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May is National Salad Month

Rediscover a Side with Style
Caprese - 16 by L. Marie, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  L. Marie 

Of all the outrageous food holidays (National Catfish Month? National Root Beer Float Day?), a month devoted to salads may seem on the surface to be the most unnecessary. We are more than versed in the cafeteria or grocery store salad bar, after all. Salads are a ubiquitous side dish, and they are even a popular fast food option. But if you are doing your level best to get your fruit and veggie servings every day, putting the spotlight on the salad may be just what you need to raise your servings quotient and rediscover what salad has to offer.

The Salad Advantage

Besides incorporating large amounts of veggies and fruit, salads arrive on the scene with their own built-in advantages. They are filling and fibrous, they are interesting to eat, and they provide variety that makes it almost impossible not to eat from the rainbow. Salads also come with their own deep history that makes them a surprisingly good fit as comfort food – fix a Cobb salad, a Waldorf salad or a little lime Jell-O and you’re instantly transported to the early 20th century. What’s more, salads deliver on a budget: salad-making is the stone soup of the American kitchen due to their uncanny ability to incorporate a fridge’s odds and ends and stretch a single chicken thigh or a sole carrot into a eight-serving dish.

So why not a month that pays homage to the ultimate vegetable delivery system? This May, get creative and make salad the meal, or decide that a salad dish will accompany every dinner plate. You might even take the opportunity to plan a salad-centric garden by experimenting with interesting greens that will inspire your salad days in the months to come.

In May, It’s Easy Being Green

Whether your penchant is to toss or to spin, here are three basic principles to live by as you embark on a month devoted to a pastiche of produce.

Know your greens. If you are still rocking the iceberg, it’s time to dump the colorless crunch and embrace dark leafies. Romaine or spinach provide the deep colors that indicate they are a food full of powerful antioxidants, for instance. You can also opt for no greens at all. Europeans are notorious for salads that use tomatoes or bell peppers as the under layer – tomato and mozzarella caprese salad is a beloved meal accompaniment, no greens necessary.

Make your own dressing. It’s a well-known salad trap: you start with a dish of healthy, and then ruin a good thing with fattening salad dressing. The solution? Forgo the supermarket bottles and take matters into your own hands so you have full control over your ingredients. Opt for basic vinaigrette, or make your own Russian by using low-fat yogurt. HuffPost’s Kitchen Daily covers the spread of DIY dressing, and Real Simple’s Simplystated.com has 6 Ridiculously Easy Homemade Salad Dressings including Creamy Tarragon and Avocado and a simple Thousand Island that kids will love.

Eat what you love. Silly for avocados? Think wild blueberries are the bomb? Can’t resist pasta? They are all ingredients that make salad sensational. If your salad seems a little dull, include a favorite topping that makes it delectable, whether it’s homemade croutons like these corn bread croutons that add killer crunch, or a sprinkle of parmesan. And don’t stint on the protein. Chicken, eggs or tofu can make a side into an instant meal. A part of using high-calorie foods moderately, decide to opt for the exciting flavor or olives instead of bacon, for example, and if you are cutting calories, a dash of Kosher salt might be enough to make dull different.

Salad Sensational

Cooking Light has 5-Ingredient Salads that run the gamut from Chicken and Spring Greens with Açai Dressing to Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing.

Wild blueberries shine in salad! Blues add glorious, nutritious color that instantly upgrades a salad’s flavor profile. Case in point, this Duck, Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad with Savory Wild Blueberry Sauce. Quinoa Salad with Wild Blueberries is a delicious dish that uses zucchini and Havarti cheese to create a superior flavor mix with wild blues.

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