The combination of warmer weather and fresh garden vegetables makes summer the perfect time for a healthy salad.
Studies show that the health benefits from following a daily diet that focuses on an intake of fruit and vegetables include weight loss, lowered insulin secretion and reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Here are three simple and salad recipes to enjoy this summer:
Strawberry, Avocado and Arugula Salad
For dressing, in a blender combine 1 cup of strawberries, 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. honey, 1 1/2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cover and blend until smooth. If desired, cover and chill up to 48 hours.
Arrange 5 ounces of fresh baby arugula on a large platter. Top with 1 cup strawberries, 1 avocado (halved, seeded, peeled and chopped) and 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion. Before serving, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Whisk 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 2 Tpsb. white wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper together in a large bowl. Add 2 English cucumbers (halved and thinly sliced) and 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion; toss to coat.
Fresh Green Bean Salad
Using 1 pound of fresh green beans, snap each bean into 2 or 3 pieces. In a microwave-safe dish, combine beans and 2 Tbsp. water; cover. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) 6 to 7 minutes or just until crisp-tender but still vibrant green, stirring once. Drain. Rinse well with cold water; drain well.
In a large bowl, toss green beans with 1 large sweet pepper (chopped), 10 ounces of cooked and shelled edamame and 1/2 cup scallions.
For dressing, in a screw-top jar combine 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. canola oil, 2 Tbsp. honey, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1/8 tps. salt and 1-2 dashes of hot pepper sauce. Cover and shake well. Pour dressing over vegetables; toss to combine. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.
Heritage Woods of Yorkville, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 242 Greenbriar Road, Yorkville, IL 60560, 630-882-6502, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsyorkville