‘Tis the Season to Eat Great Salads

Thanks to an early Thanksgiving, the heavy eating season is now about 4 weeks old.  It’s been a tough one for me.  Not because I have attended so many parties, but because I have weathered two separate colds during that period.  As a result, my exercise regimen has slowed down at a time when the calorie intake has had a natural spike.  I have been reasonably disciplined, but a few more desserts here and an extra carb or two there and yes, it puts a toll on the waist line.  My favorite weapon at times like these is a good dinner salad.  I love a good dinner salad.

To me a good dinner salad is defined by three elements.  One is it needs to have a properly cooked piece of lean protein on top of it.  Think salmon and chicken, or even seafood like shrimp.  Second, I am very finicky about salad dressings.  I make my own.  My best tip here is to use a seasoned rice wine vinegar (make sure it is a brand with no MSG).  It is a lower acid vinegar with great taste.  Because it is lower acid, you only need about thirty percent of the oil that normal vinaigrettes call for in order to have a balanced dressing.  The third is to add other fruits and vegetables to your salad.  I love grilled mushrooms and asparagus.  Sliced apples and pears are great.  Pomegranate seeds are particularly beautiful for the season.

If you are going to garnish a salad with cheeses, be careful.  Cheeses are energy dense (caloric).  So I pick strong, more pungent cheeses that you don’t have to use a lot of to get a lot of flavor, like Chevre.

And here is a restaurant tip: if the salads on the restaurant menu look boring and don’t entice you, take a look at the protein oriented entrees.  Find one without sauce and ask them to substitute lettuce for the potatoes.  I have never been turned down.  It’s almost like creating your own salad.

If you put two to three dinner salads in your diet each week, you really have a good chance of offsetting that holiday dessert or appetizer you enjoyed a few days earlier.  But don’t let it affect your quality of eating.  Eat a great dinner salad!