Tossing Together a Few Thoughts About Salad
How about a salad for lunch or dinner?
Well, for many of us, the word salad denotes a bowl of cut greens, sliced tomato, purple Bermuda onion, a slice or two of cucumber, and a couple of croutons. For too many of us this represents the only form of raw vegetables that we get in our diets.
I love food and I wouldn’t consider myself extremely health conscious. My love for food has led me to study nutrition at one time which has aided me in my approach to sound nutritional cooking. However, I have always enjoyed a tasty salad.
Common sense tells us that a salad is safe nutrition. I have never polled or asked but it’s probably the first thing that I think of when I consider eating healthy or losing weight. I predict that this is a very common thought process.
Due to financial constraints, dining out frequently is not a realistic option. It costs too much – in both cash and calories. However, salads crafted at home seem to be a hassle – and they just don’t seem to have the same flare.
What I would like to do with this blog is give us a different idea of what a salad is and, subsequently, make it simpler to enjoy great salads at home.
The first thing I would ask you: What are your thoughts on a salad bar? If you have never eaten at one, I would suggest going to your local grocery store that offers a salad bar. You can either put together a salad from the salad bar or simply look at the ingredients that they have available.
What do you like to have in your salad? Your options are many.
Here are some ideas.
First, buy your favorite greens mixture, and then grab your standard tomato and cucumber.
You can stay as simple or get as complex as you want. You have the basics on your plate.
Here are some options for fresh, nutritious veggies you could add: Asparagus, green beans, snap peas, beets, corn, baby corn, radishes, sprouts, avocado, broccoli, artichokes and mushrooms. The list is practically endless.
In most cases, these vegetables are best blanched and shocked. Sound like a hassle? My suggestion is to have them as a vegetable side with dinner another night and make enough for leftovers. Another option is to use canned. This is not as beneficial as fresh… nutritionally speaking. My thought is that if it keeps you eating salads then they are beneficial. Try getting low-sodium varieties.
Protein options are plentiful. There’s grilled chicken or steak, seafood, hardboiled eggs and canned tuna for starters. There is more planning for proteins, as with vegetables, but you could use the same philosophy as your veggies and prepare extra for meals.
Cheeses may be thought of as unneeded additional fat calories. Used in excess, they could be. But unprocessed cheeses are beneficial to the digestive process and are very healthful. Grocery stores offer small portions of feta, bleu, goat (chevre), fresh mozzarella, pepper jack, cheddar and so on. These are all nice options to kicking your salad up a notch.
For your toppings, try croutons, chow mein noodles, nuts, raisins, craisins, fresh herbs, and even composed salads such as potato salad and pasta salad.
Your dressing is best made from EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) which is a healthy fat. The amount of dressing should be minimized to what you need to enjoy your salad, keeping in mind that there can be a lot of calories per tablespoon of your favorite fatty dressing. It adds up quickly.
So, what kind of salad will you enjoy with your next meal?
Executive Chef Michael Davis, CEC, is a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation. He believes that the creative innovation of wholesome foods is the best approach to eating. For more information, contact Chef Davis at MrChefDavis@gmail.com