20 May 2014

Nutritious Dinners: Main Course Salads

With all the heat we've been experiencing we've been craving fewer large meals and we've been doing a lot more foraging small snacks throughout the day. I have been avoiding turning on the oven at all costs because we just don't need more heat. So dinners have been a little interesting the past couple of weeks.

I have been wanting to help my family become salad lovers. They eat lots of salad but the idea of salad being the main course on the table just hasn't sat well with them so I haven't done it. After reading a healthy living magazine at the gym while I was cycling as fast as I could and climbing pretend mountains on a treadmill I got really inspired that last night was the night to make it happen. We had a very nice little grocery shop on Saturday night so the fridge is full of yummy stuff that would make a fantastic salad. I schemed it all out on my way home.

When I got home and was immediately asked what was for dinner, I didn't get much enthusiasm when I said Spinach Salad with Chicken. But I tried to up the excitement with the idea of homemade Ranch Dressing, garlic toast and watermelon on the side. Plus, I said we have berries and angel food cake for dessert! Still I kept getting requests from the little one "can we change the menu?" Oh, the adversity.

But I pressed forward anyway. I made a big beautiful salad with spinach, carrots, tomatoes, homegrown green pepper, onion, cranberries and mandarin oranges. I would've loved to have some jicama to add with it. It was a bold array of colors and by the time I put the chicken on top I couldn't wait to dive into it.

By now I had also gotten two thumbs up on the Ranch Dressing even though I wasn't loving it. Too much dill, too much olive oil. But I hoped if I let the flavors meld for a while in the fridge that maybe it would be okay. I'm using Greek yogurt for all my dressings by the way.

While I was making dinner, The Man was on the other side of the kitchen making his super power smoothie. When I say other side of the kitchen, imagine him about six inches away. It's a small galley kitchen. His smoothies are insanely healthy, they now have at least 10 ingredients and they taste good. It's like eating a days worth of vegetables in one 12 ounce glass. Good stuff. I want to start doing one of these for meals, breakfast or lunch. Just waiting in the fridge it makes the whole "what am I going to have for breakfast (or lunch)" much easier.

Once we sat down together at the table, it was covered with delicious, healthy food that was so beautiful, colorful and fresh looking. At this point all commentary on salad for dinner stopped and everyone was just excited to fill their plates with food. We piled salad high, passed around hot garlic bread and watermelon and found the new dressing to taste pretty good on the many kinds of vegetables. Soon everyone was devouring the delicious, flavorful meal. Dinner was amazing because we took hold of nature's bounty and it fed us well.

I think we've crossed over into Saladville and I'm looking forward to a summer full of great fresh fruits and vegetables. I think the family, especially the little one, now realizes that they can trust that I am going to put a delicious meal on the table that they will like. Just because I switch up the menu it is not cause for concern or need to campaign to go back to regular favorites. I am glad I was not swayed by the initial lack of excitement. Now my next job is to come up with a bunch of fun, different salads. I'm excited to take our healthy eating to a new level with a few less carbs and more protein and a lot more vegetables and fruit.

So my question for you is, what fun things do you put on green salads? I need more ideas.

image via MCA

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