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Refresh the life of your salad by making your own dressings to complement your meal

It’s not always easy getting excited about fruits and veggies.

I am not sure how you should or can, but those of us who prepare food (and all of us who consume food) need to find ways to get as excited about preparing and eating vegetables and fruits as we get about eating foods that are high in fats, sugars and calories with little nutrients.

I am challenging you to plan to improve your healthy eating by planning to eat more vegetables and fruits.

Summer is a natural time of the year for lighter eating and more fresh vegetables and fruits. My first thought is a green salad, as it combines nicely with many of the grilled foods you are preparing. Interestingly, the word salad comes not from anything to do with the green and leafy foods we most often associate with it, but from sal, the Latin word for salt, the first salad dressing. Salt was used as an earlier preservative to keep herbs and other plants fresh. These salted foods could be considered the original salads.

Eventually, all manner of ingredients were added to the simple mixtures. Today a salad can consist of so many different types of ingredients and be served in so many ways that it almost resists definition, except to call it, as does the dictionary, a hodgepodge. Whether it’s cold, hot, an appetizer, a first course, a main course, a post-entree refresher, all vegetables, all fruits, with meat or without meat, most salads share a common characteristic: a dressing or sauce of some kind.

The dressing or the sauce is often where the eating healthy part is lost because of the amount of fat or sugar in the dressing. Making your own salad dressing is an excellent way to create a dressing that is healthier and to also stretch your food dollars. I remember as a child making French dressing using a can of creamed tomato soup; this was a bonus to eating green salad. I encourage you to find a basic recipe online or in your favorite cookbook and making it as the directions state the first time, and then begin to adapt the recipe on your own.

When you are making a healthy green salad, avoid using iceberg lettuce as there is little food value. Bagged salads may be convenient, but they don’t keep. When you are selecting greens for a salad keep in mind the fresher and greener the lettuce, the fresher tasting the salad! When storing greens, keep them as dry as possible. If you buy greens in the box, open the box and place some paper towels in the bottom, layered between the greens in the middle and lying on top. The paper towel will absorb the moisture and the salad greens will keep longer.

Here is to making a real effort to eating more vegetables and fruits, and starting with a light and tasty green salad that allows you to be creative.

For more nutrition and healthy eating tips from Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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