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Sandra Stringer: Don't use only iceberg lettuce in salads; switch up ingredients
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I was probably grown before I ever tried a tossed salad with a main ingredient of something other than iceberg lettuce.

True, potato salad was available to eat nearly every Sunday, but spinach or romaine weren’t anywhere on the menu.

Spinach, of course, was the well-known food choice of cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man. I remember seeing canned spinach in a kitchen cabinet and in the veggies aisle at Big Star grocery store, but that’s about it.

Things definitely change as you get older. I tried a creamed spinach dish at a volunteer covered-dish dinner. It was so good I could’ve filled my plate with it and I would’ve been just fine.

One time I was at the home of a new family friend. The salad she served for dinner included bean sprouts, several types of lettuce, pine nuts and other ingredients. The dressing was raspberry vinaigrette, not the Thousand Island that I grew up with. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

If you’re eating more salads, just remember to try a variety of flavorful ingredients to create a splash of color to look at while eating. You can make so many combinations, and there’s no excuse for salads to be boring.

In the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, we offer participants a chance to sample and create Tex Mex salad, chicken confetti salad, Southern salsa and crunchy apple salad.  They provide enough choices to have a different salad nearly every day of the week.

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If you’re looking for ways to treat your taste buds and enjoy the outdoors, remember to add the Spring Chicken Festival to your calendar.

It’s set for April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the downtown square in Gainesville. Visitors will have a chance to sample a variety of chicken creations by teams competing in the cook-off.

The festival includes a 5-kilometer race, a parade, the art market and live entertainment.

For more information, visit www.gainesville.org/spring-chicken-festival.

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Also, the Hall County Farmers’ Market will open May 10 on the corner of Jesse Jewell Parkway and East Crescent Drive near Exit 24 of Interstate 985.

Hours are 2:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 7 a.m. to noon (or until items sell out) on Saturdays.

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. She may be contacted at 770-535-8290. Her column appears monthly on Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.