Another rainbow salad, you ask? Well, why not I say. The more bright and beautiful colours in my food, the happier I am. And this one, my friends, is a beauty. Chopped and not shredded like my other rainbow salad but just as delicious.
Lately my 5 year olds have been on a bit of a salad kick and they love this salad. My son does not like red cabbage so we usually sub in some more green beans or cucumber, but otherwise they both have been loving this on repeat. I never thought this day would come – I am super stoked.
What ingredients make up this rainbow salad?
It’s really up to you what you want to use but this is what we like, just because all the ingredients are super nutritious and look really gorgeous mixed together – like a true rainbow:
Red (purple) cabbage
Delicious and crunchy, this beautiful looking vegetable is also nutrient dense. Did you know that it belongs into the same family as kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli? Red cabbage contains beneficial plant compounds that have been linked to health benefits, such as stronger bones and a healthier heart, and is also thought to lower inflammation and protect against certain types of cancers. It contains a bunch of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C, K, B6 and A, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, as well as small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and zinc.
The humble green bean is actually very good for you – green beans are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin K and silicon (needed for healthy bones, skin, and hair) plus they are low in calories, fat and sugar – one cup of raw green beans has just 31 calories, virtually no fat, and only 3.6 g of sugar. Green beans are a low FODMAP food and can be enjoyed by many people who have chronic digestive issues.
I’ve only picked yellow as it fits nicely into the rainbow colour scheme but any colour capsicum is fine (obviously) – although as Nigella says, green capsicum is not ripe capsicum, so there’s that. Generally speaking, capsicums are an excellent source of vitamin A and C (green capsicum don’t contain as much). They are also a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin E, B6 and folate.
I like fruit in my salads. Watermelon is wonderful, as it lends gorgeous flavour, colour and juiciness to any salad, and its flavour, though delightful, is not overpowering so it pairs well with most veggies. Watermelon is also a surprisingly healthy fruit – it is low calorie, has a high water content and also delivers many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C.
I love to top this super colourful salad with a handful of cashews. Did you know that cashews are absolutely wonderful for your health? They are one of the lowest-fiber, highest carbohydrate nuts and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including Vitamins E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium, all of which are very important for a variety of bodily functions.
Source: Healthline, Almanac.com and Better Health Channel
And finally, the crowning glory, the dressing! I have mainly gone for salty (tamari sauce and fish sauce), sour (lime juice) and sweet (maple syrup) here – with very little spiciness from the garlic, and therefore this salad dressing is suitable for kids. I’ll admit that your kids might need to be a little adventurous as the tamari and fish sauce give the dressing a nice zing of flavour, but my kindergarteners love it. Also, no sugar is necessary – woot!
I have also added some olive oil to the dressing because research shows that adding healthy fats such as olive oil (and nuts, like cashews here) helps increase absorption of vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamins A, D, E, and K which are fat soluble. Plus it’s delicious!
This salad is super versatile
Of course, if you or your little one(s) don’t particularly like one of these ingredients, leave them out. On the other hand, feel free to put other fruit and veg in. We’ve had this salad with other ingredients such as baby spinach leaves, mango, cherry tomatoes, snap sugar peas, edamame, green and red capsicum, strawberries, cherries, apples, pears and cucumber – so you see, just put in whatever appeals or whatever you have in your fridge.
Chop all your veggies into smaller than bite sized pieces, especially if you’re sharing with children. That way, if the pieces are smaller, it’s also easier to put more than one piece of fruit or veg on your fork at the same time, therefore creating a unique taste sensation in your mouth every time you have a bite.
Rainbow salad with kid-friendly Thai dressing [refined sugar free]
- red cabbage (about 1/4 a small head)
- green beans (about 1-2 handfuls)
- yellow capsicum (about half a large one)
- watermelon (about 2 slices from a quarter, chopped)
- cashews (about two handfuls)
- 1.5 tbsp tamari or gluten free soy sauce
- squirt of garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove, crushed)
- scant 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil
- Chop all the salad ingredients into smaller than bite sized chunks. Separate into two bowls.
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid. With the lid tightly fastened, shake the dressing vigorously until combined.
- Pour half of salad dressing into each bowl. Serve!
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