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There was a time in the history of salad when iceberg reigned king of the lettuces. Much to the salad lovers relief, bland iceberg lettuce abdicated its throne to more veritable heads of green vegetation. Commandeering the produce shelves, assorted varieties of lettuces, kale, and micro-greens offer robust taste, stunning colors, and unique textures. Creating a flavorful and nutrient-dense salad requires more than filling your bowl with the leafy green stuff. Without exercising a little culinary creativity, salad monotony will set in as it did during the iceberg era. Boost your salad bowl with superior salad recipes every day of the week.
Rekindle Your Love for Salad
If you stick with the typical salads like Caesar salad, Cobb, or garden salad, your attraction to leafy greens will wither and die from boredom. Then, your eyes will wander longingly down the processed food aisles. Resist the temptation of turning your back on real food by arming yourself with a variety of tantalizing salad recipes. Most restaurants will not woo you with their salad menu. In fast food restaurants and restaurant chains, salads are a miniature version of the unhealthy menu options. Most chefs flex their culinary muscle in the presentation and creation of entrees which leaves salad tossed to the side.
Unless you are hosting a Mad Men themed party including retro food, iceberg lettuce should stay out of your kitchen. Salads have come a long way since the high-heeled, apron-swathed June Cleaver and Donna Reed filled their Corell dinnerware bowls with salads encased with gelatin. One of the best culinary inspirations from the baby boomer generation is the beloved Julia Child who said,“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
For the novice in the kitchen, salads are very forgiving. You don’t have to be a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu to pull off a mixture that will exhilarate your taste buds. Novelist and real food devotee Barbara Kingsolver discerns, “For a dedicated non-cook, the first step is likely the hardest: convincing oneself it’s worth the trouble in terms of health and household economy...Cooking is the great divide between good eating and bad.”
Clean Up Your Salad
We are a fast food nation; in fact, many of our salads are mechanized foods. Pre-packaged salad kits swoon the busy mom because they remove any dinnertime hassle: rip, release, and pour into a bowl. It’s important to know that manufacturers of bagged conventional salad mixes wash the lettuces with a chlorine and salt solution.
Lettuces and greens that are grown locally and organically provide a healthier base for your salad. Bagged greens may clock more miles in transit to your supermarket than you travel to visit family at Christmas. The nutrients dissipate in transit.
While it is generally regarded that organic produce is safer and healthier, it is not always essential that you purchase organic produce. By exercising produce buying savvy, you can reduce and minimize exposure to synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. As a farmer, I know that not every grower chooses to endure the rigorous organic certifications or government regulations. Even though certain farmers do not exhibit an organic certification label on their produce and crops, they may still maintain sustainable and organic farming practices.
The best way to guarantee clean produce is to know your farmer or make every effort to trace the origin of your food.
Haute Couture Dressing
Supermarkets and fast food chains provide salads in nifty containers with pre-measured dressing. Often, the packets of salad dressings contain ingredients made with unhealthy oils, artificial colors, sugar, and preservatives. Step out of nutrition denial and end your relationship with the unhealthy, store-bought dressing. Learning to let go of the toxic dressing may be difficult, but your body deserves better.
Free from unclean versions of salad dressings, now, douse your salad with high-quality olive oil and vinegar. Olive oil can boost the nutrition of your salad, but not if the oil you use is inferior in quality and fraudulent. I function on a food budget, but I will splurge on high quality, unadulterated olive oil. In our budget system, I give myself a small allowance (really small) for pocket money. There have been occasions when I add my allowance to our food budget so that I can purchase the best olive oil our budget can buy. It makes that much difference in the taste.
Homemade salad dressings allow you to leave out refined sugar and use plant-based sweeteners. To make shopping for healthy premium products easier, consider a membership to Thrive Market. Additionally, the mission behind Thrive is to make healthy living accessible and affordable for everyone. The membership allows you to purchase high-quality pre-made salad dressings like Primal Kitchen Dressing with Avocado Oil at wholesale prices.
Accessorize Your Salad Recipes
Imagine this, you’ve designed a stellar salad rich with nutrients and active compounds, and it’s a beautiful work of culinary creativity. Don’t wreck a good thing by splattering your nourishing food with sugar-coated nuts and sugar-packed dried fruit. You wouldn’t consider ruining a great outfit by wearing hideous accessories, so avoid adding junk food to your otherwise real food salad recipe.
Final Notes on Designing Your Salad
The food industry tries to accommodate vegetarians, flexitarians, herbivores, or however you classify your consumption of plants. The dazzling diversity of vegetables readily available to most Americans makes eating colorful meals like salad easy. These days, take your salad beyond the basic garden style. You can outfit a bowl with an ensemble of vegetables that provide a chromatic display of color and an abundance of textures.
We need to slow down long enough to begin to appreciate and savor our food. Rather than hurriedly buying food at the same place you fuel your mini-van, try creating a habit of eating meals at the kitchen table. Use the grid with salad recipes to make vegetables the centerpiece of meals throughout the week.