Healthy Beginnings

Bring on the veggies for these easy salad recipes

You can whip up a beautiful meal in only 15 minutes with a little creativity and some fresh vegetables on hand.

You are what you eat. Food impacts everything we do and is important not only to our health, but to our environment and local economy.

If we look to food we can change our health, prevent disease, protect our environment and stimulate our economy — such is the mission of Tahoe Food Hub, a nonprofit working to educate consumers on the importance of food while also supporting small farms and creating a sustainable local food system.

“Unfortunately in this day and age, food has been marginalized where people take it for granted and instead go for prepared meals or fast food,” Susie Sutphin, director of Tahoe Food Hub, said in an interview with Healthy Beginnings. “To be honest, I don’t even know if many of those processed vegan meals are much better for you than the fast food.”

Too often home cooks overcomplicate dishes and lose passion for the kitchen. With that in mind, Healthy Beginnings is kicking off a regular wellness recipe series in May. This month, we feature Tahoe Food Hub’s Sutphin, who is turning to a classic with limitless opportunity: the salad.

“We’re trying to get people to eat healthier — if we make too many steps in a recipe it’ll be overwhelming,” Sutphin said. “I can cook a really nice meal in 15 minutes; one of my favorites is a fresh Caesar salad — you can’t get any simpler or healthier than that.”

You can recreate Sutphin’s favorite salad with a bed of fresh romaine lettuce topped with a piece of grilled salmon seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Shave some fresh Parmesan on top of your favorite light Caesar dressing.

To take your salad game to the next level, start out with one or a few greens as your base, such as: romaine, arugula, kale, spinach, spring mix, chard, butter lettuce, dandelion, endive, frisée, green leaf lettuce, radicchio, watercress.

Add a protein if you’d like, by grilling or sautéing chicken breast, fish, even a lean steak, and let the toppings shine.

DIFFERENT SALAD OPTIONS 

Roasted Veggie Medley:

Roasted vegetables add delicious flavor to your raw veggie salad and you can use practically whatever you have on hand. Try roasting beets, sweet potato, red onion, broccoli and butternut squash.

Method: Dice the vegetables of your choosing, toss in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and garlic. Spread the vegetable medley in one layer on one or two baking sheets and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

 

Cherry Tomato Caprese:

This Italian favorite is delicious on its own, on top of chicken breast, or tossed in leafy greens.

Method: Slice cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Add diced mozzarella and top with fresh basil ribbons, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Toss in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

Mediterranean Marinated Chickpeas:

Hit the pantry to take canned vegetables from boring to the star of your salad.

Method: Combine chickpeas (canned), chopped roasted red peppers (jarred) and feta cheese with freshly chopped basil and with drizzle olive oil, red wine vinegar and a quick drizzle of honey. Stir in garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

 

Guacamole Salad:

Chunky “guacamole” makes a great, tangy Southwest topping.

Method: Combine diced avocado, diced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes and about a cup each of rinsed, canned black beans and canned corn. Squeeze an entire lime over the top, drizzle olive oil and stir in lime zest, salt, pepper, cumin and freshly chopped cilantro.

Lastly, dress ‘em up: Finally, to keep things quick and simple, opt for a low-fat, low-sodium prepared dressing or whip up a quick vinaigrette with your variation of oil, vinegar, citrus juice, salt, herbs and spices.

Cassandra Walker is a special assignments reporter for the Sierra Nevada Media Group who writes regularly for Healthy Beginnings magazine. She can be reached at cwalker@swiftcom.com.