By Elizabeth Martyn
Surely salad is always healthy...or is it? Actually, it's horribly easy to wreck a healthy salad by adding the wrong ingredients. Follow these tips, and your salads will always do you good.
Choose healthy, unprocessed proteins. You might want a main-course salad to be a bit more sustaining than just leaves and salad veggies. But make sure you add the right things. Steer clear of processed meats - canned frankfurters, breadcrumbed fried chicken, cheap and nasty packaged ham. These pile on the fat and are crammed with additives. Instead, broil or poach a fresh, free range or organic chicken breast, slice thinly and voila! A healthy, satisfying salad.
Go easy on cheese. A cheese salad is quick and easy to make, but don't be over-generous when you pile the cheese on to your plate. Cheese is a dense, high-fat food, and just a couple of tablespoons of grated Cheddar will boost your salad's calorie count by 100 or more.
Use wholegrains or pulses. You can make the most delicious salads using cold wholewheat pasta, wholewheat cous cous, quinoa (a high protein, low fat grain), brown rice or lentils. With any of these, simply cook and cool, stir through chopped salad veg, herbs and perhaps some flaked tuna, smoked mackerel, diced hard-boiled egg or chicken and dress lightly.
Choose healthy salad dressings. Avoid the higher fat options like mayonnaise. If you use a vinaigrette or creamy dressing, add it sparingly, don't drench the ingredients. For a healthier option, spark up your salad with lime juice, tomato salsa, and plenty of chopped fresh herbs.
Get the right leaves. Turn your back on tasteless lettuces like the ubiquitous Iceberg. Look for the darker green leaves, which are full of nutrients. Think baby spinach, arugula (rocket), shredded Cos lettuce, mixed salad leaves, watercress. Buy any fresh herbs that are in season, such as parsley, tarragon, basil, dill, and shred these into your salad for lots of fragrant flavour.
Make this the summer that you switch to healthy salads. They can be just as interesting - and considerably tastier - than less healthy offerings.
Elizabeth Martyn is author of a great little ebook: 50 Healthy Salad Recipes. On her site Healthy Eating Made Easy, she strives to answer the perennial question – "What shall we eat tonight?" – with information, tips and recipes. This article may be published electronically or in print in its entirety as long as the author by-lines in the resource box are included and urls kept live.
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