Salad Savvy

You may have heard people comment that lettuce is just empty calories. This is just not true. While iceberg lettuce is not a nutritional powerhouse, other salad greens are nutritional champions.

As a general rule, the darker the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. Just as an example, romaine and watercress have seven times as much beta-carotene, two to four times as much calcium and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce.

By simply choosing a variety of salad greens you use in your salads, you can enhance the nutritional content and enjoy new tastes and textures. Give it try!

At the market: You want to buy salad greens that have been picked recently. A great place to buy salad greens is a farmer's market or farm stand. Look for clean, fresh looking cut ends. You don't want anything that looks rusty, dried-out or wilted. Crisp, bright looking leaves are good too. Firm or solid feeling heads of lettuce are best.

Storage at home: For wilt-free lettuce with maximum crunch thoroughly wash and dry your lettuce as soon you bring it home. Roll the leaves in several layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, seal in a plastic bag, and store in the "crisper" of your refrigerator for up to 1 week. Iceberg lettuce will keep up to 2 weeks.

Here are some simple, delicious salad green ideas for the whole family:

Lettuce Cups: Both Boston and Bibb lettuce make perfect "cups" for grilled fish, shrimp or tofu. Serve with diced vegetables and your favorite salad dressing to drizzle on top. These lettuce cups also make "green" taco shells, just fill them up with all your favorite taco fix-ens -- muy delicioso!

Tossed Salads: Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and onions are the traditional ingredients for a tossed salad. There are many more exciting options. Starting with a nice variety of salad greens in your bowl, add a few mix-in items and you'll transform the tired tossed salad into a great side dish.

Here are some of our favorite tossed salad mix-in combinations:

Cooked corn, black beans, diced red peppers, and crumbled tortilla chips

Mandarin oranges, diced green onions, and blanched almond pieces

Diced pears, chopped dates, crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnuts

Green apple slices, dried cranberries, and cheddar cheese cubes

Mango slices, grilled s---ake mushrooms, and sesame seeds

Dressing Up Your Tossed Salad: A great tossed salads is nothing without a delicious dressing. Homemade salad dressings are simple to make, taste better, and are much healthier than the store- bought bottles.

To make homemade salad dressing, simply start with a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the dressing ingredients from one of the recipes below to the container, cover it and give it a good shake. It's that easy!

Classic French Dijon:

3/4cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Pinch of salt & pepper

Creamy Dill:

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp chopped green onions

1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Pinch of salt & pepper

Sweet Balsamic:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4cup balsamic vinegar

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt & pepper


1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Lemon Garlic:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of salt & pepper

Fattoush Salad

This is a refreshing Middle Eastern chopped salad with a lemony zip. Chop or dice all of the ingredients into small pieces, so each forkful contains a complete variety of delicious flavors.


2 pita breads

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and dried

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

1/4 - 1/2cup Lemon Garlic Dressing (recipe above)

Directions: Toast pita breads until well done, cool, and break/crush into small pieces. Set aside. Chop lettuce into very small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the pita pieces. Pour Lemon Garlic Salad dressing over the salad and toss to combine all the flavors well. Serve.

Bok Choy Slaw

This cabbage is a staple in Asia and when you make this Asian-inspired cole slaw, you will know why it's a huge favorite.


2 bunches baby bok choy, cleaned

4 - 6 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 cup raisins

1 (3 ounce) package ramen noodles, crushed

Sesame Dressing (recipe above)

Directions: Shred or slice bok choy into small, thin pieces (like cabbage for cole slaw). Combine the bok choy, green onions, almonds, and ramen noodles in a salad bowl. Toss with dressing and let stand for a 15 minutes. Serve.

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.