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Healthy Home Cooking

Hi! Thanks for joining us in the kitchen again, where we are giving you food for thought as well as food recipes that are easy, healthy and tasty! Enjoy!

Most adults aren’t getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables in their diet, so let’s look at greens and salads. They are quick and easy to prepare, and can be either a side or main dish. And salads can be a powerhouse of nutrition.

There is so much more than Iceberg lettuce! Most of the following salad
greens provide beta-carotene, vitamins C,A, and K, folate, calcium and iron in varying amounts. Darker color means more nutrients.

Arugula: The peppery and slightly bitter flavor will enliven an otherwise boring salad. Some supermarkets sell it in small bunches, which can also be lightly braised. But it’s most commonly combined with other greens in a spring salad mix.

Belgian Endive: These crunchy, slightly bitter leaves are often used to make hors d’oeuvres, but they can also be chopped and added to salads, or braised to make an exquisite (and expensive) side dish. Select heads with yellow tips; those with green tips are more bitter. Peak season is the late fall and winter.

Bibb Lettuce: The only downside to this delicate and flavorful butterhead variety is that it’s usually expensive.

Boston Lettuce: Another butterhead lettuce with soft, tender leaves. It’s terrific in salads and sandwiches, or the leaves can be used as a bed for other dishes.

Cress: A peppery green that’s great in salads, sandwiches, and soups. It’s attractive enough to make a good garnish as well. There are several varieties, including watercress, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress. Cress is highly perishable, so try to use it as soon as possible after you buy it.

Curly Endive: Try this crisp, bitter green in salads or cook it as a side dish. The outer leaves are somewhat bitter; the pale inner leaves are more tender and mild. Don’t confuse this with Belgian endive, which the British call chicory and the French call endive.

Romaine Lettuce: Familiar from Caesar salad, this combines good flavor and crunch with decent shelf life in the refrigerator. Green romaine is the most common variety, but you can sometimes find red romaine, which is more tender.

Spinach: Spinach is versatile and packed with nutrients. Toss it raw into salads, or cook it briefly to make a side dish or soup.

Spring Salad Mix: Commercial mixes usually include arugula, mizuna, tat soi, frisee, oakleaf, red chard, mustard greens, and radicchio.

As far as salads, be creative! Go beyond lettuce, tomato, carrot and cucumber and think of any fresh vegetables that you enjoy: peppers, beets, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower. Then really mix it up and add fruit: pineapple chunks, raisins, melon, oranges and grapes. A handful of heart-healthy nuts loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will enrich your salad even more. For a main dish you can add your proteins: lean beef, poultry, beans, and fish. And don’t forget calcium-rich cheeses and cottage cheese!

When dressing your salad remember to dress, not drown! A two-cup serving of salad should have about one tablespoon of dressing. You will be surprised to find that if you add seasoning and spices to your salad you will improve the flavor so much that you won’t miss the extra dressing. So remember fresh herbs, garlic, and black pepper. Try one of these salads and see what your taste buds may have been missing!


1/2 cup Kraft fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup no-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons unsweetened orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 cups fresh torn spinach leaves, stems removed & discarded
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup (11-ounce can) mandarin oranges, rinsed & drained
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) sliced toasted almonds

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, poppy seeds, orange juice, and ginger. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, combine spinach, strawberries, oranges and almonds. For each serving, place 1 1/3 cups salad mixture on a salad plate and drizzle a full 2 tablespoons dressing over top. Serve at once.

Serves 6 – Each serving equals: 116 Calories, 4gm Fat, 4gm Protein, 16gm Carb, 214mg Sodium, 96mg Calcium, 3gm Fiber
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 1/2 Fruit, 1/2 Starch/Carb Carb Choices: 1


1 cup diced 97% fat-free ham
2 cups (one 16-ounce can) whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained
10 ounces (16-ounce can) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup Kraft Fat Free Catalina Dressing
1/4 cup chunky salsa
1 teaspoon chili seasoning
3 cups finely shredded lettuce

In a large bowl, combine ham, corn, kidney beans and onion. In a small bowl, combine Catalina dressing, salsa and chili seasoning. Add dressing mixture to ham mixture. Mix gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. For each serving, place 1/2 cup shredded lettuce on a plate and spoon about 3/4 cup salad mixture over top.

Serves 6 – Each serving equals: 178 Calories, 2g Fat, 10gm Protein, 30gm Carbs, 483mg Sodium, 26mg Calcium, 6g Fiber
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch, 1 Meat, 1 Vegetable Carb Choices: 2

We hope you enjoyed our time together in the kitchen. Remember, if you’d like us to revise one of your family favorites so it’s healthier, send your request to: Healthy Exchanges PO Box 80, DeWitt, IA 52742. Also, be sure to visit our website at for more information about the only national food newsletter for diabetics, heart/cholesterol concerns, and healthy weight loss. Until next time . . .