NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Tasty & Healthy Salads

Tasty & Healthy Salads


          Cool, light and tasty are words that come to mind when thinking of salads.  Salads can offer a low fat, low calorie meal for those looking for a light lunch or dinner.  However, a salad can quickly become a fat-laden, calorie-heavy choice if the right selections aren’t made when creating your favorite salad.

          With vegetables at their core, salads are great sources of vitamin C, and the leafiest among them supply plenty of that “foliage” vitamin, folate. The most colorful combinations—spiked with tomatoes, carrots, cabbages or bell peppers—also deliver vitamin A (as beta carotene), lycopene and other key phytonutrients.

          Start with a base of any darker colored greens, such as romaine or spinach. The darker the lettuce, the more nutrients it has.  

          Next add veggies, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots and beets. Most veggies have fiber, which doesn’t add calories or fat, but helps you feel full longer because of the sponge-like effect of fiber. Try to choose a rainbow of colors for your salad.      

          For protein, add kidney, pinto or garbanzo beans. Beans add both flavor and fiber. Grilled chicken, ham or plain tuna (no mayonnaise) is also a good choice to add some protein without adding extra fat. Cheese and eggs also add protein to a salad, but limit the amount you use as they can also raise the fat and calorie content.

          Salad dressing is a must and enhances flavor, but use low-fat or fat-free versions. Some dressings can raise the fat and calorie content of a salad close to the equivalent of eating a cheeseburger and fries. This is a hidden trap many of us fall into while enjoying a salad. As an alternative, place your dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing before each bite. This will reduce the amount of dressing you use, but still have the flavor of the dressing in each bite.

          For added crunch, sunflower seeds can add protein, fiber and healthy fat, but enjoy in moderation to keep the fat and calorie content lower.  Look for low-fat croutons as another crunchy addition.


Simple Spinach Salad


Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

4 hardboiled eggs

6 cups baby spinach

4 tablespoons low-fat Blue Cheese dressing

1 8-ounce can beets, rinsed and sliced

1 cup carrots, shredded

2 tablespoons chopped nuts of your choice


          Toss spinach and 2 tablespoons dressing in a large bowl. Divide between 2 plates. Top with chopped eggs, beets, carrots and nuts. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons dressing.

          Nutrition Info (per serving): 300 calories; 13 g fat; 216 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrates; 22 g protein; 8 g fiber; 823 mg sodium; 592 mg potassium.


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