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!