As Mother’s Day approaches and spring comes into full bloom, now’s a great time to celebrate with fresh, healthy salads. Lots of kids are a little reluctant about those tangy radishes and spring onions - not to mention “gourmet” tastes like arugula or pepper cress! -- but these mild, slightly sweet salads are sure to please both you and your child this Mother’s Day. Each one starts with fresh, fruity ingredients to offer a taste that’s sophisticated enough to honor Mom, while colorful and appealing enough to intrigue young eaters.
For starters, here is a heart-healthy dressing with a secret ingredient: the juice from one 12-ounce can of mandarin orange sections! Mix a 1/2 cup of olive oil with the light syrup from the can to 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar. For extra zing, add 1 teaspoon each of dried onion and dried garlic bits; 1-1/2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, and salt to taste.
What You Need:
- 6 cups clean, dry baby spinach (about 6-7 ounces)
- I 12-ounce can mandarin orange slices, drained
- ½ cup fresh red raspberries (or blackberries, apples, or chopped strawberries if raspberries aren’t available in your area yet!)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breast chunks
- 5 cups clean, dry spring salad greens (about 5-6 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
- ½ cup chopped, glazed walnuts (see recipe below)
- 5 cups clean, dry spring butter lettuce greens (about 5-6 ounces)
- 1 cup pink grapefruit chunks, cut into ½” chunks
- 2 tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped mint
- ½ cup avocado, cut into ½” chunks.
What You Do:
- Baby Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Raspberries and Chicken (serves 4): Toss together the baby spinach, mandarin oranges, chicken breast and raspberries. Drizzle a vinaigrette on top for a light main course or a lunch.
- Spring Greens with Strawberries and Glazed Walnuts (serves 4): toss the spring salad greens, the strawberries and the glazed walnuts together. Drizzle with vinaigrette. For an extra gourmet touch, try adding a little goat cheese or gorgonzola—but you might want to do that plate by plate.
- Butter Lettuce with Grapefruit, Mint, and Avocado (serves 4): Toss the butter lettuce, grapefruit, mint and avocado and drizzle with vinaigrette for a great side salad!
- Glazed Walnuts (this recipe makes two cups—you’ll use ½ cup for our salad, but save the rest for other batches or for a scrumptious treat later). To make the glazed walnuts, start with 1 egg white, beaten to foamy stage. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix thoroughly, and then add 2 cups of chopped walnuts. Stir to coat the walnuts, and then place them on a cookie sheet sprayed with a light coating of oil. Bake at 275° for about 20-25 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly brown and the coating is fairly crisp (it will harden completely when the nuts have cooled). When cool, break the nuts into bits and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.