Salads are the quintessential "health food," but how do you really get the maximum enjoyment, nutrition, and satisfaction out of this dish? A salad makes for easy food prep and tons of nutrients if it's done right, but can also be boring, have empty calories, or be unfilling if you make poor choices as to what to put in it. The following are some suggested Dos and Don't of salad-making:
Overdo it on
the lettuce. Leafy greens are good for you, but let's face it, they're
the least interesting part of the salad! Start with a nice base of
greens and then be sure to add a variety of other items.
Vary your greens. Iceberg lettuce
has the least nutritional value of salad greens-- try red leaf,
romaine, green leaf, or field greens as a more vitamin- and
flavor-packed alternative. Other possibilities for greens include raw
spinach or kale (I personally prefer it blanched).
an unhealthy salad dressing. So many commercial dressings are a
horrendous conglomerate of high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives,
artificial flavors, and unhealthy oils. Your healthy meal is rendered
somewhat useless after being slathered in those types of so-called
Go ahead and use a dressing, preferably a
simple homemade one. Eating a bit of fat with your green
veggies actually helps the nutrients from the greens get absorbed in
your body. Additionally, a bit of fat in your salad helps you to feel
fuller longer. Super simple salad dressings include olive oil and
balsamic or wine vinegar, or olive oil and lemon juice. I'll be posting a
few more involved salad dressing recipes soon. If you want to buy a
dressing, read the label! If it has HFCS or ingredients which aren't
obviously food, skip it.
Pile a bunch of meat and
cheese on top of some greens and call it a salad. I'm sorry people, but a
chicken ceasar salad is NOT a health food. Nor are the salads available
at various fast food joints. Best bet is to make your salad yourself or
go to one of those pick-your-ingredients salad bars and select a wide
variety of veggies.
Include protein, so your salad will
keep you filled up. Some high nutrient additions include any type of
beans, cooked lentils, seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame,
soybeans or tofu, and nuts. If you have beans and seeds together in your
salad, it will be rendered a complete protein. A grain such as brown
rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, or barley can also make a nice salad
Lastly, DO keep it interesting and DON'T be afraid of
adding a ton of different veggies and even some fruits to your salad!
Raisins, craisins, apple, pear, or mandarin orange are great for a
little hint of sweetness. Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber are the usual
standbys, but don't forget carrots, celery, raw broccoli, artichoke
hearts, olives, peppers, raw mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, sprouts,
avocado... Hmm, I'm getting hungry.