Six great spring salads

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Are you yearning for spring weather yet? Those of us north of the 49th parallel (or even close to it) are beginning to feel the wear and tear of winter around now. I mean, I’ve had my fill of snow and ice, scarf-and-gloves temperatures or frost on the windowpane each morning.  Seriously, it’s all just so. . . .last season.

Well, one surefire way to boost your mood in the final dark and muddy days before spring decides to grace us with its presence—not to mention keeping your metabolism revved for all the warm weather to come—is to focus on bright, crisp, crunchy salads.  A big plate or bowl full of fresh produce bursting with color, flavor and supercharged nutrition is just the ticket when you’re feeling those post-winter blues. . . or grays.

Some of the best green options for springy salads include mixed baby greens (such as mesclun mix), arugula (also known as rocket), fresh fava beans (a real treat in some areas!), asparagus, avocado, mint, sweet peas, watercress and spinach. And don’t forget all the rest of the color spectrum in fruits and veggies such as apricots, cherries, grapefruit, radishes and strawberries.

If you’re looking for some springtime inspiration, here are six fabulous picks for brilliant spring salads:

Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese: This super-simple combo from Bon Appetit magazine combines fresh peas, pea shoots and radishes with a sprinkling of feta cheese. If you prefer a dairy-free option, sub this almond feta instead of the dairy version.

Shaved Asparagus Salad. If you’ve never tried raw asparagus, you’re in for a real treat. This mixture combines thin slivers of asparagus, romaine and juicy grapefruit with toasted hazelnuts in a grapefruit-tarragon dressing. Spring on a plate!

Quinoa Spring Salad: All the colors of the rainbow offer incredible nutritional value in this sweet pea-red pepper-green onion-pistachio medley tossed with quinoa.

Mixed Greens with Tangerines and Shaved Fennel: I was never a fan of fennel until I tried it raw. If you feel the same way, give this mostly-green and raw salad a try.

Fruity Spinach Salad: This salad offers a cornucopia of spinach, springy fruits, and brown rice with the unusual addition of fresh cherries, too. Pretty and nutritious all in one.

Avocado and Fava Bean Quinoa Salad: This colorful dish combines avocado and favas with seasonal radishes and micro greens for a full-meal salad.  And there’s nothing quite like fresh fava beans.

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By: Ricki Heller

Ricki Heller is a whole foods chef, TV personality and author of the Canadian bestseller Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar (one of only three cookbooks endorsed on Ellen DeGeneres’ website) as well as three e-cookbooks. She has appeared on Canada AM, Breakfast Television and appears regularly to discuss healthy eating on Rogers’ Daytime and In the Know. She writes the popular food blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where she chronicles her ongoing challenges with candida, offers entertaining anecdotes about life, shares sugar-free, vegan, whole-foods recipes and provides a platform for her two chatty lab-border collie cross dogs, Elsie and Chaser. She lives near Toronto with her husband and two “girls.”