Summer Salad and Dressing!
Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD
Meals on Wheels of San Antonio
Are you having a hard time getting in all your vegetables in for the day? A great way to do this is through salads! A lot of the time we think of salad as plain lettuce drenched in a creamy dressing. Not only is this a boring way to eat salad, but the excess dressing only adds extra calories, which turns it into an unhealthy meal. There are many different ways to make a salad delicious, while still keeping it healthy! A great way to do this is to start with the dressing. A common favorite dressing is ranch because of its creamy texture and rich flavor, but unfortunately it is high in calories and fat. In only one tablespoon of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, there are 70 calories and 7 grams of fat. But that doesn’t mean all creamy dressings need to be off the table! Below, I included a recipe for a homemade Creamy Yogurt Avocado Dressing that may possibly be a new favorite in place of ranch! It still has a creamy texture, but with only a quarter of the calories and almost half of the sodium. Let’s compare the nutrition facts of a store bought ranch dressing to our homemade recipe!
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1 tbsp: 70 kcal, 7g fat (1.25 sat, 0 mono) 5mg cholesterol, 1g CHO, 0 mg K, 0.5g protein, 0g fiber, 130mg Na, 0% Ca
Homemade Creamy Yogurt Avocado Dressing
1 tbsp: 16 kcal; 1g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono) 0mg cholesterol; 2 g CHO, 61 mg K, 1g protein; 1g fiber; 80 mg Na, 3% Ca
There are also a bunch of other health benefits that come from the Greek yogurt and avocado. Greek yogurt has probiotics which, as we said in a previous blog, benefits our GI tract by getting rid of the bad bacteria in our gut. It also is a good source of calcium and protein. Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat, which is a healthy fat. By having monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fat or trans-fat in our diet, we can help lower our cholesterol and triglyceride levels in our body, which lowers our risk of heart disease. Avocados are more than just a good source of fat. They are also packed full of other healthy nutrients such as fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and much more! As you can see, making homemade salad dressing is a healthy option, and also can be fun! Since you are able to determine what ingredients to add and how much of each, you can make the dressing to your specific taste.
Creamy Yogurt Avocado Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, quartered
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place avocado, cilantro, yogurt, scallions, garlic, lime juice, sugar and salt in a blender; blend until smooth.
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate leftover dressing for up to 3 days.
Now, the dressing isn’t the only important part of the salad; we need something to put it on! It’s important that the salad has enough protein to help keep us satisfied so we won’t be hungry soon after eating. Not only are animal products a great source of protein, such as chicken, pork, beef, etc, but there are also non-animal products as well! Beans and lentils are a quick way to add protein to any recipe. They can be purchased dried or canned. Canned beans are the quicker option, but it’s important to purchase low-sodium or no salt added cans and also to rinse the beans well before adding them.
When looking for greens to add to your salad, pick ones that are dark and rich in color, such as spinach. Lettuces that are light green, such as iceberg lettuce, are not very nutrient dense and will not provide as much vitamin and minerals as the dark leafy greens will. Below is a recipe for a delicious Chickpea Spinach Salad. There is no cooking required and only minimal time cutting and peeling so it can be prepared quickly if time is sparse. This salad includes spinach and, like I said previously, is a great source of many vitamins and minerals! It is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. Chickpeas are legumes which are high in protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, among many others!
Chickpea Spinach Salad
Makes 2 servings
- One can chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 large handful of spinach, rinsed well
- 3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced cucumbers
- 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- ¼ cup diced red onion
A great thing about salads is that you can add any ingredient that you want! If you have extra vegetables in the refrigerator from a previous meal, you can throw it in. Try adding other ingredients such as raisins, strawberries, quinoa… The sky is the limit!