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Today is February 16, 2020

Featured Cookbook

Plated with Rebecca Turner

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner

Winter weather typically means piping hot soups, and hearty chilis are simmering in a slow-cooker. Casseroles and comfort foods usually take center stage this time of year, edging out wholesome fruits and vegetables. Long gone is the array of summer’s bountiful crops convincing consumers the harvest is over. But, just because it is sweater weather doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy seasonal salads. While there may be a smaller selection of in-season produce during the winter months, there is still plenty to build a healthy salad.

Greens are the base for traditional salads. Leafy green vegetables, regardless of the season, are an essential part of a healthy diet — the darker the green in the leaf, the more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Several dark green leafy vegetables are in season during the coldest months, including kale, spinach, endive and Mississippi’s beloved collard greens. All of winter’s greens can be eaten raw, but swap out crisp greens for sauteed leafy greens as the base of a warm winter salad. Whether you eat them raw or cooked, a winter diet rich in leafy greens helps reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline.

Set aside your stereotypical salad toppers like carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes during the winter and pile on seasonal produce. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, parsnips rutabagas or turnips can be chopped raw and make great salad toppers. Add in seasonal fruits such as apples, grapefruit, oranges, pears or tangerines for a sweet twist. Use their fresh-squeezed fruit juice to make a homemade vinaigrette. Roast a pan of sweet potatoes or winter squash and cube them to toss in with sauteed greens. Beets are beautiful, delicious and nutritious but can be a booger to prepare. Utilize canned vegetables like beets and hearts of palm to add distinct flavors without the fuss.

Make your winter salads hearty, heart-healthy and fiber-filled by including cooked whole grains, like quinoa, barley or burglar. Other fun winter salad toppings include pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, figs and pomegranate seeds. Pair salads with popular lean proteins or plant proteins like frozen edamame or canned beans. Even when your slow-cooker is filling your home with smells of comfort foods, serve it with a winter salad on the side. Whether your winter salad is warm or cold, use these ideas to keep you healthy, full and out of hibernation all winter long.

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media and online at www.theRebeccaTurner.com.

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