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Turn over a new leaf: Salad recipes for the new year

Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Entertaining

A new year is always celebrated — maybe even revered — for its boundless possibilities.

Seeing those empty 365 days on the calendar as a blank slate, we can't help but feel optimistic when January rolls around. We resolve to improve our relationships, exercise more, stop smoking, curtail drinking and generally just live life to the fullest.

Many of us also pledge to be kinder to our bodies by making healthier choices at mealtime. Maybe you over-indulged over the holidays or (finally) came to the realization that, yes, you really are what you eat. Perhaps you just want to feel lighter, with more energy. To that end, experts advise filling our plates and bowls with a variety of fruits and vegetables each and every day.

A well-built salad can accomplish that goal.

Leafy greens and raw veggies are full of dietary fiber, which not only helps lower cholesterol levels but also keeps your gut healthy. Fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar, keeping hunger and mindless snacking in check.

Naturally low in calories, salad greens and their accoutrements also pack a nutritional punch, with vitamins A, C, E, B6 and folic acid. Why not throw a handful of nuts on top, or build the salad on a whole grain such as farro, bulgar or quinoa? You'll add some much-needed protein and healthy fats, too, while turning a snack or appetizer into a full-fledged, good-for-you meal.

 

One problem: Salads can be boring! Especially is it's just a wedge of iceberg lettuce or handful of pre-packaged, chopped greens topped with a high-fat, processed bottled dressing.

It doesn't have to be so.

The following four salads aim to build excitement by offering bright colors, a range of textures and crunchy and/or tangy add-ons such as nuts, finely grated cheese and dried fruit that assure every bite is super satisfying.

Make-your-own dressings add to their appeal, with seasonal ingredients such a maple syrup and citrus as key components.

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