How Can You Trick Kids Into Eating Salad? By Adding Granola.

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
June 23 2014 8:47 AM

How to Trick Kids Into Eating Salad

Granola
How can you trick kids into eating salad? By adding granola.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

This granola began as a solution to a problem and that problem is salad. 

This raises a couple of questions: Why is salad a problem? And why are granola and salad in the same sentence?

Advertisement

We will take these in order. First, only someone who is not a child could ask the first question. This column is firmly against the conceit of child-friendly food: It takes the controversial position that children are people too, and that children should be fed people-friendly food. (It thinks the science is still out on whether children have separate dessert stomachs, though.) 

But any child will tell you that salad was conceived by someone who loathes children. (Someone with the last name of salad, presumably.) Not salads with chunks of roasted vegetables and nuts and cheese and other easy-reader foods. I mean the sort of elegant, refined spring salad that is almost nothing but baby leaves and herbs and a bare minimum of dressing. It is all texture and grace and subtlety. And if you serve it to a child, he will assume it is a practical joke and wait for you to bring him some actual food because seriously

Basically, salad is Stuff Grown-ups Like. 

This brings us to the second question, and my thought that if I put Cheetos on the salad, they might eat it. But I knew that only credentialed avant chefs can pull off that trick—if someone like Grant Achatz puts Cheetos on a salad, that’s OK because he is really putting the idea of Cheetos on the salad. You need a sturdy conceptual superstructure to support the weight of the Cheetos, in other words. My kitchen did not come with a sturdy conceptual superstructure, despite my listing it on our wedding registry, so I had to rethink. 

Walnut-Rosemary Savory Granola 2

Photo by Mark Weinberg

So: granola. Disrupting granola has been restaurant shtick for a while now, which makes sense. Granola is all form and no content: You can fill its frame with just about anything. (Pickled mango. Black pepper. Matzo. Maybe even Cheetos.) I wanted a simple savory granola—lots of nuts and seeds, a few herbs—to sprinkle over a leafy spring salad. Something to give a salad some crunch, a little fat and a little salt, a new and improved crouton. Besides, all children are capable of eating every crouton in a bowl of salad without even accidentally consuming a speck of non-crouton salad. (It’s a test they have to take to get their child license.) I wanted something that mingled with the leaves—you want the granola, you get some baby spinach with it. And then you learn to love baby spinach and request it at every meal and for your birthday dinner. 

That last part: still in process. But the granola-plus-leaves idea? It clicked, for all age groups. 

The version below is a rosemary and walnut mixture, but it goes without saying that this is a highly flexible recipe. It’s more about ratios than ingredients. The specific ingredients are yours to be specific with. That said, a note on sweetness: it turns out that granola with no sweetener at all is little too savory, which is why there’s a touch of maple syrup here. It’s enough to make it a surprisingly suitable morning granola (given how preposterously sweet granola tends to be, this is almost palate-cleansing by comparison).

What we didn’t eat with the salad, we had with yogurt for breakfast. Without foliage.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup steel cut oats

½ cup raw buckwheat groats

1½  cup raw walnut pieces

¾ cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

¾ teaspoon coarse salt

1 egg white

2 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ cup olive oil

Nicholas Day's book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World, was published in April 2013. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.