After a long, cold winter, any signs of spring are welcome. Chances are some early spring greens are popping up in your yard right now.
The dandelion leaves you struggle with make a great salad, as long as you haven’t used herbicides or pesticides on them. If eating your weeds doesn’t appeal to you, try some of the wonderful spring greens from your local grocery store.
Many spring greens are grown locally, including lettuces, spinach, dandelion greens, endive, radicchio, watercress, and even fiddlehead ferns, if you can find them. These greens are often available in a mix of different types and all are good sources of fiber and vitamins A and C.
Sometimes what appears to be a healthy salad has more fat and salt than you’d suspect—often because of the salad dressing. The average bottle of dressing has between 200–500 milligram of salt in just two tablespoons, which can make it hard to stay within the recommended limit of 2,000 milligrams a day.
Why not make your own dressing for a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the salt? These homemade dressings are easy to make and oh so flavorful.
Try serving a salad as an entree along with a bowl of homemade soup and nice, warm bread for a light dinner. You can always find delicious salt-free recipes at www.nwkidney.org.
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/2 orange, peeled and chopped
Toast sesame seeds by heating in a dry frying pan on medium heat. Grind them in blender or food processor. Shake all ingredients together in a jar, or blend. Makes 6 servings.
Calories per serving: 118, Sodium: 2 milligrams
Fresh Herb Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Add vinegar to milk, and then whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill mixture at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Stir dressing well before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition Information (per 2 tablespoons)
Calories: 106, Sodium: 100 milligrams
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
1 pint sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon liquid hot pepper seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced and then sauteed
8 ounces blue cheese or 6 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
Pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper seasoning and sauteed garlic. Blend well. Stir in blue cheese, mashing large pieces with a fork, until well blended. Add pepper to taste. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate. Store up to 10 days. Makes 2½ cups.
Calories: 77, Sodium: 75 milligrams
Low-calorie Green Goddess Yogurt Dressing
1 cup plain yogurt
1 green onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon parsley, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
Place tarragon and vinegar in a blender; let stand for 5 minutes. Add onion, parsley, anchovy paste, sugar and yogurt, and then blend until smooth. If made ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Stores for up to a week. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
Nutrition Information (serving size: 2 tablespoons)
Calories: 20, Sodium: 20 milligrams
Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards—the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition. See more recipes at www.nwkidney.org.