How To Love Salad

19696333_sI hear from many patients that it’s difficult to eat more vegetables. When I suggest they start with something simple like a salad, the response is often, “But I don’t like salad.”

I think the real problem here isn’t the vegetables–it’s not what’s in salad that’s the problem. It’s what’s not. If you’re not a salad lover, I’ll bet it’s because the salads you’ve tried are missing one or more of the ingredients below.

What many people really don’t like is a heap of vegetables with no other complex flavors to balance them. A plate of plain veggies isn’t very exciting when you’re accustomed to processed food, or rich fats and proteins. And a large pile of vegetables without anything else alongside can upset some stomachs. Here are three simple ways to make a salad great.

Salt
Despite the bad–and undeserved–rap that salt gets, it’s essential to health. From an evolutionary perspective, salt is also relatively rare in natural foods, and we’ve evolved to love the taste of it. Salt can also suppress bitter tastes, to allow sweet and sour tastes to be more prominent.

In your salad, consider:

  • Adding salt to your homemade dressings (regular store-bought dressings tend to have plenty)
  • Adding pan-roasted seeds

Sugar
Like saltiness, we also crave sweetness. There are many natural sources of sweetness that, contrary to what you might think, taste fantastic in salad.

You may want to:

  • Add honey or maple syrup to your homemade dressings
  • Buy regular, not “sugar-free” or “low-fat” store-bought dressings
  • Add berries, fruit, beets, corn or other sweet foods to your salad

Protein
A big pile of just vegetables can not only upset some stomachs, but can also leave you unsatisfied. Adding sources of protein can enrich the taste, and leave you feeling fuller for longer.

Try:

  • Adding cheese–feta, cheddar, or your favoriteAdding nuts and seeds (see above)
  • Adding falafel or quinoa. Both are delicious in salads
  • Adding leftovers such as chicken, sausage, or hamburger

These three simpler additions can transform the taste and satisfaction of any salad. It’s why most people love Caesar salad, but don’t prefer a chef salad. The Caesar is full of fatty, salty, rich-tasting bacon, dairy and dressing. Now, you can take that same idea, and use it to transform a much more robust, nutritious salad into something you’ll love.

If you’ve never met a salad you’ve liked, it might be time to expand your ingredient list!

Easy Meal Tip: Anything on Greens

18998947_sSick of salad? Frustrated with looking in the fridge and wondering what to make?

A staple in our house has become the “anything on greens” meal. It’s easy: take just about anything, and put it on top of a big plate of salad greens.

“Anything on Greens” in Action

  • Got chili? Throw down 2-3 big handfuls of spinach and then pour the chili on top.  Add some hot sauce, some avocado and yum!
  • Leftover steak and potatoes? Throw down 2-3 big handful of lettuce, add some other veg, dice up the steak and potatoes and top with your favourite dressing.
  • Got leftover omellete? Yep. A fried egg? Sure. Baked beans? Absolutely! Just add to a bed of your favourite lettuce, spinach, spring mix or other greens, and dig in.

The point is just about anything tastes great on greens. The weirdest “salad” I’ve had so far was mixed greens, leftover sausage, leftover pizza and a fried egg on top. Drizzled with dressing and sprinkled with nuts. Sound crazy? Try it before you judge!

Anything on a bed of greens not only makes salads a lot more interesting, but it makes leftovers taste great, and is a fantastic way to get 4-5 serving of vegetables into a meal without you even noticing….:)

What We’re Having For Lunch

10231931_sRecently seen in the StoneTree lunchroom…:) -Tara

Shelby
(gluten free, vegetarian)

  • 3 salad combo from Café Chartreuse
  • Green beans and heart of palm
  • Greek salad
  • Corn, tomato and feta salad

Tara
(vegetarian)

  • Organic mixed greens with tomato, cucumber, orange pepper, feta cheese
  • Topped with crumbled Falafal and roasted seeds
  • Dressed with NewFarm Gold

Kendra
(gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian)

  • Baked beans in tomato sauce
  • Protein shake with vegan vanilla protein powder, kale from the garden, frozen berries, chia seed, hemp hearts and water

How to Identify & Treat Poison Ivy

800px-Toxicodendron_radicans,_leavesThis the season for this pesky little weed to really cause trouble. One of our young patients had a very bad reaction after making a “mud pie” with poison ivy berries and rubbing her hands all over her face and neck. A trip to the ER and some prednisone and she will be right as rain, but to avoid a similar trip with your kids here is what to look for.

Leaves of three?  Let them be!
Poison ivy grows everywhere – the woods, fields, your own backyard, vacant lots, but especially in ditches, along fences and the edges of forests or fields

It usually grows in patches, with a cluster of three leaves at the end of a long stem. Many other plants have three leaves and are not a trouble, but when in doubt, walk away. The berries (or seeds) for the plants are less common. Avoid any berry that is white and in a cluster.

You can see more photos and leaf variations, and identification tips here.

800px-Potapsco_fg13Using Jewelweed to Treat Poison Ivy

Jewelweed is in the same family as impatiens and touch-me-nots, and we’ve used it many times to effectively treat poison ivy. It has distinctive yellow or orange flowers. We’ve only tried the orange, which apparently works better than yellow, and it can work wonders.

You can make a poultice by boiling chopped leaves and stems, or try these other approaches:

If you are camping or hiking, and you know that you’ve been in contact with poison ivy, you can simply break off a branch of jewelweed and crush the stem and leaves in your hands. The stems are very fibrous and filled with a great deal of liquid. Rub the liquid on your skin wherever the poison ivy contact was made.

You can keep a supply of jewelweed ready to use by making a tea from the chopped stems and leaves. Boil them gently until the liquid is orange. Strain the liquid, and freeze it in ice cube trays. These ice cubes are potent for about a year. Just rub the ice cube on the affected area as needed.