Balanced Meals Through Fresh Foods

We often hear that the best nutrition filled meals come from a balanced diet. In other words proper portions of a wide variety of foods. One of the finest, healthiest ways of consuming and enjoying wonderful nutritiously tantalizing meals is to eat foods fresh and raw in a salad.

My favorite salads not only have a wide variety of flavors, textures and colors, but also include a few ounces of seafood, chicken, pork or beef.

Today's suggestion for oriental salad will include grilled chicken, but you may substitute with some grilled seafood or beef at your pleasure. The highlighted flavor will be of oranges, a deliciously sweet and tart flavor that goes well with so many of our foods.

Oriental Salad with Cashews and Orange Sesame Vinaigrette
Serves 4

12 ounces seasoned, grilled and sliced chicken breast
1/3 cup whole cashews, toasted
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup Napa cabbage, finely sliced
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup organic spring greens
3/4 cup organic baby spinach
3 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°, spread cashews and a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes remove from oven and set aside. Be careful not to over do this.

Cut off 1/4 inch of the top and bottom of each orange, in this fashion they will sit upright on your cutting board. Trim away all of the skin and carefully cut out each segment. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the Napa cabbage, spring greens and baby spinach toss with the Orange Sesame Vinaigrette and divide evenly among four plates. Top each with mushrooms, cashews, orange segments and chicken, garnish with the green onion. Enjoy!

Orange Sesame Vinaigrette

1 Tbl soy sauce
2 tsp Rice vinegar
2 Tbl fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

In a blender or food processor add the soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, ginger, black pepper, sugar, Tabasco and garlic, process until well blended. With motor running slowly add the peanut and sesame oils in a thin stream until the mixture is emulsified. If you find the above to be too few ingredients to effectively use a blender or food processor use a garlic press to crush the garlic and a wire whisk with a medium-sized stainless steel bowl to blend in all the ingredients and emulsify the oils.

I hope you are incorporating salads into your meal routine at least 5 or 6 times per week. Make an effort to keep the ingredients on hand for a good variety of greens and veggies as well as the makings for your own dressings. Remember, for each salad/meal 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing, tossed with the greens, should be sufficient. You can be assured that the resulting meal is highly nutritious and well balanced.

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