Anatomy Of A Salad

By Sarah Petty L. Ac., Dipl. Ac. on April 4th, 2012

If you have come to see me as a patient, you know how I generally feel about salads eaten in Winter (due to them being cold in nature). Many of you have even had your own salad fast. But the weather is warm, and pretty soon the Farmer’s Markets will be open for business! It is Spring! You have my blessing to eat salad! In this article I will discuss several ingredients that are healthy and will spruce up a tired salad.

The Greens

Get creative with your greens! There are all sorts of textures and flavors. For bite, add arugula or mustard greens. Endive and radicchio are bitter and are wonderful to beat the heat when it really starts to heat up! Butter lettuce and baby spinach are more mild. For a little pop of color, try a red leaf. Frisee has a wild texture and will add a nice crunch to your salad. Most farmer’s markets will have their own seasonal mix-so try that out! And of course you can always get a bag of mixed mesclun greens at your local grocery.


Nuts are a wonderful source of protein, healthy fats and enzymes. A hand full of raw cashews will help fight tooth decay and will add a soft crunch and a buttery flavor. Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, pistachios-any of your favorite nuts and seeds will do. Fresh peas have a good amount of protein and if you have no allergies to soy, tofu or tempe is yummy as well! Beans can add protein and fiber to a delicious salad. Last, but not least, any left over meat from the night before-steak, chicken, fish-can make a salad a hearty meal.

Fruits & Veggies

Dried fruit is very flavorful. About a dozen dried cherries can act as a natural analgesic! You can get creative with your dried fruits! Papaya, mango, goji berries, figs etc. Since it’s spring, fresh fruit is abundant! Berries are great at cutting down inflammation. Avacado is a favorite of mine to add in salads. It gives a creaminess to the mix and while providing nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. Cherry or heirloom tomatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, and any other of your favorite veggies will do.

Make Your Own Dressing!

Look for some recipes to make your own salad dressings that you know will have 6 or fewer ingredients! And try not to drench your salad. When it comes to a good dressing, a little will go a long way! Feel free and experiment. All you need is a fat, a liquid, and flavor. I will include a few of my favorites.

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 5-6 tablespoons oil (avocado oil, olive oil)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Creamy Cilantro Avocado

Puree in a blender:

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Orange-Walnut Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup walnut oil
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Sometimes I just add lemon juice and olive oil for a bright and fresh taste. I hope you feel inspired to get creative with your salads. There are infinite possibilities. If you have a favorite combo and/or salad dressing, feel free to share!

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