Photo_ChefBrad(April2013)By Chef Bradley Cruz Assistant Executive Chef Have you had your salad today? Colorful, healthy salads top our list of go-to recipes for the summer months ahead. Salads are good for you and each season comes with its own fresh fruit and vegetables that are sure to please. Ingredients found to be particularly healthy include: beans and peas, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, apples, nectarines, peaches, plums, pears, cherries, and strawberries.

Q. How do you plan your shopping list when creating healthy summer salads? I shop for colorful fruits and vegetables, and sometimes add chicken, pork, steak or tuna, too. Salads are cool and light, you can make them ahead of time. And most salads require little, if any cooking at all, which keeps you and your home cool this summer.

Q. Why do you like to make salads in the summer? Salads are a good choice for any meal, take little planning, and you can make them as small or large as you like. They make great leftovers, too. With a variety of ingredients, salads can be a nutritional powerhouse. I use different ingredients, toppings, and dressings. I like to grill fresh fruit and vegetables and make tasty grilled salads for my family and guests.

Q. What kind of variety do you incorporate when planning the salad selections at Eastside Cannery? When incorporating salad recipes to the Eastside Cannery we like to use recipes that reach a wide variety of taste buds. Our Asian Chicken Salad is one of our most popular. (See the recipe in this article).The dressing was created by our very own Chef Julia. We also spin popular salads like Chicken Caesar by offering Grilled Shrimp & Salmon options to the classic salad. We also have monthly culinary contests and run specials with the winning recipes.

Q. Do you shop for healthy ingredients when making salads? Yes, I try to shop for healthy vegetables and fruits all the time. Making a simple change to your diet – adding a salad almost every day – can pay off with plenty of health benefits.

Q. Should eating salads be a part of a healthy diet? Doctors say that if you frequently eat green salads, you’re more likely have higher blood levels of a host of powerful antioxidants (vitamin C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene,) especially if your salad includes raw vegetables. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

Q. What suggestions do you have to get kids or picky eaters to eat more salads? Use flavorful ingredients and toppings. Salads can be cool, crunchy, and fun to eat (lots of textures, colors, and flavors). And you can make hot or cold salads even for kids. Try customizing your salads to include a variety of fruits and vegetables for everyone to choose from at the table, and use different dressings or toppings that you may have on hand.

Asian Chicken Salad

6 oz. Grilled Chicken Breast
1 oz. Cashews
1 oz. Crispy Noodles
1/2 oz. Julienne Red Peppers
1/2 oz. Mandarin Orange Segments
1/2 oz. Green Onions (Chopped)
8 oz. Napa Cabbage (Julienne)
3 oz. Asian Dressing
Toss ingredients together and top with crispy noodles.

Asian Salad Dressing

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
1 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon Mayo
1 tablespoon Tahini Paste
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Minced Ginger
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
Blend ingredients except oils.
Add oils last.