Savor the flavor of salad: Some Chicago suggestions

By Caryl Clem

May is National Salad Month.  Salad today is nothing like my past memories. Dining expectations of the 1950’s and 1960’s glorified home cooking producing mouthwatering spreads.  We read Woman’s Day and Family Circle to preview the featured recipes.  I can still picture the mounds of salad vegetables and fruit surrounded by various Jell-O combinations. Nothing like sugar encased salad ingredients for health and nutrition. Cookbook salad instruction included mayonnaise and cream based dressings.  In a rush to fix a filling lunch salad, just take anything out of the refrigerator such as eggs, potatoes or leftover chicken, add mayonnaise and a few extras such as mustard or pickle relish.  Salads slid down your throat.

By the 1970’s, Food and Nutrition experts are trying to warn Americans about the dangers of poor eating habits.  The wrong foods increase heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity to name a few. Carbs that taste so good in French fries, garlic bread and pasta are to be avoided.  Sugar dulls mental activity. What is left to satisfy an appetite in the good food group? Meals with half a plate filled with most vegetables and fruits according to Harvard studies.

Chicago restaurant entrepreneurs, Rich Melman with his partner Jerry Orzoff, opened the first salad bar Lettuce Entertain You, at RJ Grunts, in 1971 in Lincoln Park. Forty years later, his successful company operates many restaurants.

Salads can be satisfying, healthy, and scrumptious. A great salad has various textures and colors. Dowse you salads oil and vinegar dressings that actually aid in releasing the nutrients. I love ranch dressing so I do a light version thinned with skim milk.  Ingredient choices to balance food groups is the key to success and flavor. Dump the myth a salad is 75% lettuce, endive, or kale.  Try different bases, string beans, or grate a carrot bed topped with healthy foods you enjoy.  Better Nutrition magazine was founded by Jack Schwartz educating readers about food choices. Several articles boost about salads as a premier experience. Spoon University offers suggestions concerning the restaurants in Chicago that offer the best salad.

Feel like biting into a meal that improves your lifestyle or maintains wellness; bring out the cutting board and salad bowl. In a study conducted in by 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, these benefits were documented:

  • Eating a salad a day is directly correlated with higher nutrient levels.
  • Adding salad dressing to a salad increases the absorption of certain nutrients being consumed.
  • The fat in salad dressing helps absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • People who eat salads, salad dressing, and raw vegetables are more likely to meet recommended intakes for vitamins C, E and folic acid.
  • High fruit and vegetable consumption has also been associated with lower rates of pre-menopausal bone loss in women.
  • Consumption of as little as one serving of salad or raw vegetables per day is significantly associated with the likelihood of meeting the recommended nutrient intakes of each of vitamins A, E, B6, and folic acid.

Bon Appetite!!

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