Recipe Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad for Kids

Beyond the Beige: Woo veggie skeptics and picky eaters with a plateful of palate-pleasing colour

July 15, 2022

Article by

Silver Hills Bakery

Watch any cooking show and every chef will say, “We eat with our eyes.” Presentation matters—and that’s just as true for the grown-ups as it is for kids! But you don’t need the knife skills of an award-winning fruit carver or bento box artist to entice your little ones to eat healthy food. Our Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad for Kids is a fast and easy feast that’s sure to tempt anyone to taste the spectrum of flavour beyond the beige.

Lean into Natural Sweetness

Even the pickiest kids will eat fruit of some kind. But getting them to eat veggies can be another matter entirely! That’s why our Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad recipe leans into seasonal fruit and kid-friendly veggies that appeal to the sweeter side.

Bitter(-ish) broccoli or (slightly) spicy radishes can be an acquired taste for young palates. But sweet red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, and the ever-popular combo of carrots, corn, and peas are easier entries into the world of vegetables.

Even though they’re sweeter, these kid-friendly veggies add just enough savoury flavour to help keep this dish from falling into full fruit salad territory. And they add tasty textural contrast, too.

But the potential for this Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad recipe to woo picky eaters doesn’t stop with a sweet and colourful assortment of kid-friendly veg. Three more tasty tricks await help you make mealtime magic with this salad!

1) Mix-and-Match for the Win

Every seasoned parent knows no tactic is truly foolproof when it comes to kids. But a little choice can go a long way when you’re on a mission to get your kids to eat better. (And learn to make healthy food choices to last a lifetime).

Give kids the freedom to choose their own ingredients—and some gentle guardrails to guide them—and you’re on your way to salad success!

Head to the produce section or farmers market hand-in-hand and invite them to choose at least one fruit or veggie of each colour from the rainbow of recommended ingredients below.

Nudge them to choose based on what’s fresh and in season. Be sure to include ingredients you already know they’ll eat alongside any untried options.

Don’t forget to pick at least one (preferably sprouted!) plant-based protein—and throw in generous handfuls of sprouted whole grain croutons!—to make this Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad for Kids a seriously satisfying meal or side!

Why Eat the Rainbow?

Leading health organizations advocate for eating the rainbow—and it’s not just for looks. Why? Fruits and veggies of every colour of the rainbow are rich in micronutrients, including vitamins, and antioxidants (like Vitamins A, C, and E) and phytonutrients. What are phytonutrients?  Compounds with long, scientific-sounding names like carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids, flavones, isoflavones, catechins, and anthocyanins known to help lower the risk of chronic diseases, certain cancers, and heart disease1.

Each colour in the rainbow of fruits and veggies has their own set of micronutrients that are the stars of the show:

  • Red: Anthocyanins and other antioxidants, lycopene, Vitamin A, and other carotenoids.
  • Orange and Yellow: Carotenoids, beta cryptoxanthin.
  • Green: Chlorophyll, sulforaphane, isocyanate, Vitamin K.
  • Blue and Purple: Anthocyanins, and other antioxidants.

Encouraging kids to eat from the whole rainbow of fruits and veggies helps them create healthy habits for life! Establishing a positive—and fun—relationship with healthy food is the key.

Now that you know how good the rainbow is to eat, here’s a list of colourful fruits and vegetables you could choose to use in your one-of-a-kind take on our easy sprouted rainbow salad:

Red

  • Veggies:
    • Red bell peppers, sliced
    • Beets, peeled and spiralized raw (or roasted (or pickled) beets, cubed)
  • Fruits:
    • Strawberries, sliced
    • Raspberries
    • Cherries, pitted and halved
    • Pomegranate arils (seeds)
    • Dried cranberries

Orange

  • Veggies:
    • Orange bell peppers, sliced
    • Carrots, spiralized (or grated)
  • Fruits:
    • Apricots, pitted and sliced (or dried apricots, chopped)
    • Oranges (if using navel, slice into supremes (see Tips); if mandarins, use segments)

Yellow

  • Plant-based Proteins:
    • Sprouted chickpeas (or use cooked (if using canned, drain and rinse))
  • Veggies:
    • Yellow bell peppers, sliced
    • Corn kernels (if fresh, cut off the cob; if frozen, defrost (or try canned baby corn))
  • Fruits:
    • Peaches, pitted and sliced
    • Nectarines, pitted and sliced
    • Mango, cubed

