On bleak winter days, salads can bring both color and nutrients to your plate. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and winter citrus are a good combination for taste, health and appetizing eye appeal.

Spinach may be used raw in salads or cooked and used as a vegetable or as part of an entree. Fresh spinach that has been picked recently has the most folate, an important B vitamin that may help prevent cancer and heart disease. Romaine lettuce is also a good source of folate. Raw spinach also is a good source of vitamin A, and provides lutein and other carotenoids linked to eye health. It also is a rich source of iron and vitamin C.

Some varieties of spinach have curly leaves. Baby spinach, however, is a flat-leaf variety. It has tender leaves, a mild flavor and is often sold pre-washed, making it perfect for salads. Mature spinach can be very gritty and should be thoroughly rinsed.

Fresh spinach is available year-round. Choose leaves that are crisp, dark green and smell fresh. Spinach can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to three days.

The dark green of spinach leaves is a nice contrast to the bright orange of Clementines, the smallest of the small mandarin oranges that most Americans call tangerines. Clementines require nothing but a flick of the thumb to release them from their skins. They used to be called kid-glove oranges because it was said a lady could eat the fruit without taking her gloves off.

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Clementines are so fragrant they have been used to scent body care products. Their flavor is so intense that the Corsicans make clementine wine. They are used in desserts, salads and stir fries.

These tiny orange fruits have always been popular in Europe but have come to the U.S. fairly recently. We get most of our Clementines from Spain, but the U.S. industry is growing. Thousands of acres of Clementines have been planted in California.

Citrus fruit is a good source of flavonoids, natural substances found in many fruits, vegetables, tea and wine. They are powerful antioxidants that researchers believe help protect against heart disease and cancer.

Celery and walnuts give this salad crunch, and red onion and dried fruit add even more color and texture.

Spinach & Clementine Salad

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Clementines (8-12)
  • 2 lb. baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into thin diagonal slices
  • 1/2 cup walnuts pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Peel Clementines, removing all white pith. Separate segments. Put in a large salad bowl with spinach celery, nuts, onions and berries. Mix well.
  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over salad and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
195 calories,
12 g. total fat,
1 g. saturated fat,
19 g. carbohydrate,
6 g. protein,
6 g. dietary fiber,
120 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 Vegetable, 1 Fruit, 1 Lean Meat

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