wholife logo
Wholeness & Wellness Journal
of Saskatchewan Since 1995
  Home | Events | Classifieds | Directory | Profiles | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Distribution | Our Readers | Contact

Volume 16 Issue 2
July/August 2010

Listen! Can You Hear the Buzz?

A Fresh Look at Salads

T'ai Chi Chih: Joy Through Movement

Cohousing: A New Option for Seniors

Focusing: A Self-Managed Therapy

Be One of the First in North America to Experience… Crystal Light Healing™

Primal Fire Intensive for Total Freedom to Be You


A Fresh Look at Salads
by Sandra Brandt
Sandra Brandt

Ahhhh, summer!—a time to bask in the warm sunshine, relax at the beach, plant a garden… and planting a garden or harvesting your pick of fresh and wonderful things from your local Farmers’ Market means unlimited opportunities to taste the mingled effects of sun, rain, and soil organisms. Foodwise, one of the loveliest things to eat in summer is a fresh salad. I tend not to eat raw, cooling salads in winter but a fresh-from-the-garden salad in summer—what a delight!

Salads are quite a venerable food tradition, going back as far as ancient Roman and Greek times. The word comes from the Latin root sal for salt, referring to “salt-seasoned herbs.” They were likely composed of fresh vegetables, including greens, dressed with vinegar, sometimes oil, and of course salt, which was a more precious commodity in ancient times. The modern foods we know as sauce, sausage, and salsa, also derive from the same common linguistic root. In North America, the modern idea of salads was said to have been popularized beginning in the 1800s and from there spread to other parts of the world. Many older American cookbooks were quite authoritative on the rules of salad making and partaking. For example, one is warned not to consume vinegar and wine within the same course, so one would not serve wine and a vinegar-based salad dressing together. Another trend of the past was to avoid “messy” looking salads, which is how gelatin-based salads became popular because they kept their shape well.

Naturally, salads can be composed of just about any food ingredients, not just greens. They can also be used in many ways throughout the course of a meal, from appetizer, first course, main course (in the case of a substantial and filling mixture), after the main course, or even dessert, as in fruit salad.
Salads are also prized for their well-known health-giving qualities. Even most fast food restaurants nowadays include raw vegetable and/or fruit salads on the menu in order to appeal to more health-conscious eaters.

However, there is a bit of a downside to the booming salad trend. Most salad vegetables we use year round are transported hundreds, or even thousands of miles to reach us. As Michael Pollan vividly relates in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the pre-packaged organic spring mix that is so popular on salad plates has been calculated to use 57 calories of fossil fuel energy (which includes growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting it cross-country by refrigerated truck) for each single calorie of food energy it provides. So the enlightened eater may want to focus more on salads in the season when the ingredients are fresh and close by.

As noted above regarding the origin of salads, the taste focus was actually on the seasoning, or what we now call the dressing, which often consists of just 3 main ingredients—oil, vinegar, and salt. But of course, the final product is open to infinite variations, from plain and simple to truly gourmet. Bottled dressings started to become available in the early 1900s when customers of dining establishments began requesting some of the more popular dressings to take home. However, keep in mind that the ingredients in today’s dressing products usually consist of refined processed oils, as well as chemical seasonings, thickeners, and preservatives, plus you pay for and throw away a container with each purchase. Happily, salad dressings are one of the easiest meal items to whip up from scratch from fine-quality, interesting ingredients.

Here are just a few varied examples of salad dressing ideas to build on:

Classic Oil and Vinegar Dressing
(Use only best quality oil and vinegar)

Stir to dissolve a good pinch of unrefined salt in 1/4 cup of fine natural vinegar, such as organic wine vinegar. Then beat in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add any other flavourings/ingredients you may want.

Miso Dressing
(Tangy and nutty tasting)

2 tsp miso paste (any kind—darker miso will yield a saltier and more flavourful dressing, while lighter miso will be lighter tasting—both options are good!)
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unrefined sesame oil
10–20 strokes grated fresh ginger root (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender to get a creamy smooth-textured dressing for green salad.

Honey Lemon Green Dressing
(A sweet blended dressing)

Add ingredients one at a time to a measuring cup:
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
1/8 tsp unrefined salt

Then add parsley leaves, pressing them into the mixture, until the you have one cup full. Blend in blender until smooth.

Yogurt Mint Dressing/Sauce
(Nice on fresh fruit salad!)

Measure 1 cup plain yogurt. In a bowl, dissolve 1 tbsp liquid honey in a small amount of the yogurt. Stir the rest of the yogurt in gently and gradually, along with a pinch unrefined salt, and some fresh, finely-chopped mint leaves (may substitute 1 tsp dried mint).

Sour Cream & Onion Dip
(Excellent with a tray of garden peas, sliced fresh cucumbers, and new carrots)
Stir gently into one 500 gr container sour cream: 1 tbsp natural soy sauce, 1 tsp onion powder. Optional: dried or fresh herbs, su­­ch as chopped dill & chives.

Caesar Salad
(Much lighter and fresher tasting than the conventional offering)

Rub salad bowl generously with a split garlic clove. Remove garlic.
Add: 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp natural soy sauce, 3 tbsp olive oil. Beat with a fork until smooth and creamy. Boil an egg for one minute. Break into dressing and stir vigourously to combine. Tear up 1 large head romaine lettuce into bowl and toss. Garnish with croutons etc., as desired.
—Adapted from American Wholefoods Cuisine

References: Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Penguin Books, 2007; Nikki and David Goldbeck, American Wholefoods Cuisine, Penguin Books, 1983; www.foodreference.com/html/art-salad-dressings.html; www.foodtimeline.org/foodsalads.html.

Sandra Brandt has had a lifelong interest in whole natural foods. She is located in Regina, where she gives cooking classes, presentations, and dietary consultations. She can be reached via email: brandt.s@sasktel.net or phone (306) 359-1732. Also see the colour display ad on page 13 of the 16.2 July/August issue of the WHOLifE Journal.


Back to top

Home | Events | Classifieds | Directory | Profiles | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise
Distribution | From Our Readers | About WHOLifE Journal | Contact Us | Terms Of Use | Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2000- - Wholife Journal. All Rights Reserved.