MyPlate fits into your salad bowl

Put MyPlate into your salad bowl for a nutritious and filling meal.

Spring is here in Michigan and with it comes thoughts of those first tastes of fresh fruit and vegetables from the field, bush or tree produce. Salad is one type of dish that will make good use of these fresh foods. In fact you could put MyPlate into your salad bowl and have a nutritious and filling meal.

If you’re not familiar with MyPlate it’s a visual image (or a tool) of what types of foods make up a healthy diet laid out on a plate. You’ll find half of your plate is fruits and vegetables, while the other half is split between grain and protein foods. Plus a glass of milk right next to the MyPlate reminds us not to forget the dairy.

Here’s the first two definitions of salad according to www.dictionary.com:

1. A usually cold dish consisting of vegetables, as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, covered with a dressing and sometimes containing seafood, meat, or eggs. 2. any of various dishes consisting of foods, as meat, seafood, eggs, pasta, or fruit, prepared singly or combined, usually cut up, mixed with a dressing, and served cold: chicken salad; potato salad.

Both of these definitions describe a salad as typically a combination dish served cold and often with a dressing. Breaking that down into the individual MyPlate components every part can be represented in a salad.

  • Fruits come in several different forms, all of which are great in a salad: Fresh and dried berries and apples and oranges are frequent additions. Also, don’t forget juice could be part of the dressing.
  • Vegetables are probably one of the first foods that come to mind with the word salad. Take a minute to consider all of the leafy green possibilities: Spinach, arugula, romaine, bibb lettuce, leaf lettuce, fresh herbs, Asian greens, mustards just to name a few. Then add some more color with peppers, carrots, tomatoes, beets or radishes. The more colors you’re incorporating from fruits and vegetables the more nutrients you’re eating.
  • Grains certainly make the cut for salads – try whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries and bulgur.
  • To round out your salad include proteins like nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, lean fish and meats.
  • A sprinkling of cheese is a great topping and way to include a dairy food for calcium in your salad.
  • Add dressing to the salad and keep it lite in calories and saturated fat and high in flavor, with small amounts of flavored oils, juices, herbs, spices and flavored vinegars. The bottom of this lettuce fact sheet from the University of Illinois Extension includes several simple and tasty vinaigrette recipes.

Wondering how to begin incorporating more salads into your week? Start with what’s in season in Michigan. Some of the first local items we’ll be seeing include lettuces, spinach, garlic scapes, radishes, green onions, asparagus and strawberries. Make a list of foods in each food group that you like or would like to try and then make up your own combinations for salads. There are also unending salad recipes available online and in almost every general cookbook. One website that includes a good variety and affordable salad ingredients is the Snap-Ed Connection recipe finder. The possibilities are endless, mix up your menu with a salad today.

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