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Great Salads for Any Occasion
From picking to storing and building, use these tips to create the perfect salad.

Salads are perhaps the most versatile and healthy dish around.

You may have heard people comment that lettuce is just empty calories, but contrary to popular belief, this is just not true. While iceberg lettuce is not a nutritional powerhouse, other salad greens are nutritional champions.

As a general rule, the darker the lettuce leaves the more nutritious the salad. As an example, romaine and watercress have seven times as much beta-carotene, two-to-four times as much calcium and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By simply choosing a variety of lettuce greens used in your salads, you can enhance the nutritional content and enjoy new tastes and textures. Give it try!

Shopping and Keeping Your Lettuce

At the market: You want to buy salad greens that have been picked recently. A great place to buy salad greens is a farmer's market or farm stand. Look for clean, fresh-looking cut ends. You don't want anything that looks rusty, dried-out or wilted. Crisp, bright-looking leaves are good too. Firm or solid feeling heads of lettuce are best.

Storage at home: For wilt-free lettuce with maximum crunch, thoroughly wash and dry your lettuce as soon you bring it home. Roll the leaves in several layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, seal in a plastic bag, and store in the "crisper" of your refrigerator for up to one week. Iceberg lettuce will keep up to two weeks.

Simple, Delicious Salad Ideas for the Whole Family

Lettuce Cups: Both Boston and Bibb lettuce make perfect "cups" for grilled fish, shrimp or tofu. Serve with diced vegetables and your favorite salad dressing to drizzle on top. These lettuce cups also make "green" taco shells, just fill them up with all your favorite taco fix'ns—muy delicioso!

Tossed Salads: Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and onions are the traditional ingredients for a tossed salad. There are many more exciting options. Starting with a nice variety of salad greens in your bowl, add a few mix-in items and you'll transform the tired tossed salad into a great side dish.

5 Favorite Tossed Salad Mix-in Combinations:

1. Cooked corn, black beans, diced red peppers, and crumbled tortilla chips

2. Mandarin oranges, diced green onions, and blanched almond pieces

3. Diced pears, chopped dates, crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnuts

4. Green apple slices, dried cranberries, and cheddar cheese cubes

5. Mango slices, grilled shitake mushrooms, and sesame seeds

Dressing Up Your Tossed Salad

A great tossed salad is nothing without a delicious dressing. Homemade salad dressings are simple to make, taste better, and are much healthier than the store- bought bottles.

To make homemade salad dressing, simply start with a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the dressing ingredients from one of the recipes below to the container, cover it and give it a good shake. It's that easy!

Classic French Dijon:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper

Creamy Dill:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped green onions
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper

Sweet Balsamic:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Lemon Garlic:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper

International Salads

Fattoush Salad
This is a refreshing Middle Eastern chopped salad with a lemony zip. Chop or dice all of the ingredients into small pieces so each forkful contains a complete variety of delicious flavors.

2 pita breads
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and dried
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tbsp. mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/4—1/2 cup Lemon garlic dressing (recipe above)

Directions: Toast pita breads until well done, cool, and break/crush into small pieces. Set aside. Chop lettuce into very small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the pita pieces. Pour lemon garlic salad dressing over the salad and toss to combine all the flavors well. Serve.

Bok Choy Slaw
This cabbage is a staple in Asia and when you make this Asian-inspired cole slaw, you will know why it's a huge favorite.

2 bunches baby bok choy, cleaned
4 to 6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup raisins
1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, crushed
Sesame dressing (recipe above)

Directions: Shred or slice bok choy into small, thin pieces (like cabbage for cole slaw). Combine the bok choy, green onions, almonds and ramen noodles in a salad bowl. Toss with dressing and let stand for a 15 minutes. Serve.

Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the "So Easy Baby Food" and the new book "So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years." Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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