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Dinner Diva | Turning over a new leaf

One of my favorite sayings is “turning over a new leaf,” and today as I was thinking about it, it made sense to me in a new way. It’s time we all started “turning over a new leaf,” as in lettuce and leafy greens.
Iceberg lettuce is one of the mainstays in salad making that has frustrated me for a long time. No wonder people don’t like salads, or else smother them in fatty dressings! All they know is that see-thru lettuce as the foundation for their salad. You’ve seen them before in cafeterias, restaurants and in the bag in the grocery store: hunks of insipid lettuce interspersed with thin strips of red cabbage and a wayward carrot shred or two—not too appetizing.

But we do eat this “salad” just because it’s “healthy,” or so we think. And yet the flavor is nearly nonexistent, and the texture isn’t pleasing either. I haven’t even mentioned the nutritional facts yet. With Iceberg, nearly nil. Why bother?

Forgive me for bashing a poor, defenseless head of lettuce, but I’ve got a good point here: to eat healthy doesn’t have to be a boring and tasteless experience! Even when it comes to lettuce, there are indeed other options—tasty ones in fact. So let’s literally “turn over a new leaf,” shall we? Here are some new choices for your salad foundation, with a description beside each one:

– Butterhead lettuce: Boston and Bibb are two well known types. These lettuces have round smallish heads with delicate rich flavor.
– Red Leaf lettuce: Can also be called Red Oak Leaf. A tender lettuce with dark red in the leaf and a lovely, full-flavored taste.
– Green Leaf lettuce: Can also be called Green Oak Leaf. This is a little heartier than the Red Leaf and the flavor a little more bitter.
– Romaine lettuce: Sometimes you can buy Red Romaine, but it’s less available than regular green Romaine. This is a hearty lettuce that is standard stuff for Cesar salads and stands up well to a lots of ingredients and a good tossing.

There you go—some standard lettuces to help you expand your salad repertoire. Next week, we’ll talk about some delicious salad “add ins”!

Salads are such a wonderful way to get your nutrients in—remember, the more colorful your salad, the healthier it is. Enjoy!


For more help putting dinner on your table, check out Leanne’s website,, or her Saving Dinner book series (Ballantine) and her New York Times bestselling book Body Clutter (Fireside). Copyright 2009 Leanne Ely. Used by permission in this publication.

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