eating dew-dusted grass and weeds to me and I choose not to partake.
For those of you with an appetite requiring only a mere “dieter’s” salad, congrats…I guess. But let’s discuss this further and see if you don’t see the light, both for your mental health and overall health.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat raw mackerel every day for lunch than a “dieter’s” salad. Now, I love vegetables as much as a dietitian should, but a plain’ol salad aint suppressing this appetite.
Firstly, let’s remove fat-free dressing from our inventory. I’m a huge advocate for the low-fat versions, and I’ll tell you why. So many of vitamins in your lettuce, greens, and vegetables are fat-soluble, meaning that in order to be synthesized in the body, require fat*. Fat is good. Second, the fat is in fat-free dressings is replaced with simple sugars (i.e. carbohydrates) with little to no nutritional value, versus a mono or polyunsaturated fat**-rich oil found in many salad dressings. Lastly, the texture and flavor just aren’t good!
We should also consider the addition of protein to a salad in order to make it tasty, filling, and nutrient rich. Try adding chicken, seafood, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, tofu, and other lean meats or meat substitutes. Beans are also a great fiber and protein-rich food that can be added to salads. Specifically, try black beans and garbanzo beans on salads. Adding a dairy product to salads can balance out the meal. Cheese and cottage cheese are great additions to a salad. Opt for the low-fat or fat-free versions of these products as they are calorie-dense. Try something new and add some fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, pineapple, berries, etc. Lastly, I challenge you to also try some nuts and seeds for additional vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats. Watch your portions on these items as a little goes a long way (nutritionally and calorically!). By adding a fruit, protein, and a cheese to your average salad, you have a complete, balanced meal.
Don’t forget to change things up and try new combinations. Even the most colorful and flavorful salads will become old hat. Don’t choose a salad every day, but incorporate them into lunch and dinner choices as to not “burn out”. When done properly, your average “dieter’s” salad will surely become a long-lost torture in your healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a current salad in my “save” pile:
Mango Pecan Salad with Chicken
8 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1 ripe mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp fat-free chicken broth
1 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lbs cooked boneless, skinless chicken, diced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Wisk together lime juice, broth, honey, garlic, and mustard. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss over all vegetables, add chicken and pecans.
Per serving: 362 calories, 15 g. fat (2 g. saturated fat), 29 g. carbohydrates, 30 g. protein, 7 g. dietary fiber, 115 mg. sodium
* The fat required to utilized fat-soluble vitamins in a salad (or other meal) does not need to be consumed with any particular food item in a meal. Fat can come for any number of sources and so long as the fat is consumed within close proximity to the consumption of the vitamins, the nutrients are able to be synthesized properly.
** Mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s and PUFA’s for sanity’s sake) are what the diet world refers to as some “good fats”. MUFA’s and PUFA’s are found in several common oils including: olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and flax seed oil. Choose these oils above others for heart-protective benefits.