Sunday, March 1, 2015

Salad Solutions

We all have this idea that salads are the magic solution to losing weight or staying svelte. While making a salad is a great way to up your veggie intake and get a little more fiber into your diet, you need to be mindful of what else is going down the hatch with that lettuce. I'll go over a few tricks I employ to keep the nutrition-value high and the negative-impact low (salt, high calories, and yes, even sugar).

First off, I'm a romaine girl. If we don't have romaine I'll go for iceberg, and occasionally I'll opt for a spinach salad-- but romaine ranks as my favorite.

I use others like arugula and kale in non-salad capacities. Sometimes I'll make smoothies and throw in some kale or top a frozen pizza some arugula. I even put arugula in a smoothie once because I didn't have any other suitable vegetables/greens, and it turned out pretty good! I was pleasantly surprised.

I always swap....
Roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I'll take about 1 cup of the mixed seeds, soak them in some warm water with a little salt for maybe 30mins. Then roast them in coconut oil @ 425 for 8 minutes, stir, then another 6-8 minutes.

They add the crunch that I miss from getting rid of croutons.

My favorite salads:
(all dressings are "edited" :: see below)

Brunch salad:
(+) 1c romaine
(+) 1 diced hard-boiled egg
(+) 1 strip extra crispy bacon, crumbled
(+) 1/2 small tomato
(+) diced red/yellow/orange pepper
(+) a little cheese (if we have smoked gouda, I'll usually go for that.
(+) roasted seeds
(+) Balsamic dressing or mustard dressing

Sandwich salad
(+) 1c romaine
(+) 1 slice deli turkey
(+) shredded cheese
(+) diced red/yellow/orange pepper
(+) diced pickle (if I have stackers, I'll use one; if it's a spear, I'll use maybe 1/2)
(+) roasted seeds
(+) Balsamic or mustard dressing

Caesar salad
(+) 1c romaine
(+) 2-3 tbs fresh romaine
(+) roasted seeds
(+) if we have leftover chicken, I'll use that
(+) Caesar dressing

Monochrome salad
(+) 1c romaine
(+) cucumber
(+) roasted seeds
(+) TomaCado dressing
(+) because is not very colorful, I'll sometimes throw in other chopped veg if we have them on-hand

Spinach salad
(+) 1c spinach
(+) 4-5 walnuts
(+) 1/3 diced apple (I like the skin on)
(+) a few sliced grapes (if we have them)
(+) roasted seeds
(+) Balsamic dressing

Dressing Dilemmas
Mindless pouring of dressing is where a lot of people end up turning their salads into something light and nutritious... into something calorie-dense (you're still getting the nutrients from the veg-- but you've now smothered them in salty/sugary goop.

I've come up with a few solutions so I don't lose out on the flavor of the dressing, but still maintain the caloric integrity of the salad.

Mustard Dressing

(+) spicy mustard
(+) grainy mustard
(+) swish in a little water

Makes for a really light, but flavorful dressing. I love this whenever I use egg or deli meat in my salads

(+) 1/3 mashed avocado
(+) 2-3 tbs tomatillo salasa
(+) a little water
(+) sometimes I'll mix in a little srirracha if I want it a little extra zingy

This one was born out of boredom. I had made a salad for lunch and we were having another as a side for dinner. I opened the fridge and just took out a few things that I thought might go together. Success!

This one is super easy. For the first few uses, I just pour some dressing into a little bowl and dilute it with water. Same flavor, fewer... other things.

On many store-bought dressings, they add copious amounts of sugar and/or salt. By diluting it, you're reducing the weird shit in 1 serving AND you're stretching it so it lasts longer.

Creamy Dressings
This is a play on the same theme as the Balsamic dilution strategy. I cut anything creamy with Greek yogurt. Just pour it into a little
bowl, a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, and a little bit of water so it mixes better.

I do this to Caesar and ranch dressings. I also do it to anything involving mayo: mixing it into chicken salad, tartar sauce, etc...

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