Salads are refreshing and offer plenty of options


Pasquotank Extension director Ellen Owen mixes up the ingredients for her Strawberry Quinoa Salad.


By Ellen Owens
Pasquotank County Extension Office

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer has arrived, so it’s time to get the “skinny” on salad. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool summer salad on a hot day, and it’s even more refreshing when it’s filled with foods that are good for you.

Some folks believe that if an entrée has the word salad in its name, then it’s automatically a healthy choice — not true. Many salads that are listed on restaurant menus are loaded with fat and calories. Making salads at home is a healthier alternative, but if you eat salad in a restaurant, make sure you make smart choices about added toppings.

Consider these tips when choosing salad toppings:

Have fun with the greens. Instead of choosing plain iceberg lettuce, which has little nutritive value, choose greens such as kale, arugula, romaine, spinach or bibb lettuce.

Add more plain vegetables to your salad. You can have a variety of flavor and color when making the choice to add an extra cucumber or tomato to your salad. Some delicious additions to salad you may wish to try include: asparagus, frozen green peas, snow peas, cauliflower or summer squash.

Add fruit to your salad. Adding fruits is a good way to build salads with unique flavors. Good choices include strawberries, grapes, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, or pineapple chunks.

Pick a protein or two. If you are vegetarian, or even if you’re not, try tofu, beans or edamame on your salad for a change. If you prefer, choose lean proteins like chicken, fish or eggs. Added protein will help you stay fuller longer.

Add healthy fats to your salad. By adding healthy fats, your body can more readily absorb all of the nutrients in your healthy, veggie-filled salad. Try avocado, sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds as an interesting topping. If you are a cheese-lover, add a portion of your low-fat favorite into the mix. Remember, a serving of cheese is 1.5 ounces or about the size of four dice.

Make your own dressing. Making your own salad dressing is a way that you can control the calories and sodium. It’s easy, just requires a few ingredients, and a shaker or a reusable glass container. Homemade dressing tastes good and is easy on the budget. Compare the calories and sodium in the recipes with commercially made dressings. Remember, dressing is designed to enhance the flavors in your salad, so one to two tablespoons are sufficient.

Don’t let your salad sabotage your health; make healthier salad choices. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Ellen Owens is director for the Pasquotank County N.C. Cooperative Extension office.