Thursday, July 13, 2017

Healthy Rainbow Vegetable Salad with Turmeric Roasted Chickpeas

If you have children and are in need of some inspiration on getting them to love their veggies, then this kid-friendly recipe is for you. I'm visiting my family in Wisconsin now. My children love to play with my brother's four children who are all about the same ages as mine. Now, my children love their vegetables, but my brother's children are not the same. They are a little more hesitant to have a gigantic pile of raw vegetables fill their plates. My oldest niece is the most adventuresome when it comes to new vegetables. She always asks what I'm eating and wants to try it. The other day she tasted purple daikon radish for the first time and loved it, as well as sliced raw kohlrabi. So when I introduced her to this salad, she literally could not stop eating it. Even before dinner was served she was stealing the lettuce and vegetables off the platter!

Beautiful, bright colors excite children. Why do you think candy is dyed with the most brilliant colors? A platter of fruits and vegetables arranged in a beautiful way is pleasing to the eyes, and even before we eat, our eyes send messages to our brain to begin producing digestive juices in preparation for what is before us. If you make the vegetable presentation appetizing to your children, you might be more likely to naturally gain their acceptance in eating a plate of fresh vegetables. The key to children trying something new, and enjoying it, is patience and persistence (keep offering it)!

Choose their favorite rainbow-colored fruits and vegetables for the salad! For the red color, try diced red bell pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red radishes, or diced red apple. For the orange color, try chopped orange carrots, diced orange bell peppers, cubed roasted sweet potatoes, or cubed roasted winter squash. For yellow try, Turmeric-Roasted Chickpeas (recipe below), raw corn from the cob, yellow bell peppers, yellow carrots, sliced yellow zucchini, or grated yellow beets. For the green color there are so many options! Try chopped cucumber, blanched green beans, diced avocado, chopped celery, chopped raw broccoli, blanched frozen peas, diced green bell peppers, or thinly sliced green kale. For the blue/purple color try diced red onion, grated raw beets, fresh blueberries, diced purple bell peppers, or roasted purple potatoes. Let me know in the comment section below which vegetable combination you used and how your children liked it. :)

Healthy Rainbow Vegetable Salad for Kids

This salad is an attractive and delicious way to encourage children to love fresh vegetables. Even picky eaters can choose to take just part of the salad that contains their favorite veggies. The creamy, dairy-free dressing makes the salad quite addictive! Use your child’s favorite fresh veggies or fruits to create the rainbow for the salad or use my combination below. The dressing recipe here is nearly identical to the Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing recipe I posted a few years ago, with a few minor changes, so if you or your child has a sensitivity to nuts you can try this seed-based dressing.

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
2 diced red bell peppers
3 to 4 large carrots, chopped
2 cups turmeric roasted chickpeas (sea recipe below)
1 medium cucumber, chopped
½ red onion, diced

Turmeric Roasted Chickpeas:
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Cashew Butter Dressing:
¼ cup raw cashew butter
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ to 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
small handful fresh parsley

If you would like to add the Turmeric Roasted Chickpeas to your salad (for the yellow part of the rainbow) then you will want to start these first. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or metal baking pan with parchment paper. Rinse and drain 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (I use a fine mesh strainer under cool running water to do this).

Place chickpeas into pan and add oil, turmeric, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, and toss together. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until smaller in size and a little crispy on the outside. If you want to get them done faster you can turn the oven temp up to 375 or 400 degrees F, but you will need to watch them closely so they don't burn!

To make the salad, place the chopped romaine onto a large platter, then place the remaining vegetables on top of the lettuce in a rainbow pattern (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple).

To make the dressing, place everything into a blender except the black pepper and parsley, and blend on high until creamy. Add a few grinds of black pepper and a small handful of fresh parsley, and blend on low just to combine (so there are small pieces of parsley). If you blend the dressing too much you’ll get a light green color because the parsley will totally break down.

Pour dressing over salad and serve. If you want to toss it all together and serve it that way you can do that also.

Note: If you don't think your family can consume the entire salad in one evening then don't dress it before serving. Let each person serve themselves a plate of salad and then drizzle a desired amount of dressing over it. Store remaining, undressed salad covered in your refrigerator for up to 3 days (chickpeas are best left off of the salad if you plan to store it as they will get soggy). Dressing will last about a week in a covered glass jar in your refrigerator.

More Kid-Friendly Vegetable Recipes (all gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free):
Dairy-Free Creamed Kale
Strawberry Salad with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Creamy Summer Zucchini Soup

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. I've followed your blog since the beginning and use a bunch of your recipes as staples in our weekly rotations. However, my kids still are not as adventurous on the vegetable front. I serve them religiously in every way all the time, so they get some, but when I set a veggie platter on the table like that, the kids will eat all the garbanzo beans, all the dip (using a piece of celery as a spoon!), kale chips and maybe a cucumber. The "exotic" things like home grown radishes and carrots will sit untouched until a hungry adult passes through. I've tried dipping them in boiling water to soften them a bit, all to no avail. The same things happen with school lunches. The vegetable matter gets sent to school in artful ways and sent home in slightly worse for wear artful ways. I don't know what I've done to create this weird dynamic with vegetables, but it's not for lack of trying! Granted, they will plow down broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, bell peppers and most other vegetables that are cooked apart from other things. My middle daughter ate two servings of spinach this morning, so you never can tell what they'll be up for unless you keep trying, I guess!

  2. I love your website and the recipes that you share. It does take a lot of patience and persistence to teach healthy eating habits to our kids. I think you and Tom are an inspiration and especially for young families. Keep doing what your doing!

    So exciting that you were in Wisconsin to visit. Were you anywhere close to Appleton? I might have run into you and not even know. It's a small world....

  3. I love your website and the recipes. It does take offering those vegetables time and time again....much patience and persistence. I think you and Tom are such an inspiration especially to young families in the thick of busy days!! I take my hat off to you. Keep blazing the trail!!

    So exciting that you were in Wisconsin in July. Were you anywhere close to the Appleton area? I would have loved to bump into you at the local health food grocery store!

    Many Blessings!! Charlotte

  4. Made your creamy cashew dressing -- wonderful! Like tahini, but lighter. Btw, your website was recommended by the naturopath at the health clinic I go to here in Berkeley. I'm looking forwarding to trying more of your recipes. Thanks, Alissa!

  5. I made your delicious creamy cashew dressing -- like tahini, but lighter. I've never used cashew butter before. Your website was recommended by the naturopath that worked in the healthcare clinic I go to -- thought you'd like to know. Looking forward to trying more recipes.


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