Building Better Salads- Part 2

Salad Dressings.

Salad Dressing IllustrationIs it just me or does everyone have at least 6 almost-empty bottles of salad dressing in their fridge? I’m sure this is a trait I picked up from my mother and it drives my husband insane. If you’re like most people, a salad just isn’t complete until it has the perfect dressing to tie all those nutritious ingredients together. While there appears to be hundreds of varieties of dressings available at the grocery store, choosing the right salad dressing not only creates the perfect salad ,but it can be beneficial to your health. Too often, our healthy salad creations are sabotaged by choosing the wrong salad dressing. Here are a few simple tips to help guide your next salad shopping adventure.

Don’t always go with the fat-free variety. There are several reasons why fat-free salad dressings are not the best selection. First of all, they don’t taste good…at all. I know this because during my early college years, I had convinced myself everything I ate had to be fat-free. Fat, along with sugar and sodium help flavor the foods found on the shelves at the grocery store. If you remove one of those elements, you’re going to have to add more of the other two in order to make up for lost flavor. We also need a healthy source of fat in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins that are found in the colorful vegetables that make up our salads.

Do monitor portion sizes. A serving of salad dressing is 2 Tbsp which is about the size of a golf ball. If you don’t’ trust yourself in only pouring 2 Tbsp on your salad, serve your salad dressing on the side and dip the tip of your fork into the dressing before each bite. This is a great technique to help control your portion size of salad dressing and it can also help slow down your speed of eating.

Don’t dress your salad too early. You only need to make this mistake once before learning this lesson. It was one of the first holidays I was spending with my boyfriend/now husband’s family. I decided to prepare a delicious spinach salad with a homemade salad dressing for everyone. Unfortunately, I put the salad dressing on the salad an hour before it was served and left everyone with a soggy, sad representation of my culinary skills.

Do try to choose a vinaigrette dressing more often.

  • Vinaigrettes spread easier than other dressings. This can help you keep your portion size of salad dressing under control.
  • The consumption of vinegar before a meal may have beneficial effects on postprandial blood sugar spikes which can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.long
  • Try making your own vinaigrettes at home by using heart-healthy olive oil as your base. A simple balsamic vinaigrette only needs:
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tsp dark brown sugar (optional)
    • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp ground pepper
    • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Do be adventurous. I was always scared of choosing vinaigrette in the past simply because of the word “vinegar”. By trying new foods, I have discovered that some of my favorite dressings are different blends of vinaigrette’s like citrus-lime or roasted red pepper. salad-dressing-aisle

Choose Your Snack Wisely

Snacktime isn’t just for kids. Snacking can be a part of a healthy diet for adults, too! Just like mealtimes, good, nutritious snacks take thought, preparation and planning. Poor planning can result in unhealthy, convenient snack choices, such as candy, chips, pastries, crackers and soda.

One snacking mentality that I try to help people break is that “snacks” = “desserts.” Unfortunately, for a lot of people, this snacking-dessert association developed during childhood.  This is why it is so important to teach your kids at an early age to make healthy snack choices.

A healthy snack for most people typically ranges from 100-300 calories, depending on time between meals and how physically active you are. Some people believe that skipping snacks helps you save calories during the day, but healthy snacks may actually help you from overeating at your next meal. Snacks are also a great opportunity to consume nutrients that we need every day.

The perfect snack is hard to come by but here are some options I enjoy!

The perfect snack is hard to come by but here are some options I enjoy!

Try these healthy snack options from EatWell

Try these healthy snack options from EatWell

Remember, the best time to have a snack is when you are physically hungry for one! There are many influences that can make having a snack “sound like a good idea” but the real reason to snack is to satisfy an internal cue of hunger. Good snackers are able to distinguish the difference between physical and emotional hunger cues.

Emotional cues can be triggered by stress, boredom, even your co-workers. Planning ahead by cutting vegetables, buying fresh fruit or throwing some nuts in a Ziploc can help you satisfy those physical hunger cues in a more nutritious way.

Be careful not to overeat when snacking. This often occurs when we are distracted while snacking (on the computer, watching TV, talking/socializing). Distractions can lead to “mindless eating” habits that occur when we lose touch with our internal cues of hunger/satiety because our focus is on something else. A simple way to help prevent overeating is to pre-portion your snack instead of eating directly from the box, bag, container, etc. That way you know exactly how big your serving size is (instead of guessing how many handfuls of pretzels you’ve taken).

Tired of snacking on the same boring apple every day? Here are two handouts that can help spice up your snack options.

Snacking Tips for Adults

Kid Friendly Fruits and Veggies

Eat right, live well, and remember: When hunger attacks, make sure you grab a healthy snack!