Merriam Webster Dictionary tells us that a salad is any of the various “usually cold dishes” including raw greens, vegetables and toppings. It is served with dressing or small pieces of food, or usually mixed with a dressing or set in gelatin.
What is your family’s definition of a salad? What you choose to make a salad out of is up to you. Summer and fall are the perfect seasons to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to use for salads. Many self-proclaimed “non-veggie eaters” will eat salads, and children with an aversion to cooked vegetables will sometimes eat vegetables if they are raw and cut up or served with low-fat vegetable dip. Raw vegetables may be more appealing to the eye and palate in the form of salads or appetizers as opposed to cooked vegetables with a meal. If you live with a meat-and-potatoes person who will not eat vegetables, or a picky child who drops half of their cooked vegetables on the floor for the dog, try more salads and raw vegetables.
Creamy Broccoli Salad
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1/4 cup chopped red onions
- 1/4 cup cranberries, dried cherries, or raisins
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 2 strips bacon crumbled or 2 T bacon bits
- 1/2 cup light or low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 T sugar substitute
- 1 T cider vinegar or vinegar
1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl
2. Combine mayonnaise, sugar substitute, and vinegar, stirring well.
3. Add dressing to broccoli mixture, and toss to coat
4. Cover and chill for 1 hour or chill all contents before preparation.
Recipe courtesy of Shannon Bloodworth, MA, RD, CSG, LD/N
Salads don’t have to be just vegetables or a side dish that starts with lettuce. Try a mixed greens salad with the addition of strawberries and pears or dried fruit such as cranberries and cherries. Salads can pack a protein punch when packed with nuts and seeds, hard boiled eggs, low-fat cheeses or even lean poultry or fish. They can also double as entrees. Try topping a salad with grilled chicken or adding a scoop of tuna salad to a bed of greens.
Salads can provide a wide array of nutrients. Choose dark leafy greens for a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. Avoid high-fat salad dressings made from creams and cheeses, and choose low-fat and vinaigrette types of dressings to keep your salad low in fat and calories. Avoiding the addition of excessive amounts of cheese, bacon and croutons to salads, which can often add the fat and calories equivalent to that of a cheeseburger, will also keep your salads on the slimmer side.
Salads can sometimes be the source of high-fat and calories. Picture your summer picnic with potato salad, macaroni salad and three bean salad. Many of these salads are often made with high-fat mayonnaise or salad dressings, cheeses and bacon. Remember: for the least fat and calories choose those salads made with oil and vinegar or low-fat dressings.
Fruit salads are another delicious option that can be made quickly. Chop and dice a variety of fruits and mix together … try serving it in a hollowed-out watermelon for more eye appeal. Fruit salads can be served with a dollop of whipped cream topping (use low-fat or sugar-free) or used to make yogurt parfaits. Fruit can also be added to flavored gelatin for a sweet side salad again using sugar-free gelatin for a lower calorie treat or dessert.
The amount of fruit and vegetables a person needs each day varies by age, gender and calorie needs. The USDA recommends that at least half of your plate be filled with fruit and non-starchy vegetables. To work on changing your diet or for suggestions to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, ask your VA primary care provider for a referral to your dietitian, or the MOVE! weight management program if you are interested in losing weight. Also, check with your VA medical center’s nutrition department to see if cooking demonstrations are available in your area. Remember fruit and veggies can fit into your diet anywhere, and not just in salads. Check out this video for a quick and easy smoothie idea and a great way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet.
Blog Submitted By Kasey Metz, MS, RD
Clinical Dietitian – Dayton, OH VA Medical Center