By Mary Pletsch 15 Feb 2022 no comment 536 Views

Did you know that a salad can be more unhealthy than a burger?

For the last two weeks we talked about how to make healthy sandwiches.  Sandwiches have an undeserved bad reputation for being unhealthy.  When made from healthy ingredients, sandwiches can be convenient, delicious and healthy meals filled with nutrients, protein, and fibre.

Similarly, salads aren’t automatically healthy!

What is an unhealthy salad?

To begin, avoid “salads” that consist mostly of refined white flour noodles in mayonnaise based sauces.  Macaroni salad, Asian inspired noodle salad and Italian or Greek pasta salads are common offenders.   Refined flour has very little fibre and very few nutrients.  It is also high in calories.

If you’d like to make a pasta salad, use whole-grain flour.  Keep a good proportion between noodles and fresh vegetables.  The more veggies, the better!  Dress it with olive oil and lemon or lime juice or vinegar.  Add herbs and spices for flavour.  Go easy on the salt.

Balance your meals.  If you’re looking for a salad to go alongside your sandwich, fresh vegetables are the way to go, since you’re already getting your grains in the sandwich.  Pasta-and-vegetable salads go better alongside a grilled chicken breast or piece of fish and another vegetable.

Beware commercial dressings

Be similarly cautious when nutritious vegetables have been smothered in high-calorie commercial sauces that are typically laden with sugar, salt, saturated fats and preservatives.   This is another recipe for an unhealthy salad.

Instead, top your vegetables with a dressing that’s made with healthy fats.  Healthy fats help your body absorb nutrients.  Olive oil with herbs, spices, and lemon juice or vinegar is an excellent choice for salad dressing.

Avoid “fat free” salad dressing.  These dressings often have extra salt, sugar and flavourings added to improve their taste.  Plus, you don’t get the health benefits of unsaturated fats.  Your body needs some of these “good” fats to get the full nutrition from your meal.

Salad as a meal

If your salad is your entire meal, make sure it contains enough protein.  Chicken slices, chick peas, shrimp, lentils, salmon, nuts, turkey, beans, tuna and seeds are all excellent salad toppings.  Protein will help you to feel satisfied.  Eating a “salad” consisting of nothing but lettuce will soon have you feeling hungry again.

Skip refined white flour croutons, greasy bacon bits and artificial bacon flavoured “bits.”  Also remember to be moderate with cheese.

Enjoy your salad!

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