When comparing a Crispy Chicken and Ranch Salad to a Spinach Grilled Chicken Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad which do you think has the most nutritional value? They both sound very tasty but the Spinach Grilled Chicken Balsamic Vinaigrette is going to have more health benefits than the Crispy Chicken and Ranch. Depending on how you dress your salads, they can be a tasty AND healthy meal. The USDA guidelines suggest eating approximately 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day and what better way to contribute towards this than to make yourself a delicious, nutrition packed salad!
Tips for Dressing Your Salad to the Highest Benefit
1. The Darker, The Better
As a rule of thumb, the darker the green, the more nutritious it is. Pick darker greens for more nutrient value – i.e. spinach over iceberg lettuce.
2. Dressing Properly
Try a vinaigrette dressing on your favorite salad – Balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette dressings are a more health conscious choice when compared to cream based dressings like ranch or blue cheese.
To keep your salad dressing portion under control, try dipping your fork in the dressing before piercing your salad instead of pouring the dressing over the entire salad.
3. Get Colorful
Aim for a rainbow salad! The more COLOR you add – the more nutritional value you will bring to your salad and the combination possibilities are endless! Find your favorite:
Vegetables: carrots, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, edamame, mushrooms, olives, beats, sprouts, etc.
Fruits: craisins, raisins, apples, mandarin oranges, pineapples, grapes, avocado, berries, etc.
4. Pack in Some Protein
Don’t forget the protein! Lean meats like chicken and seafood like salmon or shrimp taste great on salads! However, try to steer away from “crispy” or “fried” selections and look for options that are “grilled” or “baked.” Most restaurants will allow you to make substitutions so don’t be afraid to ask for grilled chicken instead of crispy.
Other, non-meat protein options you can add to your salad include boiled eggs, nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds), beans (kidney, black, garbanzo).
Written by: Deanne Emig, Weigh and Win Health Coach