Maureen Auricchio- Contributing Writer
You hear the word salad and all you imagine is a bowl of green leaves with vegetables on top. Yet, if you choose a dark colored green like spinach and top that with vibrant colored vegetables, you have an exciting salad that pops. Out of all the greens you can choose from, spinach is a great source of nutrients. It carries folate, vitamins A and K and is loaded with fiber. Top your spinach with red, yellow, orange, purple and green vegetables; the deeper the color, the more nutrients it carries. The color of the salad will make it more appealing and different textures make each bite unique.
-A red pepper has more vitamins than a yellow pepper.
-Peppers are loaded with vitamin C, which can help reduce the length of a cold.
-Carrots have vitamin A, which helps protect your eyes.
-Cucumbers have vitamin K, which helps your blood clot.
-Tomatoes carry antioxidants and can help lower total cholesterol levels.
Top the vegetables with dried or fresh fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, avocado or strawberries. Strawberries contain antioxidants and avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Add some nuts like chopped walnuts or even sunflower seeds. Walnuts are known to be heart healthy and can help to decrease the risk of heart disease. Finish off the salad by adding an oil based dressing vs a cream based dressing; this can cut the calories.
Oil dressings include balsamic dressings or simply oil and vinegar. Olive oil is a great oil to use. It is a monounsaturated fat that has proven in moderation to aid in decreasing levels of blood pressure and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
There are many different kinds of salads you can make if the generic salad isn’t for you. The classic tomato, mozzarella topped with basil and balsamic vinegar is always a favorite. Mozzarella cheese is a great source of calcium. Basil leaves have a unique, strong flavor and makes a great pair with balsamic vinegar. Basil is an excellent source of iron and is very low in calories.
Another type of salad is the Greek Salad. Typically this salad is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, feta cheese, and olives topped with salt, oregano and olive oil. This Mediterranean dish is a great summer salad and the tomatoes and cucumbers are a refreshing addition. Feta is a soft cheese made of goat’s milk with a flavor that is tangy and bold. However this cheese is high in saturated fat, and eating too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease. So watch out for how much cheese you top your salad with. However, an ounce of feta cheesecontains an adult’s daily requirement of calcium: 1,000 to 1,200 mg. Olives are considered a fat, but these are the good fats that don’t raise the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). The calories of olives come from fat primarily, about eight black olives will be around 45 calories and 5g of fat.
Salads don’t always have to be boring, just by taking the time to cut a couple vegetables and throw some nuts on top will help to develop flavor. Change up the way you make your salad once in a while in order to avoid monotony. And who knows, if you make a visually appealing salad you could get your friends hooked on them too