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Annabel Karmel’s summer salads for tots

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Fresh start

Getting children to eat the right things early is so important. When they are really young they tend to try anything – that’s not to say they’ll like it, but they will give it a go. As they get older they might get fussy about trying new things, so encourage them to eat lots of healthy, fresh ingredients as early as possible so they develop good eating habits later.

Summer is the season we all look forward to: summer holidays for kids, a break from the school run for mum, longer days and the chance to spend quality time together. 

But six weeks with little ones in tow can leave you less than inspired when it comes to thinking up new, light and summery meal ideas. To get a head start have a look at my top tips and recipe ideas for delicious summer salads.

Enticing tots to enjoy salads

• Chop chop – children love to eat with their fingers, so cut things into smaller pieces. Lettuce can be shredded, radishes and tomatoes sliced or matchsticked, and carrots grated. Try some new vegetables like crunchy sugar snap peas or add things like tinned sweetcorn or small steamed broccoli florets.
• Keep it interesting – bland, watery textures won’t tantalise their taste buds. A mix of raw and cooked ingredients will keep things interesting. Non-veg additions work well – diced chicken, toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, caramelised pecans or even crispy bacon can really lift a fresh salad.
• Dress up – a delicious dressing always goes down well, especially on pasta or rice salads (or even couscous or bulghur wheat). A touch of balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil, a dash of sugar and mustard and a little seasoning could do the trick. Or try vinaigrette flavoured with a little soy sauce and honey. Give it a go with your children and keep a bottle of it handy in the fridge.
• A splash of colour – little ones love colour. Carrots, tomatoes and beetroot can bring a salad to life. Or why not warm it up with tiny new potatoes or sliced soft-boiled eggs?
• Playing with food – children love interacting with food and getting them in the kitchen helping you is a great start. Vegetable and fruit kebabs are a favourite with my family. Using straws insteas of wooden skewers, there is no end to what you can create – exotic fruit medleys, baby tomatoes with mozzarella or cucumber with rolled ham slices and cubes of cheese.
• Kids in the kitchen – let your little ones help choose their favourite salad ingredients while on the weekly shop and let them assemble it with you. If they can say they were in charge of the meal from start to finish, they will be proud to take it to the table and for everyone to tuck in.

Annabel’s top salad recipes

• Prawn pasta salad
• Lunch on a stick 
• Salmon & rice salad

You can find more recipes at

Ask Annabel

If you have any summer food questions that you’d like to ask Annabel, send us an email at and we will pass it on to Annabel to answer. Please include your name, children's name/s and ages, and where you live. Please note that in the event of a large reader response, Annabel may not be able to answer all questions received.

Salad picks for your shopping list