Green

  • Plant-based Proteins:
    • Sprouted lentils (green or French green)
    • Edamame (shelled), cooked
  • Veggies:
    • Sprouted green peas (or use fresh; if frozen, defrost)
    • Snap peas (or snow peas), whole or sliced into bite-sized pieces
    • Cucumber (English or Persian), sliced
  • Fruits:
    • Kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
    • Grapes (quartered (or halved if small) if serving to children under 5)
    • Apples, diced
    • Pears, diced

Blue & Purple

  • Plant-based Proteins:
    • Sprouted adzuki beans
  • Veggies:
    • Purple cabbage, finely sliced or shredded
  • Fruits:
    • Blueberries
    • Blackberries
    • Grapes (quartered (or halved if small) if serving to children under 5)
    • Plums, pitted and sliced

2) “I Can Do It Myself!”—the Power of DIY for Dinner

Beyond making independent choices, few things make kids feel more empowered than being able to do it themselves. That’s why we’ve made DIY one of the secret ingredients in our Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad for Kids!

Grow-it-Yourself Sprouts

You don’t need a garden (or even a window box) to help your kids connect with where food comes from. Sprouts are a fast—and rewarding—way to grow your own food.

And it’s so easy even a preschooler can do it all by themselves!

Need another reason to nudge sprouted lentils (or another sprouted plant-based protein option) onto the must-use ingredients list for this Sprouted Rainbow Salad?

Sprouted seeds and grains are sweeter. Sprouting adds more, better-for-you, easier-to-digest nutrition to every bite2! And your kids will have extra incentive to try what they sprout because everything tastes better when you grow it yourself!  

Here’s all you need to get your kids started sprouting the lentils for this recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp quality dried green lentils
  • 1 clean mason jar
  • 1 rubber band (or mason jar ring)
  • 1 square of clean cheesecloth (large enough to cover the mouth of the jar)
  • clean, cool water for soaking and rinsing

Start by soaking your lentils 4 – 8 hours (or overnight). After soaking, rinse your lentils twice a day, and drain completely to keep your sprouts in a clean and moist environment as they grow. In 2 – 3 days, your sprouted lentils will be ready for salad! (Store in the fridge for 5 – 7 days).

For a how-to on all things sprouted—including soak and sprout times for other kid-friendly sprouts like green peas and chickpeas that are equally delicious in this recipe—see our guide in Part 3 of our FREE Why Sprouted Handbook.

(Tip: Sprouted lentils triple or quadruple in volume from dried! Two tablespoons of dried lentils will turn into one-half to two-thirds of a cup of sprouted lentils to use in this recipe). 

Turn Up the Texture

Good looking food and tempting aromas draw diners in for a first bite. Taste and flavour make or break a dish. And texture plays a surprisingly big role in our experience with food—especially for kids.

The picky kids’ litany of reasons to reject a food includes:

  • Too soft
  • Too hard
  • Too crunchy
  • Too loud
  • Too round
  • Too square
  • Too wet
  • Too dry
  • Too slimy

…And on it goes! But as much as kids can hold texture against any food in front of them, parents can use texture to swing a food in their kids’ favour.

Starting with how you slice it.

For reasons grown-ups may never understand, simply changing the shape of a vegetable can turn “Yuck!” into “YUM!” We’ve known kids who won’t touch carrots of any shape—whole carrots, baby carrots, sliced carrots, carrot sticks, carrot cubes—but will eat spiralized carrots by the fistful.

Although your mileage may vary, a spiralizer can be a parent’s secret weapon for sneaking in healthy veggies! Transform zucchini into nummy noodles. Spin beets into magically munchable magenta threads.

And be sure to invite your kids to turn the crank for a DIY power-up that will make those fun veggie spirals all the tastier!

(Tip: Test before you invest! Borrow from a friend or pick up a gently-used spiralizer second hand to make sure you’re not adding one more gadget to a pricey pile of once-used tools!)

3) Dress Down: Keep it Simple with Shake or Blend Salad Dressings

Bold vinegars, flavourful extra virgin olive oils, and sophisticated seasonings that appeal to gourmet-minded grown-ups are lost on the tender palates of picky kids.

So save the good stuff and try these two fast and easy kid-friendly salad dressings instead.

