Not all salads are created equal. Follow these tips to make sure yours packs a nutritional punch.
“Start with a nutrient-rich base,” advises Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, CNS, author of “Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet.” “Greens like baby spinach, arugula [and] mesclun add folic acid, vitamin K and other nutrients.”
Lean proteins like grilled chicken or shrimp, or vegetarian options like beans, nuts or tofu, are your friends. “Salads contain a lot of water, so they fill you up quickly,” adds Reinagel. “Adding protein guarantees that that filled-up feeling lasts longer.”
Once your base is set, beware of the extras. “I’ve seen beautiful salads get ruined in the last 12 inches of the salad bar, where all the toppings are,” says Reinagel. Lightly dress your salad, and avoid creamy dressings like blue cheese (try a vinaigrette with crumbled blue cheese) and fat-free (yes, fat-free!) dressings.
“Fat-free dressings can’t rely on oil to add body or balance vinegar’s acidity,” Reinagel adds. “Instead, they rely on gums, resins or modified food starch to compensate.” And who wants all that when you’re just craving some nourishment from Mother Nature?
» Pile it on: Greens, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, shredded carrots, mushrooms, onions, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, edamame, chopped eggs, hearts of palm, celery, hot peppers
» Add sparingly: Corn, pickled beets, coleslaw, avocado, blue cheese, parmesan cheese, toasted sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, olives, marinated artichokes, three-bean salad, raisins, oil and vinegar dressing
» Just walk on by: Croutons, bacon bits, chow mein noodles, creamy or sweet salads or relishes, creamy dressings
Courtesy of “Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet.”