Spring is in the air! Grills are heating up, and outside activities are more popular. During the spring and summer months, cool refreshing salads are a mainstay. Here are some ways to keep your salads healthier and fun.
The foundation: A variety of fresh greens make a good foundation for tossed salads. Mix them up, add romaine, spinach, kale, turnip, collards, iceberg, or other fresh spring/summer greens. Be sure to clean them well, remove tough stalks, cores, and brown places. Chop or tear into bite size pieces.
Keep your toppings mostly on the healthy side. Choose more fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, zucchini and/or other summer squash. Fresh fruits, lean meats, and boiled eggs are also tasty additions. Try a spinach and strawberry salad, or how about a kale and mandarin orange salad. Either of these salads would pair well with a fruity vinaigrette salad dressing. If you are looking to make your salad as your meal add a protein source such as grilled chicken or salmon and enjoy with fresh bread. Watch or limit the amount of croutons, fried onions, chow mein noodles, bacon, cheese, nuts, sour cream, mayonnaise, dressings and other high fat toppings.
Salads aren’t just green. Mayonnaise based salads such as potato, macaroni, or coleslaw can be tasty but loaded with calories and fat. You may want to try the lower fat or fat free mayonnaises or try replacing part of the mayo with plain yogurt.
Fruit salads can be a natural sweet dessert. Be cautious of extras that can add fat and sugar. Some of these extras could be marshmallows, pudding, sugar, syrups, whipped cream, and nuts. Note: nuts are a healthy fat and some can fit nicely in your meal plan. However, overdoing the nuts in a salad can lead to an intake of excess calories and fat.
Remember that unless you are doing a knife and fork salad, tear or cut ingredients into bite sized pieces. We have all been in a situation where you spear a lettuce leaf that is two to three times what you can easily put in your mouth. Store lettuce heads unwashed and uncut. Store in the refrigerator with paper towels to collect excess moisture. This will help your lettuce last longer. Lettuce does and can wilt a little. Try reviving it by placing in ice water and spinning it dry. If you notice that your lettuce is brown, slimy, has an odor, or is too wilted, throw it out. Keep your foods in the right temperature zone. Keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot. Check this link out for keeping your foods safe: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/keep-food-safe-food-safety-basics/ct_index . The United States Department of Agriculture gives several tips for buying, storing, thawing, cooking, and serving foods.
Try visiting a local farmer’s market for the freshest home-grown fruits and vegetables, or consider growing some yourself. To me there is nothing like a fresh strawberry in spring, or a fresh tomato in summer.
Enjoy the fresh spring air, along with more fruits and vegetables! Please post some of your favorite salads, and ideas for upcoming blogs.
Mattison, Lindsay D.; 6 Ways to Avoid Soggy Lettuce; Taste of Home; https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/tips-tricks-keep-lettuce-fresh/ ; Accessed 4/15/2019
United States Department of Agriculture; Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics; https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/keep-food-safe-food-safety-basics/ct_index ; Accessed 4/15/2019