The chopped salads at Choppers are a bite of fresh goodness

Even though there's snow on the ground, spring is now three weeks old -- and that means shaping up for summer weather. Our favorite lighter fare? A chopped-up salad atChoppers Custom Salads -- either the downtown or DTC location. It's kind of like Illegal Pete's mixed-up-burrito, but in salad form.

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Choppers (which won Best Salad Bar in this year's Best of Denver) has some pre-made options for the unadventurous, but there are enough ingredients on hand that you can build the salad of your dreams. Ours, pictured above, features spring mix, Roma tomatoes, avocado and black beans tossed with a light cilantro-lime vinaigrette that adds a slight tang to the mix.

Other mix-in options include corn, tofu, red onion, bell pepper -- and that's just in the Southwestern theme. You can also get pears, mandarin oranges, Granny Smith apples, Craisins, beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, portobello mushrooms, cucumbers, sprouts, snow peas, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garbanzo beans, edamame and much more. You make your choices, which are then layered in a bowl with romaine lettuce, baby spinach, iceberg or the aforementioned spring mix. Everything gets tossed on a chopping board, sliced and diced, then dressed and returned to the bowl. There are seventeen dressings (some clearly marked as gluten- or lactose free); you can get your salad tossed in light, medium or heavy doses of your choice.

Soups and snacks available, too. All in all, Choppers is a great place for a quick lunch -- and you might just want to pick up an extra salad for dinner, too!

Choppers is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 1765 Blake Street and 5302 DTC Boulevard; visit www.chopperscustomsalads.com for more information.

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