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Beating the Salad Blues

With temperatures rising, it’s only a matter of time before refreshing salads become lunch and dinner staples. In order to make one a nutritious and delicious — rather than torturous — part of your day, allow me to share some pointers:

* Know your leaves: A salad made with iceberg lettuce, which is basically crunchy water, will lack taste and nutrients. Instead, experiment with baby greens, mesclun mixes, and spinach as salad bases. If you like iceberg’s texture, mix it with more nutritious greens.

* Make it filling with fiber: Add chickpeas, kidney beans, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, and/or a tablespoon of flaxseed to up your salad’s fiber content.

* Call on Roy G. Biv: Foods’ vitamin and mineral contents vary by color (ie: yellow and orange are great for Vitamin A and C, while green ones are good course of Vitamin E). So, a spinach/broccoli/green pepper/pea salad doesn’t offer as much nutrition as as a spinach/cauliflower/red pepper/carrot one.

* Give it a protein boost: A salad with nothing but vegetables and fat-free dressing is a diet pitfall, since the lack of protein and fiber won’t satiate you. Be sure to add at least one main source of lean protein (ie: grilled chicken breast, tuna fish, egg, tofu, tempeh, nuts, or beans).

* Say yes to (healthy) fats: In order to absorb all those nutrients, you will need fat. Best ways? Add some sliced avocado, replace fat-free dressing with an olive-oil based one, or use healthy add-ons like sunflower seeds, almonds, and beans.

* Sweeten it up: Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors. Strawberries, mangos, pears, apples, and orange slices can turn a “blah” salad into a gourmet treat.

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3 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on April 27th, 2009

    You said that a salad of only vegetables would lack fiber, so you should add a source of lean protein. Wouldn’t vegetables alone provide fiber?

  2. Anonymous said on April 27th, 2009

    You said that a salad of only vegetables would lack fiber, so you should add a source of lean protein. Wouldn’t vegetables alone provide fiber?

  3. Andy Bellatti said on April 28th, 2009

    Great question!

    The vegetables most people use as salad base (lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and onions) do contain fiber, but you need a LOT of them to reach high values.

    Two cups of shredded lettuce, for example, contain 2 grams of fiber.

    Adding a fibrous protein can amp up that value quite significantly.

    A half cup of chickpeas, for example, tacks on an additional 5!

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