When my son was little he thought lettuce was called "salad" and would ask me not to put "salad" on his sandwich. He was so cute. Still is! But he's all grown up now and knows that there's a lot more to most salads than just lettuce.
That can be both good and bad.
Many of us have mistakenly believe that if it's called "salad" it's automatically healthy. The fact is, salads can be terrible for you.
On the other hand, salads can be one of the best things you can eat.
In fact, I make it a goal to eat a GOOD salad every night. Good salads contain as a base, good lettuce. Iceberg, the traditional lettuce, is okay if only for the wonderful fiber it provides. Gotta keep those pipes clean! But iceberg doesn't have much in the way of nutritional value.
There are more nutritious varieties of lettuce, such as Romaine, which is an excellent source of vitamins C, A, K, manganese, beta carotene and chromium. Kale is off the charts, nutritionally speaking, so I love to mix the two greens together as a base.
Now the toppings. Great salads are loaded with tons of fresh, raw vegetables Just go nuts.I personally make sure to put lots of broccoli on all my salads because it's one of the most nutritious of all vegetables. I especially like its cancer-fighting qualities. Anything bright in color is also especially good, such as sweet, red peppers.
You may want to try this little trick: on the weekend wash and chop a big ol' mess of veggies and mix them up and put them in a container with a paper towel on the bottom and on top. Also wash and chop your greens and put them in a zip-lock bag (or two), lined with paper towels. That way, when it's time to eat your salad, it only takes a few minutes to put it all together.
Some other healthy additions to salads include nuts. Some of the most nutritious are walnuts, which are high in Omega-3s. Also almonds. But make sure the nuts on your salad are raw, not roasted, salted, and especially, not sugar-coated!
Protein is a great addition to a salad, too, especially if you are making it your meal. Beans are a fabulous source of protein. Canned beans are cheap and easy, but make sure to rinse them off before you put them on your salad because they often are packed in too much salt.
Salmon is my favorite addition to a salad. But make sure not to fry it in too much oil. No breading. Baked is best. Turkey and chicken are also healthful additions, but again, make sure they are cooked in a light manner. Stay away from pork and red meat on your salads.
Although cheese is a source of protein, it is very fattening. So if you can, avoid it altogether or else put just a very little on. I am a cheese lover, so I indulge in a SMALL amount of goat cheese or feta on my salads.
Lastly, be careful about the salad dressing. This is where most people really blow it. Creamy dressings or ones that are based in oil can be very high in calories. The healthiest salad dressing is olive oil and vinegar. There are many wonderful flavors of vinegar and you can add dijon mustard and seasonings.
But again, watch the amount. Just one tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories. Some low-cal salad dressings, (although in my opinion they taste terrible) can be mixed with your homemade olive oil dressing to cover the salad without too many calories.
So by all means, eat a salad!! Just be discerning about what it contains.