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healthy side dish

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Rainbow Broccoli Salad

March 24, 2021

All of the colors of the rainbow in this healthier choice broccoli salad with less sugar, no dairy, and lots of fun, flavorful veggies kids will love!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad
Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Glimpses of warmer weather

Michigan likes to do this thing in the spring, where it plays around with 60 degrees one day, and back down to 30 degrees the next day. But my goodness, has spring ever been nice to us this year so far! Lake Michigan is thawed out, our toes are in the sand, and we are ready for warmer weather sides, like fresh spring and summer salads!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

A better choice broccoli salad…that still tastes amazing!

I’ve been a sucker for a creamy broccoli salad even as a kid. Most broccoli salads are loaded with cheese, bacon, loads of dairy, and sugar…a lot of sugar. Usually anywhere from a quarter to half cup of white sugar is in the typical broccoli salad recipe. What’s not to love about that, right?! I knew when my oldest got to the age where she could manage salads and raw veggies to eat that I had to figure out a better way to make one of my favorite salads with way less sugar. And not that there is anything wrong with cheese, bacon, and dairy, but there is something wrong with the picture when the star of the show in a salad is anything but the veggies. I wanted to teach my girls that salads and veggies can taste amazing without being covered up by sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Tips for making raw salads like broccoli salad kid friendly

Be sure to pay attention to the Notes section in the recipe card of this post. There are tips and tricks mentioned that will make salads like this easier for little kids to eat, and your older kids will be more likely to accept this new food keeping some things in mind:

  • When chopping the broccoli and cabbage, remember that if you have real little ones, taking the time to finely chop the veg will really help with their ease of being able to spoon the salad and manage chewing it in their small mouths! As they get a little older, you can leave the pieces bigger.
  • If your kids are funny about the pungency of onion pieces, sub the finely chopped onion for 1-2 tsp of onion powder. My kids love the flavor of sweet onions raw when they are cut up small, but I know that is not always the case. If you have littles, don’t shy away from at least trying. This is how my girls’ palates were formed young! Mince them up and try it!
  • Change up the veggies! Beets and tomatoes swap well for the red. I love using roasted butternut squash for the orange, and did this often when the girls were very little – the sweetness is amazing for little ones and the soft squash is so easy to chew. You can use green cabbage too! Add a little bite of pretty fruit to the bowl if you think the kids will like that. My girls typically complain the salad is too sweet when I do this, but yours might like it! My favorite is pineapple or apple, but raisins and blueberries work nicely too.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Dressing

One bowl side dishes are totally my jam. The dressing consists of 4 simple ingredients that get whisked up right in the bowl that you will serve the salad in. Less dishes, and less prep time! The creamy base is lightly sweetened with a spoonful of raw honey instead of white sugar, and it is plenty sweet. Keeping the vinegar amount lower helps with not needing to add as much sweetener as well. I prefer more of a bite to my broccoli salad, so I tend to add a splash of vinegar to my bowl. You can always add some raw shreds of apple or pineapple to the salad if the kids are already used to a sweet broccoli salad. Using fruit is a much better choice than adding more sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Veggies

I think you’ll find that chopping the veggies really small is worth the time that it takes. The kids will be able to spoon it easier, and your little ones will chew smaller raw veggie pieces easier this. Chop the veggies up and toss them with the simple dressing and the salad is ready to eat!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Yogurt and Mayonnaise Options

There are so many ways to make the creamy base for the dressing suit your dietary needs. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, plain yogurt and your favorite healthy oil based mayo will do the trick. If you are dairy free, you can swap the regular yogurt for full fat coconut yogurt, or just use all mayo and thin it out with a little splash non-dairy milk like coconut milk or a nut milk. Our favorite store bought mayo using healthy fats is Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo that we get for a great price at Costco. There are so many avocado oil mayonnaise choices for great prices now though, even if you don’t have access to Costco. If you are egg free, store bought mayo can be super tough. But I have a solution! There are 2 egg free mayo options on the blog. This Simple Egg Free Mayonnaise is dairy based if you can have that. And this Paleo Mayo is dairy and egg free.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

More than just a dinner side!

