Monday, July 20, 2009

Salads, salads, galore!

I love salads, always have. Not only are they a healthful start to lunch or dinner but they're a great meal in-and-of-themselves! I eat at least one big salad, if not two per day! And I'm not talking about a bowl of iceberg topped with sliced radishes, a couple carrot slivers and a teaspoon of fat free italian dressing. My salads are loaded with nutrients and flavor! To enjoy a salad it has to be satisfying! By that I mean adding a touch of indulgence that makes my tummy feel content after eating. Not as though I ate a bowl full of raw veggies with no staying power setting me up to devour something else. What does it for me is about an ounce of crumbled blue cheese, a tablespoon or two of dried fruit, and of course, a serving of homemade lower fat salad dressing. For a meal I add a beautifully grilled, juicy chicken breast or a portobello mushroom which takes the salad to another level! When I'm starving both the chicken and mushroom are added and it becomes a meal so good it's hard to believe it's healthy!

To many, salad just means lettuce. They think that as long as they have a bowl of greens whatever goes on top is fair game and healthy. WRONG! People take this to the extreme and load their "salads" with bacon bits, croutons, cheese, eggs, nuts and globs of rich, fatty salad dressing which usually ends up being worse than eating a double whopper! In their minds though, they ate a salad and they're eating healthfully. Again the trick is to be choosey! Pick one or two decadent options and sprinkle them sparingly. A half ounce of nuts and a half ounce of cheese, perhaps. Or try adding in substitutes that may replace the fattier ones. Use as many veggies as you can to cover as many different textures as possible. Being creative and experimenting will eventually lead to discovery! One should utilize these tips when making his or her own and when ordering out. Restaurants certainly aren't concerned about your health despite their claims. Take the Caesar as one example. Sure it looks rather simple and innocent but at most restaurants it's a gut buster! Traditional caesar is loaded with dressing and then piled with croutons and parmesan.

Salads are my go to meal. Not only do I love them but I know they make a healthful lunch or dinner that will never let me down. The key is how to order them! First and foremost I ask for dressing on the side. This allows me to dip my fork and use just enough dressing for one serving. I'm then selective about my toppings. I have a weakness for cobbs and boy can they do some damage to the mid-section! I also ask for my cobb to be free of bacon which is a great start. Once served I analyze how much blue cheese, avocado, and egg are served. Usually it's a conservative amount of each but in an attempt to keep the calories lower I try to push off some of the blue cheese, eat only the egg whites and allow myself all the avocado. Since it's an expensive fruit most restaurants only give you about three slices and becuase it's one of the healthiest fats in the world I figure I better eat it all!

Again, salads can be one of the greatest, healthiest meals or one of the worst. For me it's all about adding in just the right amount of little extras that leave me feeling satisfied and not deprived! The tablespoon is a much needed ally and will never let you down.

My perfect Salad!

3 cups organic romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small carrot peeled into strips of ribbon
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 large roma tomato or one small tomato
2 T dried cranberries, organic preferably
3-4 ounces grilled chicken
1 ounce high quality blue cheese, crumbled
2 T balsamic salad dressing. All natural (No soybean oil, preservatives, additives) or make your own.

Toss veggies with salad dressing and top with grilled chicken, crumbled cheese, and cranberries!

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