer this question would probably be the one salad that I am continuously asked to make over and over again by family and friends. The one salad that my daughter is the biggest fan of, my Purple Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Mustard Tahini.
What are your 3 top tips to making salad enticing for the family?
#1 / Change of mindset.
If you’re eating salads because you think you should be eating them for health reasons but have zero joy in making them, then the whole family will be of the same mindset. If your husband or partner groans every time you put a salad on the dinner table, the kids will inevitably feel the same way.
Why can’t the salad be the heroine of the table and the roast chicken just something to have on the side? When a salad becomes the focal point, I bet you'll be serving something quite spectacular.
#2 / Be creative!
With over 100 salad recipes on our website, you’re truly spoilt for choice! We have a ton of salads that are easy to make, some can be made in under 20 minutes and we also have recipes that require no cooking. Mix it up, try something new and you’ll soon discover what your family likes.
#3 / Get your teens involved.
They are old enough to either help in the kitchen or be made responsible for the salad component. That way they will select salad recipes with ingredients and flavours that they prefer. Once salads become a bit more of a norm, encourage them to try new styles or produce they have never eaten before.
What was the biggest hurdle you used to have when it came to family mealtimes?
This is an interesting question because the usual challenges with family mealtimes I hear about constantly did not really apply to us. Phen, the other co-founder of The Devil Wears Salad, always tells me I don’t have a “normal” child.
My daughter grew up not liking chocolate, was not big on meat and preferred vegetables and had a super healthy appetite. In fact, my biggest issue was stopping her from eating too big a portion! That child could and can, still eat! We feel constantly blessed that she’s so adventurous with food. Certainly makes our family mealtimes much easier.
Amy, Phenie and Sammy are the creators of The Devil Wears Salad, a website filled with amazing salad recipes and droolworthy images and share a love for salad and entertaining!
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