One of the first cooking classes I ever attended was in 1995 and was a Vegetarian/Vegan Class taught by a woman named Yogi Ji and it was taught at UNLV. I attended the class with my mom and I will never forget everything I learned from it. It was the starting point to my love of cooking and healthy eating.
One of the things we learned how to make in this class was salads. Sounds so simple, but there is so much that goes into making an incredible salad. Ever since that class, I have a love for making salads. As a multi-tasking, part time working mom, preparing food in advance works for our busy, on the go lifestyle. I found that making a “salad bar” to keep in the refrigerator helps when quick meals are needed or when I need to have fresh snacks ready for my son. If I prepare the ingredients before hand, I just keep everything in individual containers in the refrigerator until we are ready to assemble our salad.
My son loves to help prepare all the salad ingredients with me. Whether he is washing, peeling, chopping, or tossing, I always give him little jobs to help me out and keep him interested. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the vegetables about the importance of eating them.
Excellent salad ingredients ideas and a list of some of our favorites are:
Grated Carrots, Celery and Zucchini – I like to have this grated mixture in the refrigerator at all times. I can then add it to salads, stir fry and wraps. I grate them with my food processor.
Lettuce/Greens – I love using all different types of lettuce in my salads like romaine, red leaf, green leaf, butter lettuce, spinach. Don’t be afraid to try something different.
Kale - Since Kale is very course when eaten raw, I like to chop it really fine and then use on my salads.
Other favorite salad items include:
Red Bell Peppers
Garbanzo beans, kidney beans
Quinoa or rice
Any nuts or seeds
Lemon-Herb Vinagrette, Recipe by Lisa Cheplak
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
A touch of Honey or Agave Nectar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (I also use parsley, thyme, oregano or any herbs you like)
Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, garlic….Whisk in oil and herbs.
The next receipe is one of my new favorite dressings. I also use this as a vegetable dip.
Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing, Recipe by Karen Ranzi, author of Creating Healthy Children
2 Tbsp Pinenuts
1 ½ cups Cucumber, Peeled and Chopped
2 celery stalks
2 pitted dates, soaked for ½ hour if not soft (or you can also use raisins)
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup fresh dill (or I have used parsley too)
Blend all together in a Blender or Vita Mix (can add water while blending if too thick)
I set up all of the “salad bar” ingredients for my son and let him assemble his own salad. Salads can be served as side dishes or can be a full meal in itself. With preparation in advance, it makes for a quick and healthy meal at any time.
Make It Healthy and Make It Fun!