4 Tips to a Healthier Salad
Despite growing the perfect combination of veggies for a healthy plate, my father used to joke that salads were “rabbit food.” He was hardly alone. Many Africans loathe salads but in recent years the quest for health has led to a change in taste and salads are beginning to feature more often on African tables.
Despite being loaded with healthy, low fat, low calorie vegetables, salads may cause unintended weight gain and consequent ill-health. The more cheese, dressing, composed salads, bacon, nuts and other high fat toppings you add to your healthy vegetables, the more calories you pack on.
To make sure your salad is healthy, try building it this way:
1. Pick your base carefully. Start with a bed of dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, romaine, arugula, kale and red leaf lettuce. The darker the leaf, the higher the nutrient content. Keep in mind that while iceberg lettuce is a highly popular choice, it contains about 95% water and does not provide as many nutrients its darker counterparts.
2. Eat in color. The more colorful your salad, the more the disease fighting, health enhancing anti-oxidants and nutrients your body gets. Great toppings for this layer include beets, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, avocados, grapes, corn, oranges, apples ….the list goes on. Make it a rainbow!
3. Add a source of protein. Ever eat a salad for lunch only to find yourself hungry soon afterwards? Most likely you did not add enough protein which balances meals and promotes satiety. Grilled chicken breast, wild salmon, tuna, sardines, lean beef , kapenta (daaga, omena), biltong, turkey, beans, nuts, soya and legumes are all great options for this layer. Aim to top your salad with least 3 oz (~84 g) of protein.
4. Go easy on the dressing. I know what you are thinking….”The dressing makes the salad!” However, salad dressing can pack as much as 70 calories per tablespoon and adding the usual 2 tablespoons can certainly add calories. Reduce the overall portion of dressing that you use and as much as possible choose oil and vinegar based dressings as opposed to the creamy ones which tend to have more fat and calories.
Remember, a salad is only good if it is eaten so make sure to include veggies and fruits that you actually like.
Here’s to your health!
For more recipes and cultural stories, visit: The African Pot Nutrition
(Featured image courtesy of Wonderlane, Flickr)