You may have gathered from my blogs that in the winter, we eat an awful lot of soup, because it’s comforting, quick, and an easy way to get a ton of veggies into our family’s diet. But by right around now, our soup love is seriously waning, which is why I’m always so happy to see a wider variety of greens in my farm box and to start celebrating the salad season.
Aiming to eat a salad every day is one of the simplest & healthiest habits you can adopt as a family for a whole bunch of reasons:
• Obviously, it’s an easy way to include 2-3 servings of nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich veggies and fruit in your day.
• It’s easy. If you have a salad dressing in the fridge (I’ve included one yummy recipe at the end), or oil and vinegar in the pantry, all you need is a bag of greens, a knife, and whatever’s in your crisper. You can also always ﬁnd a salad if you’re on the road at any restaurant or deli, so it’s an easy habit to keep no matter what.
• It’s a great way to give your kids choice & control within healthy boundaries. Put a little “salad bar” together on the counter, and let them choose their own greens, veggies and fruits, nuts or seeds, and a healthy dressing. When you give them a little say, it’s amazing what they’ll eat!
• It gives everyone a daily ﬁbre boost. More ﬁbre not only helps with digestive regularity, it helps keep cholesterol levels healthy.
• Diets high in fruits and veggies are linked with a lower risk of many cancers. If you are worried about cancer, this is an easy way to be pro-active.
• Salads are the perfect place to practice combining good carbs with protein and little healthy fat, something I work on with all my clients, young and old. A base of veggies and fruit for carbs, lean meat or beans for protein, a few nuts, seeds or avocado & a healthy dressing for a dose of good fat makes a perfectly balanced meal or snack.
There are no rules with salads, but I would suggest you try to include some darker greens, as these generally are more nutrient-dense, and work on including a rainbow of colour with your veggie & fruit toppings. Beware the salad dressing, this can be your downfall in an otherwise super-healthy meal. Check out the label on your family’s favourite dressing — does it include a mammoth list of ingredients, most of which you can’t pronounce? Many commercial dressings are laden with artiﬁcial colours & ﬂavours, sodium and unhealthy fats. If you have a mason jar and a blender you can whip up a quick dressing in less than ﬁve minutes and feel great about topping your family’s salads with it.
Here’s our current fave, perfect for a spring salad – Berry Balsamic. We love it on an arugula and spinach base with sunﬂower seeds, pecans, baby tomatoes and goat cheese.
1 c. strawberries (frozen and defrosted or fresh are both ﬁne)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup (or 2 pitted medjool dates, chopped)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor or high-powered blender, puree the berries, balsamic, maple syrup (or dates), salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil while blending to combine until a creamy dressing forms. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, aged 8 & 9. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.