Monday, July 1, 2013

5 Steps to a Fabulous Salad


Now that summer is here, many individuals increase their intake of vegetables and fresh salads. The vegetables are more abundant and taste better and salads are an easy, and refreshing choice that can help you manage your weight. Yes, a traditional green leaf lettuce, cucumber, and tomato salad is delicious, but let’s face it… it can get old pretty fast. Instead of throwing the towel in because you can’t stand to eat another “salad” try giving your salad some personality and variety.


If the salad is the entrée, be sure to include some lean proteins and complex carbohydrates to keep you satisfied. If you only choose vegetables, it is likely you will be hungry in an hour or two!


Don’t let your salad be a calorie bomb! Be mindful in your salad dressing selection and portion size. ¼ cup of blue cheese dressing will run you about 400 calories, turning your healthy salad into an unhealthy meal! Be weary of fried or high saturated fat toppings: croutons, bacon, tortilla chips/strips and instead go for the healthy fats (see below).


Follow these 5 steps to make a killer entrée salad


1. Choose the “base” of the salad.

Different greens have different textures, flavors, and nutrition profiles.


Some of my favorites are: spinach, arugula, watercress, beet greens, butterhead, or boston lettuce. An easy way to get a variety of flavors/greens is to go with a spring or mesculin mix. Even kale and chard make great raw salads (just be sure to massage them or chop well).


2. Go for extra fiber.

Vegetables are low in calories and can add a lot of dimension to a salad.


Try adding peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, mushrooms, beets, snap peas, asparagus, broccoli, celery, carrots, artichoke hearts for extra crunch and flavor.


3. Choose a protein.

Protein is important to make us feel full and satisfied.


Some of my favorites are: grilled/baked chicken, salmon, solid white tuna, tofu, cheese, chopped egg, beans.


4. Add a complex carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are used for quick energy. Avoiding them can increase carb or sugar cravings later on, setting yourself up to overindulge.


• Beans are a great topping (they contain protein, carbs, and fiber). Try black, pinto, kidney (white or red), or chick peas (they pair nicely with corn).

• Fruit is another way to add variety to your salads. Try berries, chopped apple or pear, peaches, grilled pineapple, or some dried fruit raisins, craisins, prunes, apricots… the possibilities are endless!

• Add a whole grain such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, or whole wheat pasta. 


5. Healthy fats

We all need fats in our diet, they help us feel full and do not raise blood sugar. Just be cautious of portion sizes because fats are high in calories!


• Salad dressings: The dressing can really change the dynamic of the salad! Look for olive or canola based dressings. “Light” or low fat varieties can be a great way to slash the calories. Making dressings and vinaigrettes is easy, look for a new recipe!

• Nuts and seeds add great flavor and crunch to salads. Try sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, or flax!

• Add slices/ chopped avocado, guacamole or your favorite cheese for extra staying power!


I will be posting some of my favorite salad combinations soon!


What is your favorite salad?


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