Salads are never all that tempting to me in the winter. I always want hot, steamed vegetables, or vegetables soups... but in the summer there are so many in-season, colourful fruits and vegetables. All it takes is tossing a plethora of fresh, wholesome foods into a bowl, and you can have a healthy and creative meal every time you eat. Salads don't have to be just vegetables, in fact I prefer when they aren't. You want to throw in some healthy fats and some protein. I think it's a really wise idea to keep fresh foods in glass containers in the fridge, so that you can toss a few handfuls of things into a bowl for your meal. Keep some legumes (like chickpeas, edamame, black beans), different kinds of cheeses (feta, goat cheese, cheddar), fruit (pears, apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries, blackberries), vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts), nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, chestnuts) and proteins (bbq chicken, shrimp, hard boiled eggs, tuna, steak, tofu, bacon). There are ENDLESS options. If you keep many of these ingredients on-hand, each salad can be a completely different meal. The other day I made one with chicken (tossed in balsamic and oregano), goat cheese, roasted peppers, pears and walnuts, with a mixture of romaine and mixed greens.

When you have all these amazing flavours and variations, you don't need very much dressing. BUT, should you like to add some dressing, I recommend using a homemade one. My mother makes the best salad dressing: 1 part vinegar (balsamic works well) to two parts olive oil (you can use a bit less if there is a lot of cheese / nuts in your salad already to keep fat lower), salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of basil, 1/2 - 1 tsp of dijon mustard to act as an emulsifier, and 1 tsp of pure maple syrup. Wisk it up and you're all set! It makes a huge difference to have a homemade dressing vs. some of the crazy stuff they put in the packaged versions.

Salads make healthy eating very easy. You want as much nutritional bang for your buck. This is a great way to get in many different vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein in one bowl. You will feel full, satisfied, and be baring your abs in no time!

An important sidenote: They're OH-SO-PRETTY to look at! Serve them for your friends.