Janet's Notebook
Lighten Things Up in 2012 With Tasty Salad Ideas


Easy Avocado Citrus Salad


“Food is an important part of a balanced diet,” once quipped author Fran Lebowitz. I love this quote. In fact, I have it printed out and stuck up on my fridge (with my favorite magnet.) Food plain makes me happy, and I vote we celebrate it... instead of fearing it.

And if we get in the practice of celebrating what we eat, it's darn important that what we prepare be good for us AND tasty, don't you think? Our friend Lynn Socko, a home cook from San Angelo, TX, knows a thing or two about the challenges of finding that balance. "It's always been a struggle for me to find a balance between healthy cooking/eating and those hard to resist meals that are not so good for you. I LOVE flavor," she explains in her online Just A Pinch discussion group, Cooking Healthy. "I wanted to be part of a group that could identify with these struggles, could offer support to each other, and could share healthy, tasty recipes and ideas." And that's just what has happened!

So many of us can relate to Lynn's struggles and are eager beavers about sharing our own personal stories and tips. In fact, thanks to the efforts of folks like Lynn, Just A Pinch has seen a delicious wave of inventive, lighter recipes being shared... reinventions of decadent favorites and unique takes on new, healthy eats.

Salads, for example, were once thought of as something to "suffer" through. No longer! Now, there are SO many great ways to jazz up traditional salads... to the point where they become downright cravable. Nikki Smith's recipe for Avocado Citrus Salad is a perfect example. "I love Avocados!!!" says the Hemet, CA cook. "So why not have a nice refreshing avocado salad? You can also use tomatoes like I did." Toss with romaine lettuce, red onions, fresh orange and a simple dressing of oil, sugar and lime for a crisp, creamy dream of a salad that is a perfect light lunch all on its own.

Busy mom Leslie Holt of Franklin, TN adds a bit of unexpected crunch to her favorite salad in the form of sauteed walnuts and Ramen noodles! The otherwise straightforward salad recipe is a joy to serve, as guests will unfailingly marvel at the creative (and yummy) additions. "This recipe is super easy to make," explains Leslie. The oil and red wine vinegar dressing has an added punch from the addition of soy sauce. And for an even kickier flavor, Leslie suggests using flavored wine vinegars.

Still not convinced that salads are the new comfort food? Then you've simply got to grab a fork and dig into Kelly Phillips' amazing Rice Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette! This addictive salad comes sans lettuce, but packed with rich flavors of honey, cumin, soy, citrus and fresh green onion. With a base of basmati rice that's been cooked in chicken stock, this dish is no slouch on flavor. "This is an incredible salad to serve with grilled Tilapia," says Kelly. She particularly loves serving this salad at parties because it's served at room temperature... no worrying about it getting too warm or too cold. Top with lemon zest and almonds for a healthy and filling bite.

Over the years I've come to find that winter is THE perfect time to begin introducing these kinds of fresh flavors into our meals. When it's cold outside and the skies just can't seem to shake that gray blanket of clouds, fresh fruits and veggies are a ray of sunshine in the day. Dress 'em up for the celebration with one of these delicious dressings, and you'll have a healthy meal that just begs to be eaten.



