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Lighten up summer with delicious salads and fun activities

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:35 am, Fri Oct 3, 2014.

(BPT) - The arrival of summer means families are looking for ways to lighten up when it comes to the clothes they’re wearing and the foods they’re eating. They’re starting to incorporate fresh, light flavors into their meals, especially as local fruits and vegetables become available. And with the warmer weather, it’s much easier to get outside for activities the entire family will enjoy.

If you’re interested in revamping your eating routine and helping your family shape up for the summer, we’ve got some helpful hints:

* Flavorful and nutrient-rich salad pairings – Summer is the time for salads, which can be loaded up with fresh, locally grown ingredients. The leafy base you choose for your salad can also give your family plenty of power-packed nutrients. For example:

Romaine lettuce – contains vitamins A, K and C

Field greens – rich in iron and magnesium

Spinach – contains calcium, fiber and beta-carotene

Pair all three greens together for a powerful, nutritious punch. Top off the salad with the right pairing of flavors. For example, tomato salads work beautifully with Marzetti Simply Dressed Balsamic or Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, while Southwestern-style salads are delicious with the addition of corn and lime juice or black beans and avocados.

* Turn ordinary into extraordinary – Grilled veggies and crunchy textures turn routine salads into something you can’t wait to dig into. Grill carrots, zucchini and tomatoes with lean meats for a sweetened and smoky flavor. For those family members who don’t crave vegetables, go for the crisp taste and dress your salad with crunchy nuts and sweet fruits using Marzetti Fruit and Nut Salad Accents or add some Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch dressing to make the veggies more appealing. In fact, more than one in four Americans say they’ll eat vegetables if they can’t tell they’re eating them, according to a survey.

* Power up with a partner – Get active this spring with a friend or with the entire family. Sign up for something new like a boxing class or dance class you can enjoy together. Having a partner or group turns the activity into a social event, and it also helps to keep you accountable. A benefit to staying active? A report by the Huffington Post says people doing physical activities with a spouse, friends or coworker enjoyed the activity more, and were happier.

* Keep it simple for a big impact – Instead of setting a huge goal that may seem daunting and unattainable, set mini, achievable goals for yourself. Make simple changes you can incorporate daily to help improve your health. Some ways to do this include:

Ditch the elevators – Take the stairs at work, the shopping mall or the hotel.

Pick up cycling – Bike to work, or take a ride after work.

Get outside – Over the lunch hour, take a walk around the neighborhood.

Adding three 10-minute periods of physical activity in your daily schedule are just as beneficial as participating in one 30-minute period of exercise, according to Heart.org. Plus, if you can do your exercise outside in the sun, you’ll be able to absorb some vitamin D, which is also good for your body.

After the long winter, creating delicious salad pairings packed with flavor and enjoying quality time outside with your family and friends are perfect ways to lighten up this summer. Check out Marzetti.com for more delicious salad ideas.

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