Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Very Berry Salad

When it's hot and humid, you don't want to eat heavy foods, but still need the dose of nutrition your body is craving, right? Summertime salads are a favorite of mine for one reason, berries are completely in season and the cool, sweet burst from these little flavor morsels compliments the heat of the day. 

Berries are typically very healthful little nuggets packing an antioxidant punch. Blackberries in particular shine in the health department. Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, have low sodium and have only 62 calories to a cup.

The dark blue/purple color indicates blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers, are a huge bonus, but be aware the berries are best consumed in their natural state to get the full benefits.

PS--Another great tip to save you time in the kitchen? While you are making your dinner salad, put a lunch to-go container next to your large serving bowl and fill it up as you fix dinner. 
My recipe of the week features two health-giving berries that are in season, blackberries and raspberries. I've paired them with sweet, yet nutty pecans, cool cucumbers and spicy chives. Pair this great summer salad with the lean protein of your choice. I used lean venison steak, simply spiced and grilled. Enjoy! 

Very Berry Summer Salad

1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
½ cup toasted pecans
3 TBSP chopped chives
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups of spring greens 

Step One: Chop your romaine lettuce by cutting off the bottom then slicing vertically four times, quartering it. Then chop horizontally. Wash well. 
Step Two: Make dinner salad prep easier by layering your ingredients in a very large and shallow serving bowl. You'll be able to toss the ingredients together so much easier and then serve it into smaller bowls for your family. Add the spring greens to the mix at this point and toss a few times to combine. 
Step Three: Cut your cucumbers into bite sized pieces. Many times you'll see the cucumber cut into discs, but they are little difficult to eat in a salad. 
Here's a better way: peel and cut the cucumber in half, vertically. 
Step Four: Cut the cucumber into fourths, by slicing down the middle of the halves and then place the seed side down on the cutting board. 
Step Five: Finally, cut the cucumber horizontally into bite sized pieces. 
Step Six: Next, chop your chives into small pieces using either a knife and cutting board or kitchen shears work well too! 

Step Seven: Wash your berries well by placing them in a deep bowl with a little splash of white vinegar and cold water. This helps get any dust and dirt left over from the farm out of the gentle flesh of the berries without crushing them. Add them to the top of your pretty salad. 
Step Eight: To finish the salad, toast pecans in a heavy bottomed skillet in the oven. 300 degrees for 10 minutes should do the trick. Don't want to turn the oven on? Raw pecans are not only safe to eat, but very delish on their own. 
Divide the salad up into two bowls with your lean protein of choice and enjoy! This salad goes perfectly with the salad dressing I show you how to make here LIVE on WBKB: http://youtu.be/D0vElZ6FvRM
Kelly Lake
Administration Director & Healthy Food Enthusiast 
Bay Athletic Club
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