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A fresh spin on Salads

OW Staff | 2/20/2008, 5 p.m.

Using a creative combination of prepared ingredients like bagged greens or cooked chicken and some fresh flavor-rich ingredients, you will earn raves and recipe requests!

Avocados and corn are two delicious wholesome ingredients that are actually plentiful at this time of year. The avocado's rich flavor and creamy texture complement the crunchy character of supersweet corn, making them a dynamic duo that can transform your everyday salad.
The avocados on store shelves now likely come from Mexico. It's the same Hass variety you are used to, only grown in ideal conditions in central Mexico, the avocado capital of the world. The rich volcanic soil, mountain rain and abundant sunshine, combined with first-class production and safety standards, allow Mexican growers to harvest high-quality fruit year round.
Before cutting them, make sure avocados are ripe. Their buttery-smooth flavor and texture are at their prime when the pebbly skin is dark and the fruit yields to gentle pressure. If they are green and not quite ripe when you buy them, hold avocados at room temperature for a couple of days. Once ripe, refrigerate until ready to use.
Right now is a great time for sweet corn on the cob, thanks to supersweet varieties grown in Florida. Because they do not lose their sugar as quickly as traditional summer corn, you are rewarded with a delicious sweet taste in every bite. The extra sugar also keeps them fresh longer, (stored in the refrigerator), and the corn cooks quicker as well, on the grill or in the microwave. For the unmistakable juicy crunch you only get from fresh corn, cut kernels from the cob just before use in recipes. The kernels are equally tasty when eaten raw.
Nourishing Notes - Fresh fruits and vegetables don't need nutritional labels to tell you how packed they are with the right combination of nutrients for healthy goodness - naturally. Besides outstanding fresh flavor, both Mexican avocados and supersweet corn pack an impressive nutritional punch.
Avocados are nutrient-dense with 20 vitamins and minerals. They also boast heart-healthy unsaturated fats as recommended by The American Heart Association. And they're great for diabetics as they are fiber-rich and do not contain carbs.
Supersweet corn with its complex carbohydrates provides energy and is also a good source of Vitamin C and folic acid, lacking in the diets of most Americans. One medium ear of corn only has 80 calories and no saturated fat.
Both avocados and corn contain lutein, an antioxidant that has been shown to help maintain healthy eyesight as we age. Supersweet corn also contains zeaxanthin, another important antioxidant, which may lessen the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Spicy Roasted Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ears fresh supersweet corn, husk and silk removed
2 cups diced cooked chicken (about 10 ounces)
1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced radishes
2 fully ripened Mexican avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
Spicy Salad Dressing, recipe follows
4 cups mixed salad greens in bite-sized pieces
Preheat broiler to high. In a small cup, combine lime juice, chili powder and salt. Brush corn ears with the seasoning mixture; place on a broiler pan. Broil 6 inches from heat source until lightly browned; turn and continue broiling until barely cooked, a total of 7 to 10 minutes. Cool. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine, chicken, tomatoes and radishes. Cut each avocado into slices then cut slices in half crosswise; add to chicken mixture. Add 1/4 cup Spicy Salad Dressing; toss gently. Cut two or three 1/4-inch slices from each corn ear; set aside. Cut remaining corn kernels from the cobs, by holding the ear upright in a shallow bowl so the kernels don't scatter. Divide salad greens among 4 dinner plates. Top with the chicken mixture then corn kernels. Garnish with reserved corn rounds. Serve with additional dressing, if desired.
Yield: 4 portions
Spicy Salad Dressing: To 1/2 cup of your favorite vinaigrette dressing, add 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/8 teaspoon each ground cumin and ground red pepper (cayenne).
Per Serving: 402 calories, 26 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 22 g fat, 462 mg sodium