Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

MK Salad: An Illustrated Reference

Melissa Kaplan, 2000


The following is a quick illustrated reference to the main ingredients of my iguana salad, known around the internet as the "MK Salad." Place your cursor over the picture to read the caption. A few of the pictures are linked to other websites where you will find more information - the caption will indicate which these are.


Collard greens are deep green, leaves fairly thick, with hard stems.   (Photo copyright 1998 Berea College.)

Collard Greens
Brassica oleracea var. acephala

Mustard greens are lighter green in color than collards.  They have a slightly sandy texture to the leaves.  Mustards come in a flat leafed variety and in a curly edged form.  Both are suitable for herbivores and omnivores.  (Photo copyright 1998 Oregon State University)

Mustard Greens
Brassica juncea


Chard (aka Swiss Chard) is widely available with white or cream stems and medium to dark green leaves.  Chard comes in a rainbow of colors and some may be found at your market or through seed catalogs.  Stem colors include purple, orange, red, and yellow, and leaves range from pale green to deep reddish green. All are suitable in moderation for herbivores and omnivores. (Photo copyright 1999 McDonald Outdoor Garden)

Beta vulgaris (Cicla Group)

Dandelion greens - the type grown for human consumption generally have large flat leaves and a notable absence of prickly protrusions from their undersides.  While you can feed your herbivores and omnivores wild-growing dandelions, do make sure they are dandelions and not another form of milkthistle.  Some can be toxic and some have very hard thorns growing from the stems and veins on the undersides of the leaves.  Be sure to harvest them only from areas free of pesticides, herbicides and vehicular exhaust

Taraxacum officinale


Escarole is the palest member of the greens that are good nutritionally for herbivores and omnivores.  Looking rather like butter or Boston head lettuce, they are more nutritious than either of them.  They tend to have the shortest shelf life of all the greens so use them within a few days of purchase.  (Photo copyright 1998 Wegmans Produce)

Escarole (Endive)
Cichorium endivia
This is related to the less nutritious
Belgian Endive
(Cichorium intybus var. folosum)


The alfalfa called for in the salad is mature alfalfa, not alfalfa sprouts.  Nutritionally speaking, mature alfalfa is a giant, high in protein, calcium, and fiber.  Alfalfa sprouts, on the other hand, are more closely related to cucumber and lettuce, nutritionally speaking.  If you are interested in more information on alfalfa, click on the photo to go to the Food & Feeding section of my Iguana site.  (Photo copyright 1998 University of Guelph)

Medicago sativa

Parsnips are available year round in many areas; in others, they are scarce in the winter.  The root is scrubbed free of dirt and shredded raw for serving herbivores and omnivores.  (Photo copyright 1998  Wegmans Produce)

Pastinaca sativa

Sweet potatoes, often confused with yams, are suitable substitutes for winter squash and carrots.  Once peeled, cut or shredded, they do turn brown so can look "off" if the salad has been sitting for a while. Click on the photo to go to a webpage that discusses the varieties of sweet potatoes.  (Photo copyright 1998 Wegmans Produce)
See photos of sweet potatoes and yams

Sweet Potato
Ipomoea batatas


Winter squashes are more nutritious than the summer squashes.  They are quite hard and should be peeled before shredding for herbivore and omnivore salads.  Click on the photo to go to a webpage that gives descriptions and names of various winter squashes. (Photo copyright 1998 Wegmans Produce)

Winter Squash
Cucurbita spp.

Summer squash are soft skinned and available primiarily during the warm spring and summer months. They are fine to use as occasional substitutes for winter squashes.  Skip the long, green zucchinis, however: they are more closely related, nutritionally speaking, to their cousin, the cucumber. Click on the photo to go to a webpage that discusses the various types of summer squash.  (Photo copyright 1998 Wegmans Produce)
See more photos of specifc squashes

Summer Squash
Cucurbita spp.


Green beans - pole beans, bush beans, snap peas, and snow peas - are edible-podded beans that may be green, yellow, purple or white.  Cut or snap off the stem end, finely chop or process, and they are good to go.  Whole pods are fun food for tortoises and can help keep their beak in trim when offered as treats.  (Photo copyright 1988 Oregon State University.)

Green beans
Phaseolus spp., Pisum spp.

Fruit forms a mere 10% of the MK Salad and is present mostly for color and moisture.  While any fruit in season can be used, best are seeded apples, pears, mangos, papaya, strawberries and raspberries.  Fresh or reconstituted dried figs are excellent sources of calcium (just be sure to seed figs before feeding to hatchlings so they don't fill up on seeds!)   Citrus fruits may not be accepted by herbivores and omnivores, so best to save them, and the high phosphorous banana, as treat foods.  (Photo copyrigh

Assorted Fruits


Aren't sure what how small the hard veggies need to be when fed to your iguana? See What Size Is It?

Since foods are called by different names in different languages, I have created a Vegetable and Fruit Names page so that you may look up a food and see what it might be known by in your country. Since manufactured product names vary from country to country as well, I have started a Product Names page to help make things a bit easier.

Some excellent places to find photos of other vegetables, greens, fruits and herbs are the many plant and seed company online and print catalogs, in your local plant nursery or garden supply shop, and in books in the public library and bood stores. Some of my favorite plant and plant information websites on the web are:

Photos and descriptions:
Burpee Seed Company
Oregon State University: Plant Foods
Park Seed Online
Shephard Seeds
Territorial Seed Company
Nutrient and other information databases:
Harmful & Edible Plants
Plants for a Future Database
Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database
Nutrient Databases

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