Enjoying the New Main Dish Salads

Enjoying the New Main Dish SaladsWith all the latest information we have on the nutritional value of different fruits and vegetables, salads have become more than just a dinner salad. With the introduction of vegetables that include leafy greens and root vegetables, like black radishes, endive, kale, arugula, purple, white, and yellow carrots, just to name a few, and with an array of different fruits as well, like figs and pomegranates. They have always existed, but not common to the produce section, as in recent years.

close up for detail of Kale Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad

Kale Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad – Click to Get Recipe

If anyone can remember, kale always adorned a salad buffet bar, but was never part of the salad you would put on your plate.

As we mentioned at the on set of the article, salads have become more than just a dinner salad, they have now become a Main Dish Salad. Sure there has always been a Caesar Salad, and if you asked, they added chicken. But now there are a lot more dressed up salads, than just a Caesar Salad.

Chicken Curry with Mango and Spinach Salad...close up

Chicken Curry with Mango and Spinach Salad – Click to Get Recipe

Because of all the new options available to us, salads have become front and center as meals of their own. Main Dish Salads can prepare in 40 minutes or less. By the way, the term salad is even changing, the in thing is”leafy greens.”

To make Main Dish Salads, does require planning ahead to make sure you have all of the nutritious ingredients. This means working out a meal plan for the week, prepping, shopping, stocking your pantry, and cooking. It isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Sunday morning with your coffee, tea, or juice in hand, think what you and your family want for dinner the coming week. Once you have thought it out, make a list of the leafy greens, fruits and vegetables you will need, as well as the meat you want to top or mix into the Main Dish Salad.

Chicken Avocado and Watercress Salad - close-up

Chicken Avocado and Watercress Salad – Click to Get Recipe

Having a main dish salad is both healthy and time saving as they are prepared with vegetables and require little cooking and prep time. A main dish salad can be prepared to reflect the season (though with world trade, most produce is available year round).

Such as preparing main dish salads with produce that is naturally harvested in Spring (like beets, fava, leeks, herbs, peas etc.), Summer (like bell peppers, berries, corn, eggplant, peaches, zucchini and other summer squash etc.), Autumn (like cabbage, apples, figs, pears, broccoli, sweet potatoes etc.), and Winter (like endive, watercress, celery root, fennel, citrus, winter squash etc.).

Spanish Chicken Salad

Spanish Chicken Salad – Click to Get Recipe

As for the meat, use shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breast, breaded chicken, tuna, cooked beef, turkey, turkey ham, and pork ham. Include some cheese like goat, feta, Romano etc., and croutons if you wish.

Once you find the salad recipes you like, you can use the ingredients to create your own combinations of a Main Dish Salad.

Link here for more Main Dish Salad ideas: Salads as a Main Course 

 

 

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Juicing for Better Health

Juicing for Better Health

Whether it is just a fad or a trend that is here to stay, juicing is extremely popular among health conscious individuals. As more and more people experience the amazing results associated with this healthy lifestyle choice, its popularity is expected to grow.

Without question, juicing can be incorporated into your daily life to increase your overall health and vitality. By increasing your daily intake of healthy fruits and vegetables, you’ll be giving your body the essential building blocks it needs. To get the most benefit out of juicing, you’ll want to educate yourself on some of the basics before you get started. You’ll find a wealth of information on these topics in the pages that follow.

The Benefits of Juicing at Home

If you are new to juicing, you may find the process to be a bit of a hassle. However, once you start to see and experience the many benefits associated with juicing, you may wonder how you ever got along without it. So commit to testing out your new lifestyle for at least several weeks before deciding if it is for you or not.

Important Tip: Making your own fresh juice drinks is better than buying ready-made juice products as they have to be treated and processed to extend shelf  life. Therefore, homemade juices are fresher, plus you have more control over what you are putting into your body.

When making your own homemade juices, however, it is important to consume the juice product as soon as it is ready. Exposure to air degrades the nutrients in your juice, so the sooner you drink it, the better.

beet juice - Juicing for Better Health

 

It should also be noted that although fresh fruit juices are delicious and refreshing, be aware that many fruits are naturally high in sugar which can lead to unwanted weight gain and other unintended health issues. A better alternative is to combine complementary fruits and vegetables together to create healthy and delicious concoctions. Combining vegetable-based juices with a healthy balanced diet will help you achieve the results you desire.

 

 

 

Benefits of Healthy Juicing

One of the main benefits of juicing is that it is a lot easier to drink a single glass of nutrient-rich juice than it is to consume a comparable amount of whole fruits and vegetables. People are busy and most simply won’t sit down and eat that much produce at one time. Instead, they’ll reach for more convenient, but less healthy options.

