Main Nutritious Intent Website

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Salad Season: Savoring Summer All Year Long

There are as many salad recipes, techniques and ideas out there as people who eat them.  The good news about this is that salads rarely require a set recipe - just use what you've got on hand, dress it, and voila!  Instant deliciousness.  Instead of giving you more rigid recipes (you can type salad into the search bar of my blog to find some specific recipes), I'd rather give a few of my favorite salad technique tips and then you can apply those that strike your fancy.  Keep in mind that we derive more nutrition from food that appeals to us -- visually as well as through the other senses.  Salads are a great way to apply this nugget of nutritional information.  Salads are naturally colorful - and by the way they are prepared or presented, they can add even more enticement. 

Fruit Salads:

  • Follow the seasonal fruit.  It will always be a tastier if you use what is in season. 
  • Dress less.  Fruits are so sweet and flavorful, that rarely do they need any dressing at all.  If you really think that your salad needs some sauciness - drizzle with a little honey and citrus juice, or just toss with a spoonful of reduced-sugar jam.  
  • Make the delivery fun.  Serve fruit in waffle cones, design the fruit plate to fit the occasion (flag, map, cantaloupe handcart, or baby carriage watermelon).  The internet is rife with ideas and tutorials - it truly is easier than you think.  Just let your creativity run wild!

  • Cross the barrier between sweet and savory.  Add fruits to your savory salads (tossed salads with vinaigrettes, chicken salads etc.).  Or if you are feeling daring - toss your seasonally sweet fruits with a little balsamic, kosher salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. 

Spinach Chicken Salad with cottage cheese poppy seed dressing and pomegranate (can use craisins or oranges)


Vegetable Salads:  

Garbanzo Panzanella Stuffed Peppers
  • Mix fruits and veggies.  Blackberries with mixed greens, grapefruit and orange sections in a spinach salad, grilled nectarines on a bed of spring greens and topped with some crumbled feta cheese. . . you get the idea.
  • Serve creatively.  Veggies in shot glasses, tossed salad in a margarita glass, or simply served in an edible cheese bowl or bell pepper half, all entice us to dig in and enjoy our veggies!
    Spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes and grilled peppers in a parmesan bowl with balsamic dressing on the side
  • Think beyond croutons.  Instead of always using croutons to add texture to the salad, try topping with nuts or seeds. Add in some whole grains - cooked barley, or quinoa makes a great addition to a traditional caprese salad.
    Caprese topped with quinoa
  • Don't just chop.  Pull out that mandolin or just your vegetable peeler.  I love shaving my vegetables into ribbons for my salads.  Carrots, zucchini, asparagus and even broccoli stems work great for that! Another way I love to prep my veggies is to grill or sear some before adding to a salad, giving some great smoky flavor. 
    Broccoli Carpaccio Salad - recipe on my blog
  • Dress lightly.  Don't overshadow the flavor of the veggies by the dressing.  Light vinaigrettes (recipes abound) are a healthy alternatives to heavier, bottled dressings.  Vinegar and olive oil have lots of nutritional benefits and with just a few seasonings - and even less time, you've got a tasty dressing.  If you need a creamy dressing - use non-fat yogurt as your base, or just toss with a little cottage cheese.  
  • Make salad your main dish.  Add a some perlini mozzarella and hard boiled egg for a hearty, main-dish salad.  Add some whole grain and a couple different beans to a salad and you've got a whole meal!
    "Big Salad" night = mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes

With a little experimentation and some creativity - you can enjoy salads year-round without the monotony of the same old tossed salad with ranch.  So go invent some new family favorites!

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