Eating salads can be a great way to boost your intake of important vitamins and minerals while increasing the number of fruit and vegetable servings you get, which is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Hint: It can also be all too easy to turn that nutritious salad into a 1800 calorie nightmare meal that may be worse for you than a double meat, cheeseburger from(insert fast food joint name) with super-sized fries, if you use the wrong toppings like crumbled bacon, croutons, cheese, deep fried foods such as taco shells, wonton strips and fatty salad dressings. Are all delicious, but can all pack on loads of calories and fat in the blink of an eye.
The good news is that there plenty of other toppings that can be used instead that are just as tasty. For starters, try using spinach or darker greens for your base as they contain more nutrients than lighter colored greens. Top with a variety of colored vegetables or even fruits for different tastes and textures. Sprinkle on a few pecans, walnuts or pine nuts for some heart healthy “good” fat. And go easy on the dressing! Try varieties like herb flavored vinegars and olive oil to get more flavor with less fat and calories.
Basic olive oil dressing: One of the simplest of all salad dressings is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with wedges of lemon or lime on the side – squeeze lemon or lime juice to taste. Low calorie great taste!
For salads with feta or other types of cheese like the Greek and Italian Salads, I recommend straight olive oil.
For salads with cucumber, try olive oil and a good quality Red Wine vinegar.
One of my favorite dressing, which I use on a salad of Romaine lettuce, spring onions, and fresh dill, is this simple, easy, and is a Greek and Italian style combination of olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.
(Don’t ever buy or use that worthless, tasteless, watery iceberg lettuce)
extra virgin olive oil
fine quality red wine vinegar
crushed fresh oregano (Use 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano if you don’t have garden fresh at hand)
Tip: you may want to add finely chopped, fresh basil or thyme (use 1/4 teaspoon dry if you don’t have fresh herbs on
salt (a little goes a long way)
Black pepper (fresh ground)
This is a basic Olive oil and vinegar dressing that can and should be customized to your taste
For 1 cup of dressing:
3/4 cup of Greek extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of good quality red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed oregano (Use 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano if you don’t have garden fresh at hand)
1 teaspoon of salt (don’t over do the salt)
a pinch of fresh ground black pepper corns.
Whisk together in a bowl, or place in a tightly covered jar and shake to combine. The dressing will turn a light color with a creamy texture as the oil and vinegar combine. (Don’t make to much at one time. This dressing does not store well)
Tip About Dill: If you can’t find fresh dill for the salad, add 1 teaspoon of dried dill to the dressing.
Eat well and loose weight. Don’t snack on fat and calorie filled foods like potato/corn based chips. Reduce your consumption of both regular and diet soda. Just because the label says diet does not mean it is good for you!
Replace fat high calorie dips like Ranch style dressings with low calorie, good for you low calorie dips like avocado dip, home made dips made from roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and olive oil. Maybe you would like a low fat, low calorie yogurt dip.
Keep a small container of carrot, celery, baby beets or cucumber spears or small green onions or other vegetables you like in your refrigerator for ready to eat healthy snacks. Watch your salt consumption, replace salt with fresh herbs to replace the salt you crave in your snacks.
Force you and your family to abandon TV, computers, ipods, cell phones during meal times. Turn the damn things ‘Off’. Force yourself and your family to actually sit at your dinning table, enjoy your meal, do I dare say it? Actually talk to your family!!
Serve meals in courses. Green salad first, this should be no less than 1/2 of the total food served each meal. Serve with homemade or bakery fresh hard crust breads.
Don’t rush to get to the main course. Fill up as much as possible on healthy fresh salads. Reduce ‘All’ meat consumption to no more than 2 to 4 ounces of fish or meat. Grilled or broiled is much healthier than fried meats. Don’t be afraid to use a pat of ‘Real’ butter to enhance your foods taste. Just don’t over do it!
Third course, dessert, keep it small, keep it fresh, keep it simple and naturally sweet. A few slices of fresh fruit, berries or a slice of vine ripe melon.
Fourth course, coffee, green or black tea maybe a small glass of sweet dessert wine. Your choices are almost endless. If you serve fruit juice, insure that it is 100 percent fruit juice, not that unhealthy, high calorie so called fruit drink mix. Just keep it natural, low fat, low salt and low calorie.
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