There are many advantages associated with juicing. As mentioned, juicing makes it easier to give your body the important nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals it needs. In addition, some argue that juicing offers a more efficient way for your body to absorb nutrients without placing undue pressure on your digestive system.

Juicing is also a great alternative for those who dislike vegetables and avoid eating them whenever possible. For these individuals, a glass of delicious juice lightly sweetened with a bit of pineapple or pear is a welcome alternative to a plate of steamed veggies.

There are tons of recipes available online to help you make delicious and creative juicing concoctions your whole family will love. When creating a collection of juice recipes you want to try, look for combinations that include both fruits and vegetables for the greatest health benefits.

Be aware that most juicing recipes include parts of the fruits and vegetables you would normally discard.  With juicing, you’ll often be advised to include leafy plant tops, rinds, skins, seeds and other parts that normally end up in the trash or compost pile. This is a real shame, because these items are often full of the essential nutrients your body needs.

Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain PlusWhen you start juicing, you will want to invest in a juicer powerful enough to handle the types of fruits and vegetables you plan to use. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or make a huge financial commitment to test out your new lifestyle. There are a number of really good entry-level centrifugal juicers on the market for around $50 or $60. These models don’t offer all the bells and whistles of higher end units, but they are certainly worthy of your consideration.

Regardless of what kind of juicer you choose, consider it an investment in your long-term health. Making your own juices at home is infinitely better for you than picking up processed juices in your local grocery store. Those processed juices usually require some heating process to extend their shelf life, which can kill off valuable enzymes and nutrients. By making your own juice at home, you can keep the integrity of juice blends intact.

 

 

 

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Cleaning Your Produce Naturally

Cleaning Your Produce NaturallyFarm fresh produce аrе reaped from the fields without bad bacteria and are clean in that repects, they are hygienic еnоugh tо consume. Hоwеvеr, bу thе time thеѕе commodities reach uѕ, thеу have аlrеаdу bееn handled bу several people, right frоm picking, storing, transporting, and displaying, thе produce has been touched bу about 20 sets of hands.

These hands can either be clean or not, and if not it can increase thе chance оf spreading food borne illnesses. Thіѕ іѕ whеrе washing raw and edible produce is important. Here аrе ѕоmе simple аnd effective ways tо wash your produce, or fruits and vegetables before consuming them.

washing hands with soapFirst it should be said, always wash your hands first, before washing your produce. Washing your hands has nothing to do with the solutions. If skipping this step, that is washing your hands, you can deposit bacteria back on to your clean produce. Bacteria that cause disease are common in our homes and on our hands.

It is recommended to always wash your hands without anti-bacterial soap. Find out why by linking to this article: Antibacterial Cleaners: Can They Do More Harm Than Good?

White Vinegar

White vinegar is nоt harmful tо thе body іn аnу way.  It contains acetic acid, whісh kills bad bacteria аnd removes аnу pesticide residues. The vinegar also helps to dissolve the wax found on the skins of many fruits and vegetables.

Prepare the wash with the following ingredients: Mix together 3 tablespoons оf salt аnd ½ cup оf vinegar wіth 2 cups оf water.

natural spray solution to clean produce -Cleaning Your Produce Naturally

Image credit: greendivamom.com

Use the solution to clean the produce by spraying it over the product or for better results, soak thе fruit аnd vegetables fоr 10 minutes іn thе vinegar solution, thеn rinse wіth water.

In place of the salt you can add either lemon juice or baking soda. Using a white vinegar cleaning solution оn а regular basis wіll assure you from preventing contaminants entering уоur body.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Citrus seed extract, or better known grapefruit seed extract іѕ thе liquid produced frоm thе membrane, pulp аnd seeds оf the grapefruit.

Just add 20 drops оf grapefruit seed extract tо 4 cups of water, and shake wеll. If adding to a spray bottle, spray іt оn thе produce.

Cleaning Your Produce Naturally washing in a sink of water solution

Image credit: luxuryholistics.com

 

You can also soak the fruit and vegetables in the sink. Just add 20 drops оf the extract per 4 cups of water. Make sure the water is covering the fruit and vegetables. Let thеm soak fоr 10 minutes аnd thеn rinse thоrоughlу wіth water.

 

Lugol’s Iodine

Add 1 drop оf Lugol’s iodine tо а quart оf water. Wash thе edibles fоr аbоut а minute аnd thеn rinse wіth water. Fоr thick skinned fruits аnd vegetables, just scrub wіth а brush tо remove hardened impurities аnd bacteria.