Sticking with the DIY theme, you can choose from a Simple Shake & Go Citrus Dressing to make in a jar or an Easy Blender Raspberry Dressing to whiz up in seconds. Let your kids measure and shake or make some noise with the push of a button.

We chose mild ingredients that won’t overwhelm salad newcomers—and let the flavours and sweetness of the rainbow of ingredients shine through. Use a light olive oil (or other mild-tasting vegetable oil) for either dressing. Reach for the most delicate vinegar in your pantry for the Raspberry version. And match the citrus to the children at your table.

Orange juice offers the least-challenging option to the Shake & Go Citrus Dressing, while lemon or lime can be exciting for kids who crave some sour with their sweet. Dial up the flavour (without turning up the tartness) by adding a little zest to the jar.

Got kids who complain of black pepper being too spicy? Skip (or skimp on) the pepper. Use yellow mustard instead of Dijon. Or dial back the mustard to the tiniest squeeze.

We designed these dressings for you to adapt. So change up the ratios (see Tip), use the mildest ingredients you have, and pass the jar (or blender button) to your kids. (Just make sure the lid is on tight!!)

Make it Marvelous!

Throw your kids’ fruit, veggie, and plant-based protein picks in a bowl. Heap on a few handfuls of crunchy sprouted croutons. Drizzle on a DIY dressing. Toss it all together, pull up a bowl for everyone, grab some forks (or spoons!), and dig in.

And be sure to get their first-bite reviews! Invite your kids to try a forkful with a piece of every colour in their Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad creation. What do they like? What would they add more of? Or use less of (or swap out) next time?

(Tip: Add “shoot-your-own-video-review” to your bag of DIY tricks! If your kids are fans of child YouTube stars who review everything from toys to treats to games, film their first-bite reviews on your phone for the fun of it! (The footage never needs to leave your family’s private digital library (unless you want it to, of course!))).

Because this salad is made for many next-times—you and your kids have the power to go on a different rainbow flavour adventure every time! There is no one right way to make it. So take notes of love-its and leave-its. Switch it up by the season. Try new combos. (The wilder and weirder the better!).

And most importantly, have fun with your food.

1 Minich, D. M., A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2019, June 2, 2019. Accessed June 23, 2022. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2019/2125070/
2 Benincasa P., Falcinelli B., Lutts S., Stagnari F., Galieni A.. Sprouted Grains: A Comprehensive Review.Nutrients. 2019; 11(2):421. Accessed December 4, 2019. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/2/421/htm

Recipe Details

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Ingredients

For the Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad:

  • ½ cup red fruits or veggies (we used diced red bell pepper)
  • ½ cup orange fruits or veggies (we used spiralized carrots)
  • ½ cup yellow fruits or veggies (we used sliced peaches)
  • ½ cup green fruits or veggies (we used sprouted green peas)
  • ½ cup blue fruits or veggies (we used blueberries)
  • ½ cup purple fruits or veggies (we used thinly shredded red cabbage)
  • ½ – 1 cup plant-based protein , preferably sprouted (we used sprouted green lentils)
  • ½ – 1 cup sprouted croutons (we made ours from 20 Grain Train bread using our sprouted garlicky croutons recipe)

For the Simple Shake & Go Citrus Dressing:

  • 2 – 3 Tbsp lemon, lime, or orange juice (zested first if squeezing fresh (1 tsp zest optional))
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • To taste salt and pepper

For the Easy Blender Raspberry Dressing:

  • 2 – 3 Tbsp rice vinegar (or raspberry vinegar if you have it (or lemon juice))
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ – ½ cup raspberries , fresh or thawed from frozen
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • To taste salt and pepper

Instructions

For the Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad:

  1. If you’re growing your own, start your sprouts 3 – 4 days ahead. (Or see Tip below).
  2. Prepare a batch of sprouted croutons (see Tip below). We made ours with 20 Grain Train, but The Big 16™ or your favourite Silver Hills Bakery sprouted whole grain bread would be equally tasty!
  3. Wash, slice, chop, or spiralize your fruits and veggies from each colour of the rainbow. (If you have them, a set of small prep bowls are helpful). Measure your sprouted plant-based protein.
  4. Prepare the dressing of your choice. (See instructions for each below).
  5. Combine your rainbow of fruit, veggie, and sprouted plant-based protein ingredients, sprouted croutons, and dressing in a large bowl. Toss well to coat and serve. (Packing a picnic or taking to-go? See our Tip below for mason jar salad how-to instructions).

