Salads can be the healthiest options or high calorie disasters! When trying to eat right, it is important to know which items to include and which ones to leave off for the healthiest options!
Volumetrics is the idea of eating foods that keep you full with minimal caloric impact! Ali Miller, registered dietitian and natural foods consultant with Naturally Nourished is here to tell us how salads can be used to maximize your volume without breaking your calorie bank!
So what is volumetrics and how is is seen in foods? What is so healthy about salads or why do we want to eat leafy greens?
Greens are calorie for calorie some of the most nutrient dense foods available, rich in minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins (great source of folic acid)! They also provide a variety of phytonutrients or antioxidants including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which balance the body and protect against inflammation! These recipes will have you coming back for more! Aim for 3 cups a day!
And which items are those to watch out for?
Choose 2-3 high-calorie items and aim for those that provide some nutritional value.
And you say don’t skimp on the fat? Why?
Fat is important for helping us to absorb all of the nutrients in the vegetables. Some of these items are fat-soluble, so if you don’t consume a fat with them, you won’t gain the benefit! Also, when we choose reduced-fat or fat-free options, they are often filled with sugar, artificial colors/dyes, fillers, preservatives. When fat is removed and sugar is put in its place it will have deleterious effect on our health, raising our blood sugar, and storing fat in the body!
I suggest using whole non-processed sources of fats in your salad, such as avocado, olive oil in your home-made vinaigrette dressings, nuts/seeds, olives, and cheeses.
So how can we stay out of a simple salad rut? You say you have ways to switch up our salads? And some recipes to share?
Yes! You want to play with dynamic flavors. A vinaigrette will always have an acid, fat, aromatic (herb/spice), and emulsifier. So if you think about acids we have Vinegars including balsamic, red wine, champagne, peach balsamic, etc. and Citrus fruit including lemon, lime, orange. For fats we have our oils: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, avocado, etc. For aromatics we have dried spices/herbs or fresh herbs. For emulsifiers we have mustard, agave nectar, maple syrup, egg yolk, etc.
Now with that guidance you can make a variety of combos! Typically go for a 2:1 vinegar to oil ratio to keep it moderate calorie. Let’s look at 5 salad combos and 5 simple vinaigrettes to pair with them!
Start all 3 options with 3+ cups of leafy greens!
Lemon Honey Dressing: 1 Tbsp olive oil1 Tbsp lemon juice1 tsp honey1/8 tsp salt. Whisk together ingredients and toss green salad with 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/8 cup red onion, 2 Tbsp chopped nuts and 1/3 cup fruit of your choice.
Sesame Miso Dressing: 3 Tbsp white miso, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp honey, 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1/3 C fresh orange juice, ¼ C walnut oil, 1 scallion minced. Combine ingredients in a small jar, secure the lid and shake. Serve on green salad with spinach, orange segments, shaved cucumber, tempeh cubes, and chickpeas.
Southwest Smoked Dressing: 1/3 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp ground red pepper, 1/8 c olive oil. Whisk together ingredients and toss green salad with chicken breast, 1/4 avocado, 1 chopped bacon slice, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup pico.
On the Web:
Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE of Naturally Nourished RD — www.naturallynourishedRD.com