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Food | Salads: Here are two you will want to try at home

(Family Features) - One way of shedding some of those pandemic pounds we've put on over the past 12 months is to eat healthier. With spring making its appearance finally in Central Illinois and warmer temperatures making it more pleasant to get outside, now is the time to give your salads an update by avoiding the same tired mixes and instead create tasty meals fit for the season. Welcome to salad season.

Salads are also a perfect canvas for creating refreshing meals and appetizers centered around tasty greens, juicy tomatoes and crave-worthy dressings.

One easy way to up your salad game is by starting with quality ingredients like Fresh Express salad blends, NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes and Litehouse refrigerated salad dressings. These fresh, flavorful ingredients can be combined in a dish like in the Chimichurri Chickpea Salad recipe below, is a perfect way to make your meals a little greener this spring for nearly any dining occasion.

Part of the appeal of dishing up a homemade salad is the unlimited options you have at your fingertips to make the bowl of greens uniquely "yours". For many, this means one thing: the more toppings, the better. With grilled chicken, crispy bacon, tomatoes, ripe avocado, hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese and a bed of fresh lettuce, this classic Cobb Salad offers an ideal lunch or even a quick family meal.

Because both these recipes can be made in 20 minutes or less, they provide simple solutions when short on time. Plus, the fresh ingredients sum up everything that make spring meals delicious.

Chimichurri Chickpea Salad

Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

1 cup fresh cilantro
2/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, drained
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bag Fresh Express Baby Kale Mix
1 cup NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes, diced
1 medium avocado, diced
4 tablespoons Litehouse Avocado Ranch Dressing

In food processor, combine cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until sauce is smooth.

Place chimichurri sauce in small bowl with chickpeas and crushed red pepper flakes; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible.

Divide kale, tomatoes and avocado between four bowls. Top each bowl evenly with marinated chickpeas. Drizzle with avocado ranch dressing and serve.

Cobb Salad

Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

3-4 eggs
1/4 pound bacon
1 bag Fresh Express Sweet Butter Lettuce
1 pound grilled chicken
1 cup NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup Litehouse Homestyle Ranch Dressing

Bring pot of water to boil. Use slotted spoon to place eggs in water. Boil 10 minutes then transfer to ice bath to stop cooking process. Peel eggs and slice.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Dice bacon and add to pan. Saute until bacon is crispy and fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove from pan with slotted spoon.

To assemble salad, start with bed of lettuce. Top with hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon and blue cheese; toss in ranch dressing.

Find more ways to create easy yet delicious salads at