Summer Salads

Bowl of SaladRobust nourishment or calorie overload?

Salads are often recognized as a healthy food choice – whether you are eating at home or in a restaurant – and the types of foods that can be combined in a salad are quite varied.

However, many of the salads offered as entrees in restaurants could be more properly categorized as desserts when you consider the sugar content and total calories. Candied nuts, dried fruit, sweet salad dressings (especially the fat-free variety) come loaded with sugar that will sabotage your eating plan.

You can bypass sneaky salad sugars and boost your nutrient intake by adding these ingredients to your salad:

Dark, leafy greens – a vital source of a wide range of nutrients, this type of vegetable is often missing from our modern diet. Use a variety of these (kale, spinach, Romaine, etc) as the basis of your salad to help meet your quota. If you find one type of greens too strong in flavor, include a small amount with a variety of greens and you won’t notice it as much.

Avocado – these anti-aging powerhouses used to be avoided due to their higher calorie content, but are now recognized as an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, fiber and valuable nutrients. Slice on your salad or mix in your dressing to treat your taste buds and body.

Fresh berries – a little sweetness can be a delightful addition to your salad, but dried fruit quickly turns your salad into a sugar bomb. Add some fresh berries to boost your salad with flavorful nutrients, antioxidants and fiber.

Lentils – you can increase the protein level of your salad by adding one cup of cooked lentils. As a legume, lentils don’t contain sulfur that thus don’t create the gas you may experience from beans. Leave the meat off your salad and add lentils to help stabilize blood sugar, increase energy levels and improve fat loss.

Nuts – can add a wonderful crunch to your salad, along with beneficial fiber and healthy fats. Just 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds bring a welcome upgrade to any salad.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – is a fat that can help you lose fat. Yes, you read that correctly! An 18-month Harvard study showed that overweight people who consumed moderate amounts of monunsaturated fats like EVOO lost 9 pounds, while those who followed a low-fat diet actually gained 6 pounds. Skip the creamy, sugary salad dressings and instead top your salad with EVOO and red wine vinegar. Yum!

What’s your approach to salads? If you find that the common garden salad is too boring, try adding some of these ingredients to upgrade your flavor and nutrient profile.

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