|Emily Funcik Nutrition||
Emily Funcik Nutrition
|Emily Funcik Nutrition||
Emily Funcik Nutrition
Go with me here. Today we are going to be using “salad” as a verb. We’re going to put some life and action back into salads. Some enjoyment. Make salads work for us, not just hang around like stagnant, old obligations.
I’m going to call this “How to Salad like a Dietitian” because let me tell you, friends, we dietitians know how to salad. Most of us got into this business because we LOVE food- good food. Which comes as a surprise to many of the people I talk to. Many people think that if you are passionate about eating healthy food, you don’t have taste buds, and if you’re passionate about eating tasty food, you’re resigned to being unhealthy. Not true. Let’s fill our mouth with something delicious, while fueling our body with nutrients it loves and deserves. Let’s salad.
My base: Keep it simple. I try to keep a box of pre-washed, organic greens on hand. I don’t always buy organic, because we’re on a budget, but if it’s feasible for us, or on sale, I buy my greens organic. The darker the better here: use spinach, baby mixed greens, or spring mix instead of iceberg lettuce. By keeping these pre-washed items on hand, I increase the chance I’ll actually “salad” that day. Make eating healthy as convenient as possible!
My toppings: Toppings are key to having a delicious salad. We want to strike the right flavor/healthiness ratio here. If you can no longer see the greens because of all the cheese, meat, and creamy dressing, you’ve gone to far. If you still feel like you’re eating grass right out of the field- keep exploring your topping options. At it’s most basic, I’ve found a delicious salad starts with this equation:
Greens + fruit + nut = YUM
I absolutely love the bitter-sweet-salty combination of flavors you get from this. Again: look around and see what you have on hand. If nothing else, I throw some dried cranberries and sunflower seeds on top of spinach; add a little dressing and we have a great side dish. The nuts add a nice protein and fat profile, fruit lends a little carbohydrate to fuel your day, and the greens are packed with phytonutrients to help keep your system healthy.
Obviously you can go up from here. The day I happened to get my camera out, I also had some red bell pepper (great source of vitamin C), tomatoes, apple, and the kicker- FETA CHEESE! My husband will tell you, if there’s feta in the house, I do a happy dance. People seem to have this major guilt inside of them over putting cheese on their salad, but not this girl. Feta, or other strongly flavored cheeses, in my opinion make great salad toppings because you don’t need much to get a great hit of flavor. By keeping the portion of cheese relatively small, you have a great taste, without adding a ton of calories or excess fat. Leftover roasted veggies add an extra kick if you have them in the fridge. Lean proteins also can make a great topping: grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, or beans are just some examples!
The dressing: I use store bought dressing most often at home. I love it when I have time to make simple vinaigrette from scratch, but to be honest, mostly I’m too lazy for that. So when buying a dressing from the store, I usually look for vinaigrettes. Something with a fairly short, basic list of ingredients. Vinaigrettes typically include a very healthy source of unsaturated fat (like olive oil), which can be great for your cardiovascular system. I don’t typically buy “low fat” dressing, because I would rather include some healthy sources of fat in my diet and enjoy the flavor in moderation. I do try to keep my portion of dressing to about 1 tablespoon for a side salad; 2 tablespoons if it’s a dinner salad. Again, with the right toppings, you don’t need much dressing to feel satisfied. Seriously! Dressing of any kind is likely to be your major source of fat and calories, so use it sparingly.
If you make your own dressing, you have more control over the fat (and therefore the calorie) content. Using Greek yogurt in place of cream or sour cream in creamy dressing recipes will boost the protein content, while keeping calories lower. A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and a light drizzle of olive oil works in a pinch! Here are a few stats on name-brand dressings, so you can see the comparison between an oil-based and creamy dressing:
Marie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette: 45 calories in 2 Tablespoons, 4.5 g Fat, 0.5 g Saturated Fat
Brianna’s Caesar Dressing (creamy): 140 calories in 2 Tablespoons, 14 g Fat, 1.5 g Saturated Fat
Wow! Big difference! So by using the right type of fat and in the right quantity, you keep your salad working FOR you, not AGAINST you.
Remember - keep salads interesting. Use what you have on hand, and use the greens+fruit+nut equation optimal flavor. Let me know what you come up with! Go salad like a dietitian today!
My name is Emily Funcik, and I am a registered and licensed dietitian in Charleston, SC. I am also a stay-at-home mama, a wife, a foodie, and a dancer. I have a passion for healthy living, entertaining, and a deep-rooted loved of all things delicious.