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Southwest Salad full of color and flavor

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

As the temperature increases, many of us head to the produce department for some "lighter" and "cooler" food items. A great-tasting salad can really hit the spot on a warm, sunny day.

Salads can be fun to create by using a variety of ingredients and toppings. A different salad can be made every time. This allows you to experience different types of tastes and textures while nourishing your body at the same time.

I like a salad to be filling and have some depth to it. This southwestern salad not only looks great on the plate and has a fantastic flavor, but is rich in protein and fiber to keep you content and satisfied.

The addition of black beans provides protein and soluble fiber. The homemade dressing uses avocado, which provides you with heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat, and Greek yogurt which is high in protein.

Feel free to create different variations of this salad by using different vegetables, adding other lean protein such as shrimp, chicken or tuna, and making a salad dressing by mixing half light ranch dressing with an equal amount of salsa. A few baked tortilla strips can be tossed on top for a crunch.

Southwestern Salad with Black Beans

Makes one serving

1/2 ripe avocado

1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro (or amount you desire)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1-2 green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, quartered

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups mixed greens

1/2 cup black beans, canned (rinsed) or cooked

1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen(thawed)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes

1. Place avocado, cilantro, yogurt, green onions, garlic, lime juice, sugar and salt in a blender; blend until smooth.

2. Place greens in an individual salad bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing (Cover and refrigerate the remaining dressing for up to 3 days). Top the greens with black beans, corn and tomatoes.

Nutrition information: 235 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 13 g fiber, 307 mg sodium.

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