One day last year our friend came over with a great big take-out tostada salad. From the second she took it out of the bag Kenya and Chloe were all over it like flies on...well, you know what. I was kind of surprised to see a four and two year-old get so excited about a salad but there they were, sitting on our friend's lap devouring her salad. I felt so bad they ate her lunch that I had to make her something else to eat!
It wasn't until I saw some beautiful whole grain tostada shells at the grocery last week that I thought about recreating this dish for them. A year (an eternity in kid time) had gone by since Kenya and Chloe first encountered my friend's tostada salad, so they were understandably hesitant when I placed these strange towers of lettuce, beans, chicken and guacamole in front of them. So I took two extra tostadas, put one on top of each salad and told the kids to smash them down so that the shell would break apart over everything.
From Kenya and Chloe's point of view, how awesome did I just make mealtime? I had just given my kids a get out of jail free card to channel all of their disregulated 5:30pm energy into making a delicious mess. They took one look at each other with sheer glee and disbelief before pressing down with both hands and crushing their tostadas all over their plates. They laughed the entire time and even figured out that they could use the tostada shards like edible utensils to scoop up and eat their salads.
Sometimes making food interactive and fun goes a long way towards encouraging kids to eat something you know they will love -- even if it does make a bit of a mess!