With holidays such as National Ice Cream Day, National BBQ day and Pizza Week, we’re so excited to celebrate a holiday that promotes healthy eating, National Salad Week! Held on the last week of July, this awareness week encourages Americans to put down those hamburgers and hot dogs and eat a nutritious salad instead. While many people think of salad as a small side dish you get with a main entree, or a tasteless option for healthy eating, salads can be just as delicious as any other food staples. They can be sweet, hearty, light, etc., depending on the ingredients you make them with. It’s also a great way to use those vegetables you’ve been growing with our PlantCatalyst® this summer! In this article, we will provide tips to make the most appetizing salads for National Salad Week.
Keep it Fresh – One of the most common complaints about salad is that people who buy prepackaged salads in stores see them wilt after a few days. Since salad ingredients are usually products that are “alive” (in comparison to foods like cookies and chips), they go bad quickly if they are not consumed. However, there are surefire ways to prevent this. The first is to plant and harvest your own greens for salads. Although you may have no gardening experience, greens such as kale and chard are very easy to grow in your backyard, balcony, or small patio, especially using our PlantCatalyst®. There are also plenty of ways to ease yourself into gardening, one of which is to read our blogs that have advice for people of all experience levels, beginner through advanced. Research has shown that PC is especially effective with greens so you’ll definitely want to add it to your regimin. All you need to do is purchase seeds or a starter plant, and water regularly. They don’t require much upkeep, but offer the benefit of allowing you to cut off as much as you need to eat, while leaving the rest to grow.
Another method to keep salad leaves from turning brown and soggy is to line food containers with paper towels on both sides and close tightly. The trick to this is that the paper towels absorb excess moisture that would otherwise wilt the leaves. This can protect the greens for about a week or more.
Buy Organic – Although salads are very healthy, it is advisable to purchase ingredients that are organic, if possible. Some are made from genetically modified organisms (GMO); which is “the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant,” according to Seeds of Deception. Basically, the seeds of certain foods, such as conventional tomatoes and corn, are altered to produce a more pest-resistance crop. While there is no official consensus on the safety of GMOs to our health, many health nutritionists and doctors caution against consuming them. In additional to GMO, many greens and fruits are sprayed with pesticides that contain harmful toxins. To avoid this, simply purchase organic.
Buy Ingredients that are in Season – Another factor to consider to promote the health benefits of salads is to purchase ingredients that are in season in the location where you reside. For example, make fruit salads in the summer using berries, tomatoes and watermelon. In the winter months, use apples to give your salad a kick. Foods that are out of season are usually left over from previous months, or are shipped from other parts of the world. The time that it takes for them to get to the grocery store depletes nutrients that are abundant in fresh fruit and vegetables.
Minimize the Dressing – A good dressing can make or break the salad; however, remember that most store-bought dressings contain tons of calories, sugar and fat. To avoid this, you can easily make your own salad dressings at home. A great and easy solution is to combine a few tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Also, remember not to add the dressing until right before you eat, and only add it to the portion on your plate, as dressing will make any left over salad age much faster than storing it without it.
Delicious Salad Recipes
Tomato-Watermelon Salad – Washingtonian provides this delectable summer salad recipe.
- 1 pound chilled watermelon, cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ pound tomato, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed pistachios
- 1 tablespoon crumbled feta
- 4 mint leaves, thinly sliced
- Sea salt to taste
- Combine watermelon and tomato in a bowl. Season with sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil and stir gently. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
- Garnish with pistachios, mint, and feta. Add more salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Winter Fruit Salad – Allrecipes shares this savory winter salad.
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons diced onion
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- 4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 apple – peeled, cored and diced
- 1 pears – peeled, cored and diced
- In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running add oil in a slow steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds and process just a few seconds more to mix.
- In a large serving bowl combine the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, cubed apple and cubed pear. Toss to mix then pour dressing over salad just before serving and toss to coat.