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40 Comments
adorefood
NIKKI SMITH - Jan 15, 2012
Thanks so much ladies, sorry for such a slow response but my computer had some hiccups in it..lol Much Love to you all..:)
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 15, 2012
Thanks, Sara for your ideas. The apples and the walnuts reminded me of my Mom's Waldorf salad she made every Christmas. So I guress I got thinking as a young wife, that I could only make it at Christmas time. The crazy things we think when we are young!!! lol !! I think that I'll dig out her recipe and make it this winter-time but subistute greek yogurt for the sour cream & mayonaise to make it healthier and lower in calories.
dsayless
sara foehner - Jan 15, 2012
always add chopped apples or pears to my salads--am going to try the hint about walnuts with them next time
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 14, 2012
I'm so sorry to hear of all your problems, Peg. No I'd never stop the meds, but aloe capsules really do help to soothe the stomach. I doubt if they'd interfere with your meds but you can always ask your dr. And yes, it comes in liquid form too. I usually always get the aloe that says whole leaf aloe. Good luck.
DenaE
Dena Elwood - Jan 14, 2012
Ahhhh YES Sis, they sure did...THANKS Righbackatcha too...
BTW, i too have heard of ediable aloe.. In fact I use to know a man who'd buy this jug type container from a health food place and drink a glass of it a day... Odd huh...I do believe I'm okay with just my coffee and creamer :0) Hugsss and Prayers DE
scrapgran
Peg Barker - Jan 14, 2012
Kathleen, I've never heard of edible Aloe. Can I take it while I'm on acid reflux medication? I'm a bit nervous to stop the meds completely before knowing if the Aloe will work for me. I'm not kidding when I say I had full on heart attack symptoms before we knew what it was. The pain was horrendous.
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 14, 2012
Peg, Have you tried Aloe??? It's wonderful on Acid-reflux. I like Naturecity.com but you can go to any health food store or maybe even Walmart & find it.
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 14, 2012
You'e most welcome Dena. Sending hugs all the way to Iowa. hope they make it thru this wintry blasts. lol!!
DenaE
Dena Elwood - Jan 14, 2012
And thank you Kathleen for your sweet comment... Its an honor to help encourage each other... Hugsssss DE
scrapgran
Peg Barker - Jan 14, 2012
Kathleen and Karen - thank you both for responding. I will try both your ideas. Karen I don't like a lot of pepper either. I've had stomach problems for several years and in spite of medication I still have some serious acid reflux attacks if I'm not very careful. Those attacks fooled me and the paramedics into thinking I was having a heart attack until the ER docs finally thought about acid reflux. No fun at all. I look forward to trying the different spices. Karen, thanks for giving me a list of spices and what to try them on. Other people told me to use spices but didn't tell me which was good with what. That's a huge help. I will for sure let you know how it goes. Again, you have my thanks.
TNSunshiine
Karen Van Patten - Jan 14, 2012
@peg, I know what you're talking about! Although I am not allergic to garlic, I am allergic to bell peppers, which seem to be in every recipe. My suggestion for you is to try adding different seasonings, such as thyme, sage, rosemary, etc., to your recipes that call for garlic. Thyme is good with beans and beef, sage is great with chicken and turkey, rosemary rocks pork and lamb, and dill is great with salmon and other fish. But don't let that list limit you, I love rosemary on many items; tarragon is another good spice to play around with. If you like pepper (I don't, but that's neither here nor there), there are lots of good pre-made seasoning blends on the market, like Mrs. Dash. They are going after the salt-free market, but they add zip to anything you put them in. Good luck! Post again and let us know which spices have become your favorite!
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 12, 2012
@ Peg, I do alot of Cajun cooking. And even though they do use garlic, it is second to the Cajun Trinity. Have you heard of that???? (onions, celery & green peppers- those are the bells not the hot ones) Almost all recipes start with the trinity and then just add garlic if it is necessary. The trinity adds a lot of flavor to almost any recipe. And the longer you cook it, the more the flavore develop and blend. You might try it. Also have you heard of Beano. If you take one before eating, it will help with stomach distress. You can find it at health-food stores & I believe also Walmart.
scrapgran
Peg Barker - Jan 12, 2012
I'm wondering if someone can help me, I'm severly allergic to garlic! What a crummy thing to be allergic to as there's garlic in nearly everything. Does anyone know of something else I can use to add flavor to my cooking? My husband says nothing tastes good anymore. I can't eat peppers because of stomach problems!
Thanks
Kathianne
Kathleen Nicholson - Jan 12, 2012
@Dena, You certainly have a wonderful way with words. I agree with you whole heartfully.
kkmilan
kareena kapoor - Jan 12, 2012
I have a recipe of tandoori chicken.

and this is kareena