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Family Nutrition & Health

Build a Better Salad

Plenty of families rely on a salad to satisfy their vegetable needs. And plenty of teens think a chunk of iceberg and a cherry tomato topped with Ranch dressing is their health food dish of the day. Challenge yourself to building a better salad and improving the nutritional value of this common bowl by making just a few simple changes.

There’s cause and effect with every problem associated with boring salads. If you make just one change you’ll see an instant difference in your salad’s appeal.

1. Water at the bottom of the bowl.
Always start with completely dry greens. Wet greens repel the dressing. Wash all greens, even bagged mixes of greens, and spin them dry in a spinner. Don’t have a spinner? Wrap the greens in a clean dishtowel, gently roll the towel, then lay the greens out to dry for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Unwieldy chunks don’t fit on the fork.
Tear greens into small, bite-size pieces, and other ingredients into as small of sizes as possible.

3. Same old-same old.
Even simple salads don’t have to be simply lettuce. You can still keep things simple by shredding some carrot over the greens, thinly slicing some seeded cucumber, tossing in just a touch of cilantro, parsley, basil or mint.

4. Globs of dressing.
Take the time to put all your salad ingredients in a mixing bowl and thoroughly tossing it with dressing. You’ll find you use less dressing and have better dressing-to-veggie coverage. If your family likes a variety of dressings, give everyone their own mixing bowl filled with salad ingredients. It’s worth the trouble.

5. Dressing doldrums.
By making your own dressings, instead of buying bottled, you’re doing several great things for your health and your palate. First, you’re cutting out homogenizers, stabilizers and preservatives found in commercial dressings, and taking control of the amount of fat and sugar in your dressing for another. You’re also controlling the flavor, customizing it to your own likes. Dressings are easy to make and the internet is loaded with recipes (and we have some for you too).

6. Texture tedium.
Add crunch with slivered nuts, dried peas or apple slices.
Add smoothness with diced avocado, goat cheese or cottage cheese.

7. Flat flavor.
Add fruit for some sweetness, pickled vegetables for tartness, mushrooms for umami and mild fresh peppers (like poblano, shishito or padron) for zest.

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