American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

Quick, Easy, Delicious Holiday Salads

beautiful salad with beetsA beautiful holiday salad is so easy to put together and makes a meal feel really special. Its something healthy that everyone actually wants to eat! Those trying to eat well will appreciate your effort, and those who don’t care will eat something healthy without fussing about it.

The key to a festive, enticing holiday salad is adding something with a bold, bright color like beets, winter squash, radicchio, or orange segments. The jewel colors are enticing and make it special.

Next add some toasted nuts and a creamy component like a crumbly cheese. All of this against a backdrop of dark greens looks spectacular. A olive-oil based dressing makes everything shine and brings out all of the flavors.

Here’s how to do it, whether you have 5 minutes or 30 minutes:

Greens

1 minute: pre-washed dark lettuce in a bag, if its a little tired dunk it into some ice water for a few minutes, spin dry and it will be fresh again.

5 minutes: wash, spin and chop some dark leaf lettuces. Add some radicchio for a beautiful color and crispy texture.

“Jewels”

1 minute: drain canned mandarin orange segments  (packed in juice, not syrup).

5 minutes: slice pre-steamed beets from the produce section of the grocery store.

30 minutes: toss pre-chopped butternut squash, sweet potatoes or carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees until tender and the edges are starting to brown, about 25 minutes. Let them cool a few minutes before adding to the salad.

Nuts

1 minute: use pre-toasted nuts.

5 minutes: put whole pecans or walnuts into a dry skillet and toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until you can smell them. Take them off the heat and let cool for a minute before adding to the salad.

Creamy

1 minute: crumble any cheese you like, such as gorgonzola, blue cheese, goat cheese or feta.

5 minutes: slice an avocado and toss with lemon juice to prevent it from turning brown.

You can add both of these to the salad – it will be extra special!

Dressing

1 minute: use your favorite bottled dressing or a pre-made dressing. I like Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette when I’m in a pinch.

5 minutes: in a jar put 1/3 lemon juice and 2/3 olive oil (make as much as you need for the size of your salad), add a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Shake and that’s it – its really good.

10 minutes: add chopped shallot and your favorite herb to the dressing above.

You can find more salad dressing ideas here

You can layer your ingredients in your salad bowl, and toss with the dressing just before serving. Or, if you want a different presentation, layer the greens, “jewels”, nuts and creamy bits on a platter and drizzle the dressing over it all.

That’s it – in almost no time at all you’ve got a dish worthy of your holiday table and any potluck. Everyone will appreciate how your salad made them feel special, and you can appreciate something healthy that took no time at all to create.

Make this salad a meal by adding a can of rinsed chickpeas, some chicken or salmon. That’s all you need for a super-quick dinner that’s delicious and healthy. You can find more salad recipes here.

Want a healthy dessert option too? Here you go:

Melt some semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl either in the microwave or over a double-boiler. Take some orange segments and dip them half way into the chocolate. Let set on waxed or parchment paper for about an hour, then serve and enjoy! Super easy, light and delicious.  chocolate dipped oranges

If you don’t know how to cut your orange to get nice segments, check You Tube. There are several good tutorials to show you how. You could also use sliced bananas or strawberries.

These chocolate-dipped fruits look really beautiful and special. Only you will know how easy they are to make.

 

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