by Pam Powell (aka The Salad Girl)

First of all, choose your salad ingredients and dressings that are made local, Certified Organic or grown close to home, and without any preservatives or additives.  Opt for”real” foods including fresh fruits, greens, steamed vegetables-legumes, wild caught fish, and preservative, nitrate and hormone free meats and local cheeses roasted nuts and dried fruit without sulfites.

Get your salad off to a good nutritional start by making a bed of leafy dark green vegetables. Lettuce is the traditional favorite, but stay away from the iceberg variety. Its lighter color gives it away as being low on nutritional value. Choose instead romaine, green and Red  leaf lettuces- (I love the local Minn. and live  Bushel Boy red and green leaf lettuce! I mix this with my other favorites: Watercress: Not only is this peppery green full of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and lutein. Arugula: part of the cruciferous family of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) Why that’s important: These veggies keep you smart. Women who eat the most from this food family score the same on brain tests as women who are two years younger. Plus, cruciferous vegetables can turn on a cancer-fighting substance in your body that makes prostate, breast and colon cancer cells die. Spinach: Its ingredients include magnesium, a nutrient most of us don’t get enough of. The trouble with not getting enough magnesium? You feel wimpy, because your muscles — not to mention your heart and intestines — need it to function properly. Your brain loves this green, too: People who eat three or more servings of spinach slow mental decline due to aging by as much as 40 percent. Other leafy greens that help here: Dandelion greens, Mache, all varieties of  kale and collards.

All of these varieties are excellent sources of Vitamins A, E and K. Vitamin A supports eye and respiratory health, and makes sure the immune system is up to speed. It keeps the outer layers of tissues and organs healthy, and promotes strong bones, healthy skin and hair, and strong teeth. Vitamin E slows the aging process, maintains positive cholesterol ratios, provides endurance boosting oxygen, protects lungs from pollution, prevents various forms of cancer, and alleviates fatigue. Vitamin K keeps blood vessels strong and prevents blood clots.

Greens are also excellent sources of folate, manganese, chromium, and potassium. Folate prevents heart disease, defends against intestinal parasites and food poisoning, promotes healthy skin, and helps maintain hair color. Manganese keeps fatigue away, helps muscle reflexes and coordination, boosts memory, and helps prevent osteoporosis. Chromium helps normalize blood pressure and insulin levels. It prevents sugar cravings and sudden drops in energy. Potassium regulates the body’s water balance and normalizes heart rhythms. It aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain.

Other green veggies offering big nutritional bangs are broccoli, green peppers, parsley, zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, okra, arugula, and sea vegetables.

Paint Rainbows all over your Greens!

Load up your salad bowl with yellow vegetables like carrots, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, and yellow summer squash.Nectarines, peaches, apricots -These are super rich in beta carotene, and vitamins A and C. They are powerful free radical scavengers that prevent damage to cells. Free radicals are thought to be responsible for clogged arteries and heart disease, cataracts, blood vessel damage, inflammatory diseases and arthritis, asthma, and even cancer. Vitamin C plays a big role in the formation of collagen, which is important for the growth and repair of body-tissue cells, gums, blood vessels, bones, and teeth. It helps keep the skin young and supple so wrinkles don’t develop.

Purple and Blue! Antioxidants-  Blueberries, plums, purple and red grapes , fresh zante currants- concord grapes- fresh figs-cabbage, purple endive, and eggplant are rich in the phytonutrient anthocyanin, another type of flavonoid that fights the damage to cells that comes from daily living. Besides making the salad look absolutely gorgeous, purple cabbage is able to signal genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process that eliminates harmful compounds from the body. This means free radicals, carcinogens, and toxins are disarmed and cleared from organs and tissues. Studies have shown that people who eat the most cruciferous vegetables like purple cabbage and broccoli have a much lower risk of several cancers including breast cancer. These veggies promote gastrointestinal health, and a clean and healthy liver. They keep away ulcers, and even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease through the ability of anthocyanins to protect brain cells against the damage caused by amyloid-beta protein.

Be sure to include some red in the salad. Along with being rich in vitamin C, tomatoes provide high levels of the carotenoid lycopene, known for preventing and fighting prostate cancer. Coumaric and chlorogenic acids found in tomatoes help keep lungs healthy even in  nitrates can be blocked by adding tomatoes. Beets are another great red choice. Throughout history they have been used to detoxify and build the blood. Beets are high in folic acid, iron, and calcium. They contain betaine, a compound that detoxifies the liver and protects the liver and bile ducts from free radical damage. Studies show betaine contributes to coronary and cerebral artery health, and shrinks tumors.

Other red veggies and fruits with big nutritional powers are a variety of apples, plums, red grapes, red pears, pomegranates!(super fruits!) radishes, red bell peppers, chili peppers, red onions, and radicchio.

Many white foods are wastelands of nutrition. Not so for veggies. Cauliflower has many of the nutrients of other cruciferous vegetables. Onions and garlic are considered super foods for their potent health benefits that include high amounts of sulfur that protect collagen and connective tissues. Sulphur helps keep joints working well and hair looking shiny and healthy. Onions are considered a prebiotic, meaning they feed the probiotic bacteria and yeast in the intestinal tract. Both onion and garlic are known for lowering blood sugar levels and fighting inflammation, as well as having strong antibiotic properties that can be used to fight infections. They lower high cholesterol and blood pressure, help prevent heart attack and stroke, reduce colon cancer risk, and halt tumor growth.

Other white foods that go great in a healthy salad are mushrooms, jicama, and daikon.
If you have time to grow your own greens-this is a great info site!

By Zsuzsy Bee http://hubpages.com/hub/HowGrow-Salad-Greens

another great resource for fresh green info:

 The Frugal Cafe!

http://www.frugal-cafe.com

 Leafy Greens and Lettuces Directory

There are so many varieties of edible leafy greens and lettuces. If you’re not familiar with the many varieties of leafy greens and lettuces available, the list below, while not yet complete, links to useful greens information and photographs. To see all listings, go to Going Green: All About Leafy Greens and Lettuces | Profiles of Leafy Greens & Lettuces
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Arugula

Baby Beet Greens

Butterhead Lettuce

Cress

Endive

Escarole

Frisée

Iceberg Lettuce

Looseleaf Lettuce

Mâche

Mizuna

Oakleaf

Radicchio

Romaine

Spinach

Tat Soi

Turnip Greens