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!!

Clif Pro Team Athlete, Hannah Rae Finchamp talks about biking safety

We still have the old movies. I watched them today. My father couldn’t wait to film me riding my first blue and white bike with hand brakes; one of my favorites sports during childhood. Always smiling with excitement, as I watch the now converted movies from 8 millimeter to DVD, trying to wave at the camera as I flew by, faster and faster.

When my two children were young, I remember my neighbor buying beautiful bikes for them that I could not afford at the time. How they loved their bikes and neighbor who has passed away. And all of us still ride today. Choosing special days, especially this month, to ride for local errands instead of driving a car. Though sometimes I need reminders on how I can prepare for the best quality ride as I age or mature for a better word!

May is National Bike Month. Throughout the Chicago area, riders encourage a car-free commute, experiencing the joys and benefits of bicycling to work and school. One wholesaler, Clif Bar and Company, provides nothing but organic food and drink that inspire energy while celebrating this month.

At Clif, they are truly passionate about food that creates healthy adventure when hiking or cycling. Clip helps to support an adventurous community of athletes including Clif Pro Team Athlete, Hannah Rae Finchamp. Part of the Pro Team’s youth movement, Hannah Rae came to the squad in 2013 through the sport of XTERRA where she is a two-time amateur world champion (winning these titles – overall, not age group – at ages 16 and 17(!) respectively)

Hannah offers some great suggestions to improve everyone’s personal bike ride:

1. There is never a bad time to start. Cycling is what we like to call a “life sport” meaning you can do it at any time and in all phases of life. While many college athletes are forced to hang up their equipment after school, many people are purchasing bikes later in life as a way to commute and to exercise. Start small and plan it out.The less experience you have on two wheels the more time you should spend planning, mapping, and researching. There is no better way to ruin a ride than to end up lost and without water 20 miles away. At the beginning, leave yourself wanting more and as you become more and more comfortable allow yourself to experience the freedom that cycling can bring.

2. I think the biggest pain point of riding to work has to do with preparedness. Find a small and comfortable bag that you can pack all your essentials in. Camelbak has some perfect options. Make a plan as to where to store your bike during the work day. Does your office have a space where you can store it? If not, purchase a light weight and strong bike lock that you can travel with wherever you go. Finally, during the winter months, make sure you have lights that you can turn on for the commute home.

3. Always wear a helmet. That is rule number 1, and frankly there is never an excuse to break it. The helmet isn’t necessarily because you will crash, it’s there to protect you from everyone else.

See attached flow chart for riding on the road suggestions.

4. The biggest suggestion I can make for the road is to purchase some high quality bike lights.There is no price to be put on safety. I spent many days during my college career riding at 5:30 am and my bike lights were the only thing that gave me peace of mind that I was safe. I would recommend a 700 lumen front light and a red, blinking rear taillight.

5. Nutrition and hydration are key. The longer the ride the more fuel you will need. Make sure you have a bottle cage on your bike and a bottle that you can drink out of while riding. Especially if you are new to exercise you’ll find yourself hungrier than usual. Don’t give into the vending machine at work, pack yourself some sort of quality snack for after your ride. A Clif Builder Protein Bar would be perfect to give you the nutrients you need and to keep you satiated until lunch time.