By Lori Meszaros, ASU Nutrition Communication Student
Arizona’s climate gives you an abundance of produce that can be grown year-round, making it salad time any time of the year! Adding more salads into your weekly meal plan is an easy way to add fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet. Helping you get your recommended 5 a day, and they’re not just limited to lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Gone are the days of salads only making an appearance as an appetizer or side dish. Now salads are taking center stage and filling your plate for lunch and dinner.
Having a salad every day is one of the easiest things you can do to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. These Dietary Guidelines recommend making half your plate full of fruits and vegetables, and research supports eating more fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.1,2 So why not try swapping out one meal a day for a delicious, nutrient dense salad? With all of the salad recipes to choose from on Fill Your Plate, you won’t be left feeling deprived or hungry.
Hungry for fresh local produce to put in your salad? Well, Arizona has some of the best! And you can find out what’s in season by checking out Arizona Produce in Season. Here’s one of my favorite salads I enjoy year round. It makes a great protein packed lunch or light dinner on a hot night.
- Handful of toasted walnuts*, chopped
- ¼ walnut oil, or extra virgin olive oil- whatever you have on hand
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
Add all above ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to coat. While the nuts are soaking up the seasoning chop up the following ingredients.
- 2-3 tomatoes
- 1 red sweet pepper
- 1 generous pinch of salt, about ½- 1 tsp, adjust for your taste
Chop tomatoes and sweet pepper, toss on top of walnuts then sprinkle with salt. Let the tomatoes and sweet pepper sit and rest a bit to sweat. This brings out the juice from the fruit and adds to the flavor of the salad. While the fruit is sweating, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl-
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 package of spinach, chopped
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped, about ½ cup after chopped
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils, or 1 can drained and rinsed
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed**
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Toss all ingredients until combined.
* 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked then cooked = 3 cups cooked chickpeas, same as 2 cans.
** Toasted walnuts- Heat to 375F, spread walnuts on a lined baking tray and roast for 10 minutes.
Looking for seasonal salads to enjoy for lunch or dinner? Here’s a list of yummy salads from Fill Your Plate to try for each season.
Fall & Winter
Winter & Summer
Spring & Fall
- Post, R.C, Haven, J., Maniscalco, S., & Brown, M.C. It takes a village to communicate the dietary guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2103;13(12):1589-1590.
- Moore, L.V., & Thompson, F.E. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2015;64(26):709-713.