For the Simple Shake & Go Citrus Dressing:

  1. Measure all dressing ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Shake until well-blended. Taste and adjust as desired (see our Tip below). Shake again immediately before pouring and dress your salad to taste. (Some people enjoy saucier salads than others—if you prefer yours lightly dressed, start with half the dressing, toss, taste, and add more as you like it).

For the Easy Blender Raspberry Dressing:

  1. Measure all dressing ingredients into a blender or small food processor. Blend until raspberries are puréed.
  2. Taste and adjust as desired (see our Tip below).
  3. Dress your salad to taste (see note above in Citrus Dressing instructions).
  4. Note: our Easy Blender Raspberry Dressing makes ½ cup. Store any unused dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Try these handy tips!

  • Craft your croutons ahead. A full 6-slice batch of Sprouted Garlicky Croutons makes far more than even the biggest crouton fan could need for one Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad. Don’t need that many? Halve the recipe. Or make a full batch and save the rest for later. They’ll keep in an airtight container or zip top bag for up to 2 weeks—or freeze them for 4 – 6 weeks if salads aren’t on your every-week menu.
  • Do garlicky croutons go with a sweeter salad? Our taste testers would give an enthusiastic thumbs-up “Yes!” Still not convinced? Just skip the garlic.
  • Got a plain-bun, no-sauce kind of kid? Let the salad ingredients speak for themselves. Serve the dressing on the side to give your kids even more control over the flavours in their bowl.
  • Got a foods-can’t-touch, segmented plate fan? Who says this salad needs to be tossed? Let your kid serve themselves a small-but-separate pile from each colour of the rainbow. If breaking the Unofficial Rules of Salad gets your kid to eat their fruits and veggies without making you a short order cook, go for it! (Who is anyone to judge?).
  • Got 2 or more kids with their own opinions? Skip the big bowl salad and let each create their own one-of-a-kind mix-and-match portion. Simply lay out the rainbow spread and invite them to scoop their selections into their bowls.
  • Make ahead easy salad bar-style meals. One sturdy Nantes carrot makes enough spiralized carrots for several salads. And sprouts scale up simply. Save time with some easy healthy meal prep and stretch this salad into a few speedy weeknight meals. Wash, slice, and prepare your fruits and veggies and store them in containers. Then lay them out salad bar-style so you and your kids can go on a different Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad adventure each night! (Most fruit and veggie ingredients will keep 5 – 7 days in the fridge. Dress any fruits that tend to brown (apples, peaches, pears) with a little lemon juice to keep them bright after slicing).
  • Take it to-go for workday lunch or pretty, portable picnic. To turn this recipe into a mason jar salad (and pack a couple days’ lunches in one go!), the trick is all in the layers. Pour the dressing on the bottom of the jar, then layer your rainbow of ingredients with the croutons on top. Although it’s tempting, don’t try to stuff as much into your jar as possible. Leave an inch or two of space at the top before you screw on the lid—that way when you shake your salad your ingredients and dressing will have room to mix and mingle.
  • Want Mix-and-Match Sprouted Rainbow Salad tonight but didn’t have time for DIY sprouts? That’s okay! Store-bought sprouts are a simple swap. If your produce section has them, we recommend a blend like EatMore Sprouts & Greens’ mixed bean sprouts (their mix includes sprouted red and green lentils, green peas, chickpeas, and adzuki beans—all the sprouts we listed above!—but use whatever is available to you locally).
  • The perfect ratio of acid to oil in simple vinaigrette-style salad dressings is very much a matter of personal taste. Because these two dressings are fruit-forward—and intended for salad ingredients on the sweeter, kid-friendly side, we’ve used a roughly 1-to-1 ratio, which would be on the zingier side if you were using an assertive vinegar like apple cider, malt, or balsamic. Adjust your ratio of acid to oil based on the rainbow of ingredients you’ve chosen for your salad and the diners at your table.
  • When it comes to citrus, supremes are just a fancy way of saying “segments cut from between the tough/bitter membranes” (usually of large navel oranges or grapefruit). To make them, cut the top and bottom off your orange. Slice the peel and white pith away from the orange, then cut between the white membranes to free the juicy segments. (Do this over a bowl to catch the juice as you cut!) After you’ve removed all the segments, give what’s left a good squeeze over the bowl so you don’t waste a drop of delicious juice! Add it to your dressing (or pour a tiny glass for your little one).

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