by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE
A favorite recommendation of mine is to encourage a salad a day. This is a great starter recommendation but it actually does need further clarification. You see salads can often be low in nutrients and fiber or high in calories and fat.
Let’s start with the salad base and work our way up.
The greens: Iceberg lettuce is the least nutrient dense green. It does have value – iceberg can be a starter green for kids, or it can be mixed with more vibrant greens to help with acceptance. Do not totally discount iceberg, but do aim to use a more nutrient rich salad base when possible. These greens are listed in order by flavor strength starting with mild and working up: Leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce, Romaine, Baby spinach, Mixed greens, Baby kale, Arugula.
Next comes what I like to call “add-ins”. These are foods that increase the texture, flavor, color, and nutrients of salads. This is where all kinds of food conversations can occur. Kiddos can taste the add-ins and discuss texture, color etc. Tasting nutrition always works better than talking nutrition. Use this list of add-ins to get you started: berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.), carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, celery, grapes, hearts of palm, oranges, onions, peas, peppers, rainbow slaw, tomatoes and squash.
Lastly – the garnishes. Much like the add-ins, they add contrast and texture as well as nutrients. This is a perfect place for nuts and seeds (almonds, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts). Cheese is also an excellent garnish for salads as it adds a touch of protein and, when as a garnish, not too much fat. Lastly herbs make beautiful garnishes (or they can be mixed into the salad base).
The Refreshing Herb Salad is just one example of many that you can create using the above guidelines.
Refreshing Herb Salad with Blueberries and Almonds
Summer herbs and berries, I can’t think of a better reason to eat healthy!
1 scant cup mixed herbs; coarsely chopped (parsley, oregano, rosemary, mint, basil)
5 cups mixed greens
1 small cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed
¼ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt of choice
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon honey
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup blueberries
½ cup toasted almonds
Gently toss herbs and mixed greens together in a bowl. Add the cucumbers.
To make the vinaigrette, add garlic, rosemary and sea salt to the bowl of the mortar. Use the pestle to mash ingredients into a paste (this will take about 10-20 seconds of mashing and muddling). Add the lemon juice, stirring and mashing during the addition. Add the honey and oil, and continue to mash/mix as you add. Finally add the pepper to taste and toss with the mixed greens.
Divide equally into 4 portions and top with berries and almonds.
Yield: 4 Servings
Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 190, Fat 14g (1.5g saturated, 9.5g monounsaturated), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrate 16g, Fiber 6g, Protein 5g.
Diabetes Exchange Values: ½ fruit, 1 vegetable, ½ high fat meat, 2 fats
Cook’s note: You can also make the dressing in a food processor if desired or simply mince the garlic and rosemary and combine ingredients.
Until next time; eat well, live well
Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/eatingwellwithkim. To search for specific recipes go to www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.
This article appears in the June/July 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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