Having salads is a super healthy choice for lunch or dinner. By eating vegetables raw, you avoid the loss of nutrients in cooking and get the maximum dosage of antioxidants and water-soluble vitamins. Vegetables are very low in calories, high in fiber and are ideal for weight control. However, because plain lettuce and tomatoes can be bland and dissatisfying, some people make the mistake of drowning their salad in fat-laden salad dressings. Not only are most prepackaged dressings calorie-loaded, they are also high in saturated fat, salt, sugar, preservatives and MSG. They also have almost zero nutritional value.
You can make delicious, satisfying and healthy salads without relying on the heavy use of dressings. Below are three things you can do to spruce up your salads with basic kitchen condiments and nutritious ingredients.
1. Use Yogurt
Unlike the non-nutritious pre-bottled dressings or mayonnaise, yogurts are loaded with health promoting nutrients. Not only do yogurts provide lots of proteins, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, the probiotic culture in yogurts can promote more efficient digestion and strengthen your immune system. Yogurts make a wonderful cream base for your dressing. You can use plain yogurt or try the fruity ones that are sweeter and more flavorful. Peach and mango yogurts go well with shrimp, crab or tropical salads, while berry flavored ones provide a more crisp and refreshing taste.
2. Try Different Vinegars
Vinegar is a indispensable ingredient in all salad dressings, mayonnaise and pickling juice. Its acidity not only brings out the zing in the flavors, it is also inhibits microbial growth and prevent you from getting food-borne illnesses from eating raw vegetables. You can make your own dressing from scratch by simply mixing together various seasonings, herbs, oils and vinegars. One example of this is the basic olive oil vinaigrette dressing. Be creative and try all varieties of vinegars. Apple cider vinegar is sweeter and less acidic than the sharper, more invigorating balsamic vinegar. Rice vinegar has a clean taste and works well for any Asian style salad.
3. Go Nutty
Remember that you salads should not be completely fat free. You need fat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in your vegetables. The addition of oil also makes your salad tasty and filling. One good way to do this is by tossing a small handful of nuts and seeds into your salad. You can use shredded almonds or sunflower seeds. You can also toast some walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews or sesame seeds for stronger aroma. These nuts not only improve the texture of your salad, they are also highly valuable for your health. Nuts contain cholesterol removing omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin E and a variety of other nutrients that are beneficial for your skin, heart and mind. They are also known for reducing your cancer risks and deterring your aging process. If you don’t have plain nuts handy, you can also use nut butters instead. Peanut, almond and cashew butters pair well with rice and balsamic vinegars to make creamy and delicious salad dressings.