Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lighten Up Salads for January #TheSaladBar...Featuring Mexican Winter Salad

This month, #TheSaladBar is focusing on Lighten Up Salads…salads that pack a lot of nutrition and flavor, but not a lot of calories and fat. After a few weeks of holiday indulging, many of us are focusing on healthier eating habits this month. I’m sharing a side salad that pairs really nicely with grilled chicken or fish. My Mexican Winter Salad features fresh, vibrant flavors…and a dressing that has only 1 tbs. of olive oil. My jumping off point was a salad that I found at Cooking Light’s fantastic website. I made a few tweaks and additions to make their salad my own. 

I added dried cranberries and juicy mandarin orange segments in place of avocado, and I traded pine nuts for pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). Jicama and pomegranate arils are ingredients I don't use often in salads, giving the salad extra crunch. This colorful salad is a snap to put together, especially if you buy ready-to-use pomegranate arils and bagged chopped salad mix from the refrigerated produce section.

Mexican Winter Salad
adapted from Cooking Light
 Ingredients for two side salads:
  • 2 cups ready-to-use bagged chopped salad
  • 1/3 cup diced jicama
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils [NOTE: I used POM Wonderful POM POMs]
  • 1/2 cup diced mandarin orange segments
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbs. lime juice (approx. 1 large lime)
  • 2 tbs. pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: Add the salad blend to a large mixing bowl. Top with the rest of the salad additions. Refrigerate while you make the dressing.
Step 2: Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and drizzle on top of the salad ingredients in the bowl. Toss with tongs to combine all of the ingredients. Plate to serve.
This salad is bursting with the big flavors I love....the fact that it’s also chock full of healthy ingredients is even better! The dressing is fresh and fruity, and the salad ingredients mesh very nicely together. The tangy pomegranate arils and juicy mandarin oranges work really nicely with the earthy jicama. I could eat this salad all day and not feel the least bit guilty! To make this a main dish salad, simply add some seared jumbo shrimp or maybe cubed chicken breast. If you’re enjoying a meatless day, perhaps add crumbled cotija or feta cheese for a bit of protein.

Make sure to check out the salad creations the rest of this month’s #TheSaladBar participants are sharing. They’re all lower in calories and fat, but big on taste and nutrition. That’s a win-win combination, my friends!

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