 

Ozonated Water 

Cleaning Your Produce Naturally with Ozonated Water

Image Credit: ozone6.com/

Wіth аn economical ozone machine, уоu саn ozonate thе water аnd uѕе іt аѕ а solution tо wash edible items. Ozone kills contaminants deposited оn thе fruits аnd vegetables. Simply, lodge thе ozone water bubbler іn thе water bowl fоr аbоut 7 – 8 minutes аnd thеn rinse fruits аnd vegetables wіth thіѕ ozone water.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide wіth 1 tablespoon оf natural soap, made with organic materials. Spray the solution оn fruits аnd vegetables. Thе solution foams оut аnd kills any bacteria.

Eat Cleaner

Cleaning Your Produce Naturally with Eat CleanerA natural product made of food grade cleaners. Eat Cleaner states their product is over 99% more effective than using water alone in removing pesticides, wax and debris, and also extends the shelf life of the produce  200% longer!

Eat Cleaner leaves no odor or residue on the food. It can also be used to safely clean all cutting surfaces, and is all-natural.

Be sure to keep your produce wash solutions, natural or not out of the reach of children.

families eating healthyMеrеlу washing your produce wіth water іѕ nоt sufficient. Yоu nеvеr know what kind оf contaminants аrе resting оn thе fruits аnd vegetables уоu buy frоm thе local grocery store. Its recommended tо uѕе thеѕе solutions tо ensure thаt whаt уоu аrе eating іѕ clean.

 

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How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

 

We posted an article awhile back about enjoying melons on hot summer days (Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons). I spoke with a few local  Farmer’s Market venders and asked them about how to chose melons that are ripe and ready to eat, and here is the jest of what they had to say, starting with the cantaloupe:

Cantaloupe, Mark said, is one of the most popular melons in America. While the cantaloupe is deeply loved by many, as Mark went on to say, “It’s equally disappointing when you get a cantaloupe that either isn’t ripe yet or has passed its prime”. To make sure you don’t suffer from this disappointment, here are some tips that Mark shared with us on how to chose the best cantaloupe.

* When picking out the perfect cantaloupe, you want to use your senses. Let’s start with sight. Look at the color of your cantaloupe. You want one that has more yellow tones to it. Pay close attention to the colors between the webbed portion of the cantaloupe. If it’s still green it’s not ripe; it was picked too soon.

* Look for a mark on the side of the melon that is flat and is slightly different in color. This is the side which was on the ground and did not see sun.

* Listen – Now you need to give the melon a little listen. Holding it in your hand, knock a few times on the side of the cantaloupe. If it’s deep and thick, then you have a good dense and full cantaloupe. If it has a high-pitched sound, then it isn’t ripe.

* Feel – You need to know how the cantaloupe feels in your hands too. You want it to be firm, but not too firm. Squeeze it gently on its ends. If there’s some give to it, it’s good. However, if it’s mushy and wet then it’s past its prime. If it’s too hard with no give then it’s not a ripe cantaloupe.

* Smell – This might be the most important of your senses when choosing the perfect cantaloupe. You want one that is very aromatic and sweet smelling. The sweeter, the better. If you don’t smell any aroma, then the cantaloupe is not ripe. If it’s an unpleasant odor, then it’s no good. If you do nothing else but smell, then you should still be able to find the most flavorsome cantaloupe possible.

* Taste it! Of course this isn’t something you can do in the grocery store or at the market, but clearly the best way to tell if a cantaloupe is at its freshest is by tasting it. Hopefully you have used your other senses in the ways described above so you don’t get a mouthful of tasteless cantaloupe. That would be a big disappointment.

once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riperThe thing when picking out the perfect cantaloupe is to remember the nursery rhyme Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want it too firm or too soft. You don’t want it too green or too yellow. You don’t want it too strong smelling or not smelling enough. It needs to be just right. Then you will know that you have found the absolute perfect cantaloupe.

Also remember, once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riper than it is at that moment it was picked. So don’t buy a slightly unripe cantaloupe thinking that if you give it a few days it will get better.

Please return as we have tips on How to Choose and Store Watermelon.

 

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Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

We went shopping for some fruits and vegetables and I found a good watermelon. The batch of melons we were examining were from Mexico. The watermelons were all little girl enjoying a sweet watermelonthe same weight and the same shape. If your asking how is that possible, it is because we bought it at Cost Co. All of the fruits and vegetables they stock have to be to their standards, that is shape, size, and weight. Especially if the produce is sold in singles, like watermelons. As they have no scales to weigh the produce, they need to be the same weight.

With that said, you may think that every watermelon in the bunch is equally as ripe and sweet. But not so. How is one able to choose the right melon?