Meal prep this Rainbow Broccoli Salad on Sunday, and you can use it for your a lunchbox veggie side for the kids, and also for your lunches. This kind of preparing helps keep kitchen food prep time at a reasonable amount for busy families. Broccoli salad packs fantastic in lunchboxes, and is such a great change up from regular veggie sticks. To pack Rainbow Broccoli Salad in a lunchbox, I would suggest a leakproof container, or something that seals the sides a bit. For my youngest’s Rover Planetbox shown below (she is 7), we use the little silicone cups that come with the Planetboxes that seal up to the sides. The salad is not drippy, but just in case a little condensation is there, it will prevent little drips. My older girls (almost 12 and 10) have the larger, Launch Planetbox, and they use the bigger Rounds bowl with a lid that the Planetboxes come with for their salads since they are bigger. When packing for little kids, remember the veggies don’t need to be the star of the show for a long school day and a short lunch period. I save bigger veggie portions for her breakfast and/or dinners. Time is of the essence when at school, so I want her filling up on protein and fat packed bites of food. My older girls can eat a bit quicker so they pack bigger salads.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

  • ½ cup full fat yogurt or coconut yogurt
  • 1/3 cup avocado mayonnaise see Notes for homemade mayo options
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • ½ small onion finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper diced
  • 1 large carrot peeled and shredded
  • 1 head of broccoli florets chopped to bite sized (see Notes)
  • ½ head of a small purple cabbage sliced into thin, short strips (see Notes)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste if needed

Instructions

  • Whisk the yogurt, mayo, vinegar, and honey in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  • Toss the veggies with the dressing in the mixing bowl, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve the salad right away or hours later – as the flavors marry, the salad gets even better!
  • Store your Rainbow Broccoli Salad in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • If you are egg and dairy free, try my Paleo mayo! Or if you are egg free but can have dairy, you can try my egg free, dairy based mayo. Any clean, crisp vinegar will work for the dressing.
  • If your kids are funny about the pungency of onion pieces, sub the finely chopped onion for 1-2 tsp of onion powder. My kids love the flavor of sweet onions raw, but I know that is not always the case. If you have littles, don’t shy away from at least trying. This is how my girls’ palates were formed young! Mince them up and try it!
  • Try multiple colors of bell peppers to boost the color even more! When chopping the broccoli and cabbage, remember that if you have real little ones, taking the time to finely chop the veg will really help with their ease of being able to spoon the salad and manage chewing it in their small mouths! As they get a little older, you can leave the pieces bigger.
  • Change up the veggies! Beets and tomatoes swap well for the red. I love using roasted butternut squash for the orange, and did this often when the girls were very little – the sweetness is amazing for little ones and the soft squash is so easy to chew. You can use green cabbage too!
  • Add a little bite of pretty fruit to the bowl if you think the kids will like that. My girls typically complain the salad is too sweet when I do this, but yours might like it! My favorite is pineapple or apple, but raisins and blueberries work nicely too.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

More real food recipes you might like ::

Dinner Ideas Feeding Babies Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

October 26, 2020

Veggie vitamins need healthy fat to absorb, so we might as well make them taste amazing with kid approved creamed vegetables using any veggie!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Back to the basics

Last week, I happened to Instagram a quick veggie side dish that has been one of my go-to, “clear out the veggie bin at the end of the week” side dishes since my crew was very little. I was pretty blown away by the interest in the recipe specifics, but I can’t say super surprised, because it is one of the things that I adore the most about this RGN community. The following here is one of actual, real, everyday moms trying to do this real food thing with normal mom schedules and budgets…and this is as real life as it gets my friends!

A busy momma’s best friend!

This easy veggie side dish is going to become a regular on your dinner rotation – I happen to know because it most definitely was when my babies were very little, and still as as my girls have grown. An auto-pilot, nutrient-loaded way to get vegetables into my growing girls that they willingly (happily even!) inhaled each and every time when they were tiny, and ask for a lot as older kids! In right around 10 minutes, this kid approved veggie side can go alongside everything from a Sunday roasted chicken or beef roast, to a weekday pan seared fish.

One of my girls as a toddler gobbling creamy veggies!

For nutrient absorption, fat is where it’s at!

