I’ve officially hit the time of winter when inspiration in the kitchen is hard to come by. The temperatures are below freezing, and I’m watching snow fall, yet again, outside the kitchen window.

Though it’d be a perfect day for soup, or a beef roast, or even a simple casserole, none of it sounds very appealing. The reality is that I’m craving fruits and vegetables — preferably fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the garden.

It’s obvious nothing fresh is coming from our tiny garden for several months, so I’m thankful that our local grocery stores offer these goods, trucked from areas in the country that are not under a blanket of snow for four to five months a year, or even raised in local greenhouses. After a trip to the store, it is time to put fresh salads on the menu.

A favorite but really easy fruit salad we enjoy calls for readily available fruits and a simple dressing. Simply combine 5 kiwis, peeled and sliced; 3 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated into sections; 2 bananas, peeled and sliced; 2 pears, peeled and sliced; and 2 apples, cored and diced.

Mix the fruit in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint, mixing gently. In a small bowl, combine a tablespoon of lime juice and a tablespoon of honey.

Pour the dressing over the fruit and stir to combine. Serve salad immediately or refrigerate for two hours.

Don’t worry if there are leftovers because this salad makes a great smoothie the next day. Just add a little coconut water or yogurt and a little spinach, if desired, and blend.

We also thoroughly enjoy a simple chef salad loaded with mixed greens, hard-boiled eggs, diced ham, tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded cheese. It really can’t get any easier to toss this together, but after a long winter of heavy comfort foods, it tastes really, really good.

If you need a salad recipe that’s a bit more complex, check out the ones elsewhere on this page. They use a great combination of flavors easily found even in the winter months. You will surely find several to get you through the weeks ahead.

Janelle Thomas can be reached at janellethomas@charter.net.