A salad is not a meal.

I think salad is a superfood. Lettuce in particular. It’s carb-free, it’s easy to prepare, it’s healthy and did I mention that it’s easy to prepare? I love salad mainly because it means I’m in and out of the kitchen in under five minutes at lunchtime.

Nobody shares my love of salads. Nimitz, the brave tiger that he is, will steal broccoli from a dinner plate, but he won’t come near a bowl of salad. Chris only eats lettuce if it’s inside a cheeseburger and Cass, Cass thinks lettuce is the perfect food for a rabbit or a giraffe. Not a human being. Definitely not.

I’ve been very inventive, envisioning my toddler being the one that munches on a lovely green salad when others shun vegetables. She’s taken to vegetable soup, vegan curries, grilled fish, prawns, calamari, passion fruit, figs, which I’d consider quite a grown-up palate, but olives, asparagus and lettuce remain firmly on the I-will-never-eat-that-list. Until this week.

We had pittas for dinner. Organic, wholemeal pittas, one of her favourite foods. I made a selection of fillings – cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, cucumber, peppers and left everyone to choose whatever they’d like. I started with the lettuce.

‘Why do you like lettuce? What does it add to your pitta?’, she asked me.
I thought about it. ‘It doesn’t add flavour – the cheese totally overwhelms the taste of lettuce. I guess it adds crunch, a bit of texture. That’s why I like it.’
‘I’d like some crunch in my pitta,’ she said, ‘I’ll try some of that.’ And the lettuce was stuffed into the pitta. I grinned. It was hard not to stand up and dance. She laughed, ‘I know you’ll be very pleased if I enjoy this, but I if I don’t like it, I won’t eat it.’

I nodded gravely. That’s our rule. Try something new, but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat more than one bite. It takes at least a dozen single bites over many meals for a new food to move from yuk to neutral on the taste scale. It takes another round of similar proportion to nudge it from neutral to a mild positive. Some foods are just hard work to like. Healthy foods usually.

Lettuce in wicker basket

She stuffed the pitta with a little bit of everything then took a bite. Chewed and as she picked up her water glass and swirled it I could see her brain working. Weighing the experience and deciding where it’ll land on the scale of Like.

‘I like that. It does at some crunch without the yukky lettuce taste. Lettuce is bitter, that’s why I don’t like it, but I love this. It’s really good.’


Best new thing this week – shredded lettuce in a veggie pitta.