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Bring A Pretty Salad Please

Written for The River Current publication
Bring A Pretty Salad Please
     Do you have a special dish that you are requested and/or expected to bring to carry in dinners with family or friends?  As for my family, it seems certain family members have signature dishes that they are typically ‘assigned’ to bring to our gatherings.  
     Funny, it seems for the last year or so, my ‘assignment’ has been to bring what my brother calls a “pretty salad”.  I’m talking a tossed salad.  How in the heck did that happen?  My assumption is that because I have taken a more serious approach to health and nutrition, some assume I now only eat vegetables?
     I do eat vegetables, but I also enjoy many other things.  I lean towards clean, fresh and organic.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be limiting or restrictive.  My studies with the Nutrition Therapy Association high-lighted a nutrient dense whole food diet…which I am sure you have heard me talk about before.  In our acronym society, I like to refer to it as NDWFD. 
     Some refer to it as ‘clean eating’.  What is clean eating?  The soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible.  It is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation. 
Here are some easy tips to ponder when attempting to ‘clean’ up your eating habits:
 1. Eat with a conscience.
 2. Consume foods without a list of ingredients a mile long; ingredients and/or additives which we have no idea what they are, where they come from and even worse…how to pronounce. 
 3. Choose organic whenever possible.  
 4. Drink plenty of water…and when you think you have had enough, drink some more. 
 5. Avoid processed and refined foods such as white flour, sugar, bread and pasta.  (Sorry) 
 6. Enjoy complex carbs such as whole grains instead.  Steer clear of anything high in saturated and trans-fats, anything fried or anything high in sugar.  (I’m not making many friends here, am I?) 
 7. Consume healthy fats (essential fatty acids) every day. 
 8. Learn about portion sizes…steer clear of dinner plates large enough to be a serving platter! 
 9. Eat produce that is seasonal and local. 
10. Slow down and savor your food…it is good for your digestion and allows you to enjoy each and every bite. 

     Sorry, I got distracted.  Let’s get back to that pretty salad.  First let me tell you; if my assignment is to bring a pretty salad, my thinking is that I am going to make it the best darn salad you ever had!  Many now rave about my salads. 
     Recently I was invited to share dinner with a dear friend of mine, her hubby and their two adorable little boys.  I loaded up my salad fixings (fresh and organic) and headed out the door.   While my friend and I were catching up in the kitchen (aka: chatting excessively), I asked for a large bowl and quietly started to prepare the salad.
     I soon realized I had made way too much salad when my friend told me that she and I would be the only ones eating the salad.  Her husband "wasn’t fond of salad".  As we gathered around the table and everyone began to fill their plates, I couldn't help but notice that her hubby was asking for us to pass the salad his direction.  Later, as we were all enjoying both the dinner and enthusiastic conversation with the boys, her hubby asked for yet another serving of salad.  Ahhh….the beauty of a pretty salad and its ability to attract even the pickiest of eaters. 
     Maybe this is why I have been given this new assignment.  I now have the opportunity to share with others that even a simple, clean healthy salad can dominate the table.  To me that is success.  
     Whenever possible, I like to make my own salad dressings.  They are so quick and easy to put together and the taste is so much better than what you can get at the store!

Orange Herb Dressing
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar or white balsamic
¼ cup EVOO
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon; chopped or ½ tsp. dried
½ Tbsp. fresh oregano; chopped or ¼ tsp. dried
½ tsp. orange zest
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a small container (I like to use a jelly jar) and shake to combine.  Refrigerate until serving.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



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