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Healthy Salads: Increase Your Veggie Intake

When it comes to increasing your veggie intake, healthy salads are a smart choice. While there are many ways to sabotage your healthy salad, there are also many ways to make it nutritious. For example, topping your greens with more raw veggies can provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Aside from getting the daily recommended intake, you want to consume diverse vegetables to get different nutrients. In addition, focus on more dark green and red and orange vegetables as they are more nutrient-dense and contain nutrients that we don’t usually get enough of (ex. folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and K).

Salad Greens
For a long time, iceberg, or head lettuce, was the main staple as a salad base. These days, common salad bases include Romaine and leaf lettuce (ex. green leaf, red leaf, butter, bibb), as well as spinach and kale. Not as popular, but gaining momentum are collard greens, escarole, mustard greens and turnip greens.

Lettuce greens contain nearly no calories nor sodium, and boast about a gram of fiber, a gram or two of carbohydrates, and barely a gram of protein per cup. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, romaine and leaf lettuce, contain more of certain nutrients (ex. vitamin A and C, potassium). Bottom-line: whichever salad base you choose, as long as you eat it, you are getting nutrients.

What can make or break your salad is the toppings and dressing. Adding more raw vegetables, such as cucumbers, peppers, or carrots, is a great option. It is the toppings like bacon, cheese, and fried chicken, as well as heavy, excessive amounts of dressing that you want to avoid.

Whether you’re eating at home or at a restaurant, here are some tips on keeping your salads healthy and nutritious.

At Home:

  • Try something new! Choose salad greens such as spinach, arugula, endive, escarole, or watercress as a base. Top your salad with colorful veggies such as radicchio, radishes, beets, peppers, and carrots.
  • Prep healthful salad toppers (cucumbers, peppers, red or green cabbage, carrots) ahead of time. That way, you can easily throw a healthy salad together.
  • Make use of leftovers, or simply enjoy a healthful dinner by creating an entrée salad.
  • Try adding nuts, seeds, olives, raisins, dried cranberries, wheat germ, or flax to your salads to create texture, crunch, and nutrition.
  • Make your own salad dressing by blending a healthy oil and your favorite vinegar, herbs, spices, and garlic in a food processor.

Salad Bar:

  • Start your salad base with a mound of greens – the darker the better. Then pile on the veggies.
  • If you must, allow yourself small portions of higher-calorie items such as cheese, pasta, or potato salad.
  • Ladle only a tablespoon or two of your favorite dressing, then spread it with drizzles of vinegar or squeezes of lemon wedges.

Fast Food Restaurants:

  • Use only a portion of the large packet of dressing.
  • When available, opt for half orders.
  • Avoid salads with high-fat items (ex. fried chicken, Chinese noodles, candied nuts, and cheese).

Sit-Down Restaurants:

  • Start with an appetizer salad to fill up.
  • Split a side or entrée salad (restaurant portions are often generous).
  • Request the kitchen go light on ingredients that are higher in fat and calories, such as avocado, cheese, and bacon.
  • Order salad dressing on the side – this will help you control the portion. Drizzle it gingerly or lightly dip each bite.

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Enjoy a healthy salad or yummy sandwich with us today! We’re located at 105 East Arrow Highway in Pomona and we are open weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.