Super Salads

11. May 2011

Super Salads!

I’m a terrible cook. And it’s my mother’s fault! Don’t get me wrong… Mom was an incredible cook. But she “enabled” me to become culinary-challenged by failing to insist I learn my way around the kitchen. Oh, I had to clean and do yard work on weekends, but sports and other after-school activities didn’t allow time for learning the fine art of separating eggs or reducing sauces. After swim practice, I’d come home to a foil-covered plate in the warming oven with a beautifully-balanced, healthy meal… a la Mom!

I got away with it for years. Working the night shift is a great excuse for an empty fridge. Even my long-suffering husband tolerated his wife’s ineptness in the kitchen. Tom never once complained, even when dinner was a bowl of raisin bran with a side of apple slices!

And now that I’ve run out of excuses, I’ll be honest. When it comes to cooking, I would still rather address a joint session of Congress than prepare a meal for anyone! That’s why I’m sold on salads! Even I can put together a decent salad, and with a little planning, I can include enough nutritious additions to turn a salad into a meal!

Lately, I’ve been using a chart I found in the Mayo Clinic Health letter that has been enormously helpful to me in planning tasty, but well-balanced and filling dinner salads. Even if, like me, you’re a kitchen-phobe… I promise, you CAN build a better salad.


Extras – Choose any one or no more than two: No more than 1 tablespoon (T) mayonnaise, 2 -T salad dressing, 3 -T sour cream or 1 teaspoon oil; ¼ avocado, about 6 nuts; about 8 olives; 2 –T chopped pickles; 2 –T dried fruit or ¼ cup salsa.

Herbs – As desired: Basil, chives, dill, fennel, mint, oregano, parsley, cilantro or tarragon

Carbohydrates and whole grains – Choose any one: Whole grains: 1/2 cup barley, bulgur, couscous, kasha, millet, quinoa, pasta, brown rice or wild rice. Whole-grain breads and such: 1 small bagel, a slice of bread, a roll or pita. One serving, according to the label, of whole-wheat crackers, crisp whole-wheat bread, matzo, melba, pretzels, rice cakes or ½ cup croutons.

Protein – Choose any one: Meatless: ½ cup lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh, beans such as soy, black, pinto, garbanzo, white or kidney, or one egg. Lean meats, fish and seafood: Up to 2 ounces beef, lamb, pork, poultry, tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, scallops, shrimp, clams or crab. Low-fat dairy: Up to 1 ounce of cheeses, such as cheddar, cottage, goat, feta or Swiss.

Vegetables and fruits – Choose two or more totaling 2 cups: Artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, green onions, jicama, pea pods, peppers, radishes, squash, apples, apricots, berries, citrus sections, grapes, mango, melon, peaches, pears, pineapple, pomegranate or watermelon.

Leafy greens – Choose 2 cups or more: Among the varieties are arugula, watercress, cabbage, Belgian or red endive, escarole, collards, bok choy, cabbage, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, green or red lettuce, bibb lettuce, iceberg lettuce, mesculin, radicchio, watercress, romaine and spinach.

Then… just add your favorite dressing… perhaps a lite, creamy style or squeeze on some lemon juice or drizzle a little red wine vinegar or olive oil over your salad. Go ahead! Create a healthy salad.

Summer’s almost here. Think about replacing your favorite hot meal with a full-meal salad that’s cool and delicious. With so many possible combinations of good, healthy foods, you and your family will never get bored.

Contact Carol by emailing her at