Satisfying Winter Salads

I sometimes think healthy resolutions would be easier to keep if we started them in summer rather than winter. Cold weather makes you crave comfort food which is usually not considered healthy. Salad, vegetables, smoothies or anything served cold isn’t very satisfying this time of year. But there are ways to boost your salads with layers of flavor and texture that will allow you to feel full, satisfied and successful at staying on track with your healthy goals.

When I make salads, I like to add a lot of different layers. There’s lettuce as a base, then other veggies, some type of fruit – dried and fresh, nuts for crunch and finally cheese. If making the salad a whole meal, then also a protein.

Mix of Greens: Winter greens like kale, chard, escarole and arugula are a good base that offers bold flavor and a thicker leafy texture. Mix these heavy greens with lighter greens like bibb lettuce, romaine, shredded iceberg and red leaf. This will balance the stronger lettuce with some neutral flavors and crunchy texture. Massaging your kale also helps make it more palatable. Fold the kale leaves over and cut down the back to remove the stem. Place the leafy portion in a large bowl and discard stems. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the bowl. Massage the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until tender.

Other Veggies: I can’t have a salad without tomatoes, but this time of year the grape tomatoes are the only tasty addition. Other options include carrots, radishes, sliced mushrooms, broccoli, beets, artichoke hearts and avocado.

Citrus: Adding orange segments, grapefruit or other seasonal citrus brightens the salad and gives it a tart punch. Also, use fresh lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice in the dressing. It can replace the vinegar in a recipe or split the acidic amount in half to be vinegar and juice.

Dried Fruit: Cranberries, sliced dried apricots, cherries, blueberries, pineapple and more. Dried fruit adds a punch of flavor along with the antioxidants found in fruit and berries.

Nuts & Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, cashews and almonds can be raw, chopped or sautéed in honey. Also, add a boost of fiber by topping the salad a sprinkle of flax, hemp, sunflower or chia seeds.

Cheese: In winter I like to add strong, flavorful cheeses like Parmesan, blue cheese or feta. Other good choices include goat crumbles, Pecorino Romano, aged cheddar or gruyere.

Protein: Make it a meal by adding hard-boiled eggs, grilled shrimp, shredded chicken, salmon, tuna or steak. Some vegetarian proteins include chickpeas, tofu, black beans or tempeh.

Winter Greens Salad with Orange-Sesame Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups tender mixed greens
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup kale leaves (see note)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine lettuces in a large bowl. Slice off 1/4 inch of skin from the top and bottom of the grapefruit. Using a thin, sharp knife, slice the skin off the grapefruit from top to bottom. Work around the grapefruit until all skin has been removed. Slice between the membranes to remove the segments. Add the segments to the top of the salad. Top with the egg, radishes, tomatoes, walnuts, cheese and cranberries.

Add remaining ingredients to a jar. Seal the jar and shake to combine. Add 1/3 cup of dressing to the salad. Serve additional dressing at the table.

Note: If using kale from a bunch, fold the kale leaves over and cut down the back to remove the stem. Place the leafy portion in a large bowl and discard stems. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the bowl. Massage the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until tender.

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