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    Archive for the ‘salad’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Leafy Green Vegetables

    mesclunI have a question about lettuce – is there really much of a nutritional difference between the various types (iceberg, leaf, romaine)?

    And, where, do things like “spring greens” and spinach fit in?

    — Rob Portinga
    (Location Unknown)

    There certainly is a difference between iceberg and romaine lettuce.

    A cup of iceberg lettuce provides:

    • 7% of the daily vitamin A requirement
    • 3% of the daily vitamin C requirement
    • 22% of the daily vitamin K requirement
    • 5% of the daily folate requirement
    • 1 gram of fiber

    That same amount of romaine lettuce, meanwhile, contains:

    • 120% of the daily vitamin A requirement
    • 30% of the daily vitamin C requirement
    • 100% of the daily vitamin K requirement
    • 35% of the daily folate requirement
    • 2 grams of fiber

    Additionally, since romaine lettuce is darker than the iceberg variety, it contains a higher amount of phytonutrients.

    Mesclun mixes are another great choice.  Since they contain a mixture of different greens, you are getting a much wider variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients than you would by solely eating one variety of greens.

    By the way, your typical mesclun mix is made up of four or five different types of salad leaves!

    Spinach is slightly different in that it is part of the Brassica family of vegetables, meaning it has more in common with bok choy and broccoli than it does with lettuce.

    While spinach is a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and many phytonutrients, its high oxalate content unfortunately means we are unable to absorb a large percentage of its iron and calcium content.


    You Ask, I Answer: Choosing Cheese

    bocconcini-lgCan you recommend some cheeses that might be healthier than others to add to a salad?

    — Terri Korolev
    San Francisco, CA

    The key is to use cheeses that provide plenty of flavor but not a lot of saturated fat or sodium.

    Remember — the saturated fats in full-fat dairy are more atherogenic than those in other foods (like coconuts and cocoa beans).

    The absolute best choices are grated hard cheeses like romano and parmigiano-reggiano (also known as parmesan).

    In the case of romano, two tablespoons only add:

    • 40 calories
    • 2 grams saturated fat
    • 170 milligrams sodium

    That same amount of parmesan cheese, meanwhile, clocks in at:

    • 44 calories
    • 2 grams saturated fat
    • 152 milligrams sodium

    Another good addition to salads is bocconcini — fresh mozarella balls packaged in liquid (pictured alongside this post).  Two pieces of bocconcini provide:

    • 140 calories
    • 4 grams saturated fat
    • 40 milligrams sodium
    • 20 % of a day’s worth of calcium

    An ounce of whole milk ricotta also delivers strong flavors with a very decent nutritional profile:

    • 49 calories
    • 2.4 grams saturated fat
    • 24 milligrams sodium

    If you prefer cheeses higher in saturated fat and/or sodium (i.e: blue cheese, feta, Swiss, etc.), you can still include them.  The key is to plan out the rest of your meals accordingly.

    For example, if you crave a feta cheese-arugula-pear salad for dinner, make your breakfast, lunch, and snacks that day are low in saturated fat and sodium.

    Vegans: you can also enjoy cheeses in your salads — and I don’t just mean shredded-cheddar or shredded-mozarella imitations made from rice or soy.

    Dr. Cow, for instance, makes delicious nut-based cheeses.  Most of them also include acidophilus, which helps mimic the texture and flavor of aged cheeses (and offers health benefits of probiotics!).  I personally enjoy the aged cashew and crystal algae “cheese”.

    Similarly, there are a variety of vegan alternatives to grated parmesan cheese.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    The average taco salad shell contains approximately 300 – 450 calories.

    Yet another example of how salads can sometimes pack a caloric wallop.

    Eating the shell on a taco salad can make the difference between a 600 calorie lunch and 1,050 calorie meal!

    You’re better off resisting temptation by asking for your taco salad to be served in a bowl.

    If you are in need of some crunch, ask the server to top off your salad with a few tortilla chips (think a half dozen, thereby adding no more than 100 calories.)


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Cosi patrons, take note.

    Opting to have your salad of choice dressed with the house vinaigrette tacks on 357 calories.

    This partially explains why people sometimes express confusion when, despite substituting many of their regular foods with salad, weight loss does not occur.

    It is even more difficult to gauge how many calories you get from salad dressing at salad bars, where you use enormous ladles to dress your individual concoction (one full ladle can contain up to 600 calories of some dressings!)

    If you opt to have full-fat dressings, ask for them on the side, and aim to use no more than half of the amount you are provided.

    This is not to say that fat-free dressings can be poured liberally.

    Most dressings lacking fat provide flavor by throwing in higher amounts of sugar, thereby still containing a good number of calories.

    I suggest using a small amount of full-fat dressing and mixing it with other low-calorie ingredients (think balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice.)


    Numbers Game: Dress of Excess

    Cosi patrons, take note.

    Opting to have your salad of choice dressed with the house vinagreitte tacks on _______ calories.

    a) 196
    b) 238

    c) 310

    d) 357

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer.


    Summer Eatin’

    The latest video posted on the Small Bites YouTube channel offers tips and advice for a healthy and nutritious summer.

    Is mayo a microbiological bad guy? What’s a tasty and refreshing replacement for ice cream? Are you preparing your salad in such a way to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients?

    Find out more in this short video, where I also introduce you to a key player of the Small Bites team!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Recent studies by Brian Wansink of Cornell University’s Applied Economics and Management Department and Pierre Chandon of the European Institute for Business Administration found that, on average, people underestimate the caloric content of “healthy sounding” dishes (like a grilled chicken salad, pictured right) at chain restaurants (and most dishes at “healthy sounding” restaurants) by 20 percent.

    This false sense of security is quite deceptive.

    It’s one thing to eat a grilled chicken breast on a bed of vegetables with a tablespoon of dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but quite another to accompany it with a ladle of dressing that can contribute up to 500 extra calories.

    And it’s not just calories that can be underestimated with healthy sounding choices.

    Here’s a shocker:

    An order of medium fries at McDonald’s contributes 221 milligrams of sodium to your day.

    An Asian chicken salad from that same chain? 1,030 milligrams — and that’s before you add a single drop of dressing!

    Once you pour that packet of dressing on, the total sodium content shoots up to 1,790 milligrams.

    The best tactic is to always be aware of what you are eating.

    For instance, does your grilled chicken sandwich come slathered with a thick layer of mayonnaise? Is your whole wheat wrap a foot long? Is your brown rice and vegetable stir fry drowning in sauce?

    Don’t be afraid to take charge, either. Ask for the dressing on the side, substitute mustard for mayo on your sandwich, and request that your stir fry be “light on the sauce.”

    Just remember to tip well!


    You Ask, I Answer: Cooking Artichokes

    How do you add artichokes to a stir fry? Do you just eat the heart? I usually eat the bottom of the leaf with my teeth… but can more of it be eaten?

    — Taylor Stirek
    New York, NY

    Artichoke hearts are a great way to eat a lot of this delicious — and healthy — vegetable. I especially love to mix them into a frittata.

    I recommend buying either canned or frozen artichoke hearts, chopping them up with other vegetables (i.e: onions, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli) and adding them to the egg batter that will eventually go on a an oiled and heated pan or skillet.

    Remember: when purchasing canned vegetables, be sure to rise them in cold water before using them to remove some excess sodium.

    Chopped artichoke hearts are also a great addition to a summer salad. Start off with mixed baby greens and, along with artichoke hearts, add chickpeas, red onion, lean protein (canned tuna, grilled salmon, or grilled chicken), and shredded carrots.


    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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