M.Y.O. (isn't everything cooler with an acronym?)

Last weekend I spent a delightful weekend in New York City (NYC) with friends, without kids. NYC will always be a part of me. I moved there on my 23rd birthday and left a decade later with two kids and a husband (not in that order). I grew up, or at least learned how to be a grownup in New York.

Citibikes in NYC are SO fun!

Citibikes in NYC are SO fun!

One thing that I miss about living in NYC is the food. Aside from the cultural food, fine dining and neighborhood dives, I really miss a good chopped salad. I miss the neighborhood places where you pick your ingredients, and they stir and chop. Why hasn't that made it to every suburb?  

Four years ago, I made veggie pizzas with Moe's preschool class. I watched incredulously as the children piled their individual pizzas with roasted kale, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, etc., and then gobbled them up. "M.Y.O.", or "Make Your Own" was born. We have several Make Your Own dinners (affectionately referred to as MYO). Miff and Moe beg for MYO constantly, and eat more veggies on MYO nights than any others. It is a winner dinner! With my new garden, future MYO salad nights hopefully will come from the harvest!


I serve all dinners all family style, and have for five years. But MYO nights allow children another level of control and pride of creation. Miff, my artist, and Moe, my engineer, take great pride in their creations. Allowing children to serve themselves without pressure and try vegetables and other foods on their own terms is critical to building competent eaters. It is a great opportunity for family togetherness and camaraderie, and for children to learn how to eat from watching parents. The whole point is not to pressure, but let children explore and create. Check out what our four different salads looked like (photo below the recipe). MYO nights take extra chopping for me, so I usually plan them for a night when I know I'll have time. Subscribe to the blog for more MYO dinners we love in coming weeks, but in the meantime, try our favorite MYO Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad.

MYO Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, orange, chopped in half

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, red, chopped in half

4 Persian cucumbers, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

1 can corn

1 can hearts of palm, sliced

1 1/2 avocado, chopped

1 large handful snap peas, chopped

2 hardboiled eggs, chopped

4-6 pieces of bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

4-6 cups baby spinach

3-4 chicken breasts, baked and shredded*

Chop all vegetables and serve in bowls or on a platter as shown. Cook bacon on a covered cookie sheet (with tin foil) at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cooked through (while chopping vegetables). Serve with whole grain bread and your favorite dressing (I use an Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing). 

* As a time saver this time, I sometimes use store bought rotisserie chicken and shred it.

Four family members' MYO creations!

Four family members' MYO creations!