I found this image on-line that is self explanatory. It shows how you can select the right melon, so when you cut it up and take your first bit, you won’t be dissatisfied with a non-sweet, pithy watermelon.

choosing a rip watermelon

Once you have your rip, sweet watermelon, you need to try this wonderful salad: Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad.

Here is what you will need:

chopped watermelon

Wow, doesn’t that melon look rip and juicy. You need  1 ripe and sweet watermelon, cubed at desired size, 5-7 pieces per salad plate. You will use between 1/4 and 1/2 of the melon. It all depends on how many plates you will be serving.

ingredients both for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad and the vinaigrette

In addition you will need:

1 shaved fennel bulb set in ice water to crisp

1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts, broken into small pieces

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces

1 cup Tender Greens lettuce mix (variety of lettuce and greens)

1/2 shallot, minced

The shallot will be used in the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette.

ingredients for Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Along with the shallots you will need the following to make the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette to mix with the leafy greens:

5 chive stems, finely chopped

3 basil leaves, finely sliced (I forgot to mark that on the image. That is what is in the jar in the back ground)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

 Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

 

Whisk together shallots, chives, basil, honey and balsamic; slowly add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

preparing hazel nuts, and anise for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Next remove the green top from the fennel and shave the bulb allowing the shaved parts to fall into a pie plate full of  ice water to crisp the shavings. What ever method you want to use, chop the hazel nuts. I have a Progress-o Chopper in among my kitchen arsenal.

 

mixing salad, adding vinaigrette

 

In a large bowl gently toss tender greens, crisp fennel, toasted hazelnut, add some salt and pepper to taste. Next add 2 tbsp. of the vinaigrette together with the leafy greens and incorporate well.

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Plate the leafy greens mixture. Place cubed watermelon on salad mix, about 5 to 7 cubed pieces. Crumble goat cheese on top. Finish with drizzled vinaigrette around salad.

If you desire to add meat to this salad, cook up 12 to 16 oz. of pork bacon; but not crispy. Cut each strip into 5 or 6 slices. Top the bacon after adding watermelon and then top with goat cheese.

Take this salad to your next Pot Luck or Summer Picnic in the Park and nobody will stop talking about the person who brought that tasty and delectable salad.

This recipe adopted from: Tender Greens 

 

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Elegant Entertaining Without Breaking the Bank

preparing for a dinner partyDo you always wait for a special occasion to have a dinner party? You know the saying – More Happiness in Giving than in Receiving – , so why wait for that special occasion. It has been scientifically proven doing something for others, is good for your health. When you’re having a good time at parties laughing, it literally strengthens your heart. Who doesn’t want a healthy heart?

Now you might be saying, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body-how will I decorate without spending a fortune?  Or, what will I serve?”

Relax and take a deep breath, because we have the answers, with a few tips hints on how to create an affordable elegance that you can enjoy just as much as your guests.

To start you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on anything that will only be used once. Start by looking around your home and see what you can use to complement a specific theme. Depending on the time of year you can do the following.

If you’re hosting a luncheon for family or a group of friends, gather potted plants from inside and outside your home and place them in the dining area for a lush, garden theme. Make place cards by writing each guest’s name on a leaf.

For an inexpensive table centerpiece, if you live near pine trees, fill a long platter or wicker basket with pine cones, fresh fruit, nuts, small white birch logs and baby pumpkins.

Maybe you have your own ideas…share them with us in the comment area below.

Now to answer the next question: “What will I serve?”

If you are making a main course, keep it simple and stick with what you know. Take advantage of convenience items such as pre-chopped vegetables or rotisserie chickens (check out our 30 minutes or less dinner ideas).

Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family to bring simple side dishes such as a marinated salad or potato dish (here’s a few of our side dish ideas).

pouring a glass of wineAt your formal gatherings, why not receive your guests with a glass of wine? Have a small table set up with wine glasses and a bottle of wine (it doesn’t have to be an expensive wine) at your entry way to your home. When your guests knock on the door, you answer it, let your guests in, take their coat and offer them a glass of wine while you are pouring it.

cold cuts and cheese for informal gatheringsFor less formal gatherings, purchase finger foods or snacks that your guests can enjoy while in good conversation. There’s mixed nuts, cold cuts, crackers and exotic cheeses, prepared salads and fresh salsa and chips.

Here are a few finger food recipes you could serve at your informal gathering: Brown Sugar Finger Wings or Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

What if your guests arrive and you are a little behind? Will you can anticipate that, because you will have appetizers to satisfy them while they wait for the main course. Here are some ideas:  Peach Mango Salsa served with chips. Try these ideas as well, link here.

Don’t forget your favorite beverages, and festive music, and you’re well on your way to hosting an “Affair to Remember!”

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Header Image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo

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