Dear momma, I hope you’ve hear the news by now that healthy fats are not the enemy. If you are anywhere near my age (I’ll be 41 next week!), I’m willing to bet that you grew up with a plethora of low fat food items in the pantry, and heaven forbid there ever be a stick of butter in the house. No, we grew up with a tub of rancid margarine in the fridge, and were told to stay as “low fat” as possible to be healthy. Thankfully the we have learned more about real, healthy fats, and their importance in our bodies. For hormones, for brain function…and for nutrient absorption! Fat soluble vitamins in many fresh foods from vegetables to pastured animal products need fat to even get into the tissues of our body. The very word “soluble,” meaning “able to be dissolved” should clue us in on how these fat soluble vitamins should be consumed. I love this article from my friend Jenny at Nourished Kitchen explaining the role that fat takes when eating fresh food.

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
Go on and butter up those veggies, dear momma! They help the vitamins in those veggies absorb and make them taste great for kids! Missing my babies at this age!

Ok, I get it! Fat is good to consume with veggies! Now how do we make the creamy veggies?!

I’m so glad you asked! One of the reasons I have never posted this recipe is because I kinda thought it might be too simplistic. The reality is, however, that these simple dishes happen more often in my house than fancy baking, fun treats, or elaborate dinners. This is the everyday grind, and I am committed to helping the moms of this generation learn how to cook real food everyday – not just every once and a while!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Let’s talk about what veggies to use!

The total amount of veggies including the onion is about 6-8 cups chopped. The whole point of this kind of skillet side is to use what you have, so change up the veg to what is in season in your veggie bin, and what you have leftover that needs to be used up at the end of the week. Add some frozen corn if you can have grains to add an extra pop of color! You can swap the carrot for sweet potato or bell peppers. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, or asparagus swap well for broccoli. And zucchini swaps great for the green beans. Chopped spinach always wilts in at the end very well. Just remember 6-8 cups totally veggies – the cooking of the veg in the fat will bring out any veggies natural sweetness and make them super kid friendly in taste 😊

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

The cooking method

The key to making these veggies palatable to children lies in the cook method and the fat. Let the veggies get super soft and sweet, cooking in that fat for a good 5-10 minutes before making the cream sauce. You will be so glad you did. This method is the same that I use for the base of just about every veggie soup on the blog, and many dinners as well. It helps the veggie’s natural sugars shine and kids really love them!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Budget friendly

Because if we are going to do this real food thing, there are some things that are going to be spendy, such as buying quality meat and eggs. In order to balance that out in my budget, we pile high the budget friendly veg. Cabbage, green beans, carrots, spinach – we’re talking high nutrients with very little cost. The veggie fiber is priceless, and we already talked about how that little bit of fat swirled in helps all of the nutrients absorb. That is a big time budget win!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Serving suggestions

I used this creamed veggie skillet as a side to everything from a big Sunday dinner to an easy weeknight meal. Here are some ideas:

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp healthy fat to cook in butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, etc
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • ¼ – ½ medium cabbage sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 head broccoli florets chopped
  • 2 handfuls frozen green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp flour of choice to thicken any GF flour blend or regular flour, rice flour, or if you are grain free, you could use tapioca starch, potato starch, or arrowroot
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular milk/cream if you can have dairy
  • ½ cup cheese of choice shredded (If you cannot have dairy and tolerate goat or sheep milk cheese, that would work great. Or if you can’t have that, try adding in about 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to add some cheesy flavor)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion, cabbage, carrot, and broccoli with a big pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine and cook over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes until the veggies are soft and sweet.
  • Stir in the frozen green beans and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour into the cooked veggies and stir to coat them well. Then, pour the coconut milk into the pan, and stir until the sauce thickens about a minute or 2. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheese. Salt and pepper the veggies to your taste.

Notes

The total amount of veggies including the onion is about 6-8 cups chopped. The whole point of this kind of skillet side is to use what you have, so change up the veg to what is in season in your veggie bin, and what you have leftover that needs to be used up at the end of the week! Add some frozen corn if you can have grains to add an extra pop of color! You can swap the carrot for sweet potato or bell peppers. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, or asparagus swap well for broccoli. And zucchini swaps great for the green beans. Chopped spinach always wilts in at the end very well. Just remember 6-8 cups totally veggies – the cooking of the veg in the fat will bring out any veggies natural sweetness and make them super kid friendly in taste 😊
How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

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