Here’s a video from Zane that explains Salad Lab:


This past week we had a very successful summer cooking camp with kids ages 7-12. Every day featured one or two summer fruits and veggies. One of the highlights was our “Greens Day” when we explored the fun of eating greens. When it comes to eating, kids tend to dislike all things green. On our Greens Day we featured green leafy veggies in two fun ways, inspiring the kids to try and enjoy them. First, we make Kale chips with multiple flavorings such as BBQ, cheesy (made with nutritional yeast), and our new flavored “Kale-itos” (recipe coming soon!). The kids couldn’t get enough of these “chippy,” crispy greens. No matter how many camps I teach, I’m always surprised at how fast the kale chips are devoured!

We then stirred up more interest and excitement with our “Salad Lab.” Similar to a science lab, the kids were provided an opportunity to exercise their creative juices by concocting a unique salad dressing, custom made to their own tastes.  First, the magic formula:


Salad Lab


We discussed how oil and vinegar separate, but if you add emulsifier and shake, you’ve got dressing! We encouraged kids to try an equal amount of healthy fat and acid and then taste and adjust to their preferences. Kids could use herbs like mint and oregano from our garden to give that special zing to their dressing.

We paired kids up, let them plan their own dressing, and then access all the choices to create a unique formula. For the acid we allowed them to try a selection of balsamic vinegars from Fredericksburg’s own downtown shop, Taste Oil Vinegar Spice. They chose from a variety of interesting flavored vinegars including coconut, raspberry, peach and strawberry balsamic (Yum!). The kids were so excited to try their own custom dressing on top of a salad of mixed greens.


Campers taste and adjust their dressing

What I love about Salad Lab is that it can really open kids up to eating leafy greens. Dressing greens with custom flavors that kids combine on their own means they are more likely to enjoy and love salad. Also, kids can experiment with flavors and learn to create their own recipes. A homemade dressing also skips all the typical artificial additives (ex: MSG, food dyes, trans-fats) and preservatives found in most store-bought dressings.


Choosing some flavorings to emulsify the dressing


Our Salad Lab volunteers assist the campers

Our campers really enjoyed salad lab this year, and I hope they continue to experiment at home with new dressings and continue to enjoy their greens!


At the end of Salad Lab parents try the unique dressing created by the young chefs

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