Spring is here and the farmers markets are opening.  Soon you will be able to find great local produce. Here are some ideas for salads to enjoy this season. Including a variety of colors and textures is key to creating a satisfying spring or summer salad packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

  • Start with leafy greens. Leafy greens are one of the first crops to be available locally. Greens that are darker in color have more nutrients and antioxidants. Choose romaine, spinach, baby kale arugula or spring mix.
  • Pile on veggies and fruits. Raw, lightly steamed, or roasted vegetables and/or fresh fruit are excellent additions to any salad. Choose a variety of colors for the most health benefits. Try zucchini squash, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, or whatever is in season.
  • Add lean protein. Make your salad a main dish by adding chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, tofu, eggs, and/ or beans.
  • Add a sprinkling of cheese for added calcium, protein and flavor.
  • Add crunch. Topping your salad with nuts, seeds or croutons made from whole grains adds protein, heart healthy fats, and fiber.

Homemade salad dressings not only save money, but they can also add heart healthy fats to your diet. They also tend to be lower is salt and sugar than store bought varieties.

Here is a recipe for an All Purpose Vinaigrette:

1  medium garlic clove

¼  teaspoon salt

5  tablespoons olive oil

6  tablespoons orange juice

¼  white wine or red wine vinegar*

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

Peel garlic and smash or dice. Using a fork, mash garlic with salt in a small bowl to form a coarse paste.  Whisk in oil.  Add juice, vinegar and mustard.  Whisk until blended. Add more juice to increase sweetness.

*Other vinegars may be substituted such as apple cider, white or balsamic.

Article & recipe by Susy Hymas, Meals on Wheels & More