Thursday, May 12, 2011

May is National Salad Month!

May is National Salad Month! During this month, take advantage of the bounty of fruits and vegetables that are now in season across the country. Try to move past your traditional garden salad and experiment with new salad recipes and try vegetables you have never eaten before. Remember, while a green salad is usually the most nutritious, you can make healthy and unique versions of tuna salads (try oil & balsamic instead of mayo), potato salads (mix it up with sweet potatoes and light mayonnaise!), bean salads (all beans are super healthy!), and fruit salads (add in exotic fruits!). Here are some of my tips for sprucing up your traditional green salad:

Salad greens: use spinach, endive, or mixed-greens over dull and nutrient-void iceburg
Proteins: Add canned salmon (Costco has an excellent bone-free version, Kirkland brand), fresh cooked fish, hard boiled egg/egg whites, chickpeas, edamame, tuna, grilled chicken, tempeh, or cottage cheese
Add-ins: Try adding slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, and/or a high-fiber cereal for extra crunch. Add avocado slices, beans and legumes, and a few pieces of dried fruit to make your salads more flavorful and exciting.
Unique veggie to try: Throw in some jicama (pronounced hick-a-ma)- it is a white vegetable available at Whole Foods and Gentiles Market-  it is very low-calorie, but high in Vitamin C and Potassium, and it adds a nice crunch!
Dressings: I always recommend balsamic & vinegar as the best choice for a dressing. However, you can add some pizzazz by making a Mexican salad with light sour cream & salsa, or try Mango salsa as a dressing on salads with chicken or fish.

Here are some recipes to get you started on your salad kick!

Tantatlizing Salad Recipes:

Spinach, fruit & chicken
2 cups raw spinach
1 tbsp. dried cranberries
1 tbsp. dried apricots, chopped
2 oz. roasted white meat chicken, sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp. roasted pecans, chopped
2 tbsp. dressing (balsamic & vinegar, light raspberry, or whatever you'd like!)

Nutrition Info: (1 salad w/o dressing) 208 calories, 6.5 g fat, 24.48 g Carb (5 g fiber), 17 g protein

Healthy Tuna Salad
1 can chunk light tuna, drained of water
1 tablespoon no sugar added relish
1 tsp Smart Balance Light Mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup plain nonfat vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp chopped onion
1/2 celery stalk, chopped

Nutrition Info (1/2 recipe ~ 1/4 cup) 130 calories, 1.5 g fat, 4.5 g Carb (1 g fiber), 23 g protein

Curried Sweet Potato Salad
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into cubes
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 tbsp. Smart Balance light mayo
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp. onion, chopped
1/4 cup mango, diced

Put diced sweet potatoes into pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes until potatoes are soft, but not too mushy. Drain. Mix together all other ingredients, and once the potatoes have drained, add them to other ingredients. Mix together and chill for several hours before eating. Add salt to taste.

Nutrition Info, 4 servings (Per Serving) 130 calories, 3.5 g fat, 95 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate (3 g fiber), 3.5 g protein

Also, be sure to save yourself time by getting a salad spinner. Just put all dry salad ingredients in the spinner (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc), rinse with water, and then put in spinning contraption and spin! This is the easiest way to rinse and dry salad greens, and I definitely recommend that everyone has one in their kitchen! No more drying with paper towels or having soggy salads! Here's a link to an example of what a salad spinner looks like, but you can get them at TJ Maxx or any other store that sells homegoods! OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner

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