A salad is not a meal. It is a style.
10 Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your SaladBy Jude Buglewicz
Summer means sun, sand, and . . . salads. Besides being great for your figure, eating lots of nutrient-rich vegetables is an excellent way to maintain your health. To keep you filling up the big bowls all season long, we've provided lists of delicious ingredients for you to choose from to add flavor, variety, and a heap of health benefits. So eat up and enjoy!
Remember, dark green, leafy lettuces and red and orange fruits and vegetables provide key nutrients and more disease-fighting antioxidants than paler varieties. Lower-fat cheeses and yogurt provide protein and calcium without the fat. And fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring, as well as flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and tofu are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, regulate metabolism and blood sugar, and keep your arteries clear. Finally, fruits, veggies, and legumes are excellent sources of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for maintaining normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels, promoting a feeling of fullness after eating, and keeping you regular!
- Greens. Arugula, Boston and Bibb lettuce, endive, mustard greens, radicchio, romaine, spinach, watercress
Unfortunately, most Americans choose iceberg lettuce, the least nutritious of the green leafy veggies. Romaine and watercress, though, have almost eight times more beta-carotene and twice the potassium. Mesclun is also a good salad choice. It's a mixture of baby greens such as baby spinach, radicchio, arugula, and mache. If you opt for the convenient prepackaged bags of salad greens, it's a good idea to rinse the leaves before eating, as even some "thrice-washed" varieties have been known to harbor harmful bacteria.
- Herbs (fresh). Basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme
Prepare fresh herbs for eating by thoroughly rinsing off dirt and grit under running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Chop herbs coarsely, removing any hard stems. Remember to buy fresh herbs in small quantities and refrigerate or freeze any leftovers in plastic bags or airtight containers.
- Fruits. Apples, currants, dried cranberries, grapefruit, kiwis, mandarin oranges, mango, papaya, peaches, pineapple, raisins, raspberries, seedless grapes, strawberries
You can prepare fruit salads without veggies, or add any of the fruits listed to your green salad to boost the nutrient and antioxidant levels and supply more zest and flavor.
- Veggies. Alfalfa or bean sprouts, asparagus, avocado, beets, bell peppers (red, orange, yellow), broccoli, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, fennel, jalapeños, jicama, peas (frozen or fresh), radishes, mushrooms, scallions, vine-ripened tomatoes, zucchini
Packing salads with fruits and veggies ensures you're on your way to getting those five recommended daily servings. Opt for mixing different colored veggies to get more phytochemical benefits.
- Legumes. Black beans, garbanzo beans, green beans, lentils, pinto beans, snow peas, white beans
Typically neglected in Western diets, legumes are popular traditional dishes in the rest of the world. They provide protein (without the saturated fat found in animal protein), and essential vitamins and minerals. Low on the glycemic index scale, they also improve blood glucose levels and give you the sensation of feeling full, so you'll eat less (and lose weight!).
- Cheeses. Blue, cottage cheese (low-fat), feta (reduced fat), goat, parmesan, ricotta
Crumble a little feta or blue cheese over your salador add my personal favorite, nonfat cottage cheeseto increase the calcium and protein content of your meal and help fulfill your recommended three to four daily servings of dairy products.
- Fish. Anchovies, herring, salmon, sardines, tuna
Omega-3 fatty acids! It's recommended you eat some kind of oily, cold-water fish at least twice a week, and that you include foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid as well (e.g., tofu, walnuts, and flaxseed), as they become omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Omega-3s are heart-healthy and are believed to be important for healthy brain functioning, too.
- Other proteins. Boiled eggs, broiled tofu cubes, edamame (whole, unprocessed soybean), strips of lean ham, pork, chicken, or turkey
You want to be sure to get enough protein when you're working out and building lean muscle, but you also want to avoid the saturated fat and cholesterol in animal proteins. So, for salads, either choose lean meats or proteins from plant sources, such as tofu or edamame. Adding a couple slices of a boiled egg is also a low-calorie, high-protein way to ramp up the vitamin and mineral content of your meal.
- Nuts, seeds. Almonds, flaxseeds, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Yeah, yeah, seeds and nuts are high in fat, but it's unsaturated fat (the best kind). They're also good sources of dietary fiber and minerals. Sprinkling a few in your salad will add a nice crunchy texturemuch better for you than fattening croutons!
- Dressings. Balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, hummus, lemon juice, lime juice, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, soy sauce
Combine a little lemon or lime juice with herbs and extra-virgin olive oil for a healthy and zesty salad dressing, or blend a little yogurt and herbs with a tablespoon of olive oil for a creamier, more flavorful texture. Honey blended with Dijon mustard and yogurt is also delicious. Just stay away from those high-calorie, high-fat store-bought bottled dressings!
5 Guilt-Free Tricks for Pigging OutBy Denis Faye
Moderation is tough. Sure, sure, it's the key to dieting. It shrinks your stomach and keeps the calories down, but if it were that easy, we'd all be skinny, wouldn't we? Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can use when that restraint just isn't going to happen.
A warning before we start: these tips may seem rather boring. Ya see, this article isn't about endorsing guilt-free pigging out. No, I'm not going to tell you to go ahead and fill up on low-fat, low-carb snack foodsbecause A) they're junk and B) eating right isn't just about losing weight. It's about getting healthy. What I can offer, however, are a few tricks to offset the negative effects of compulsive eating.
- Iced tea in restaurants. Everyone else gets a drink, so you feel kind of lame drinking water. What's a person to do? Diet sodas are out. The carbonation leaches calcium out of your system and the chemicals, well, are chemicals. That leaves iced tea. The best way to go is herbal, because then you don't have to deal with the caffeine. But even if it's regular iced tea, it's not a ton of caffeine and it fills you up, so by the time you get pressed for dessert, you're already feeling plenty full.
- Veggie pig out. Have piles of fresh, bite-sized veggies on hand, whether it's for a party, for when you're cooking, or for when you're sitting around watching the tube. We're talking carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, mainly. Sure, they're not cheese puffs, but the thing is, you can absolutely go for it. Eat yourself crazy and it's just not going to do that much damage to your calorie count. Furthermore, you'll be filling up on vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Pre-meal water chug. Down a glass of water before you eat. Not only does it make you that much more full, but it's a glass of waterand we all need at least eight glasses a day!
- Big salad trick. You can basically eat salad until you grow long, fuzzy ears and a cotton-ball tail without harming your diet. The problem comes with the dressing. But there's a way around that. Next time you're having a huge salad, put it in a sealable container. Add a tablespoon or two of dressing, close the container and shake vigorously. You'll be amazed at much that stuff spreads around.
- Air-popped popcorn. Add a little salt, but that's it. You're just eating fiber, basically. Boring? Maybe, but not as boring as eating air, which is your other guilt-free choice. Just be sure to pop a good multi-vitamin if you're going to fill up on fiber.
For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.