Salad: The Answer to Weight Loss or…?

Many people believe “salads will make them skinny….”

So, they start to eat salads twice a day, until they realize they are actually gaining weight and wonder how, because they claim to be eating nothing but “lettuce.” Not all salads are created equal! Lettuce such as mixed greens; kale, spinach, or arugula are low in calories, as are tomatoes, carrots, and celery, radishes, mushrooms, onions, green and red bell peppers. However, once you start adding croutons, wontons, bacon bits, cheese, cashews and thick heavy salad dressings, the calories start adding up! Dressings can pack on 100-200 calories per two tablespoons. These foods are calorie dense and can quickly total a calorie intake greater than the turkey panini your friend is eating. Shocking, isn’t it? It is better to add more nutrient dense foods such as sunflower seeds, hempseeds, chickpeas, kidney beans, mushrooms, peas and slivered almonds or chopped walnuts instead. These foods will provide more nutrition and fewer calories per bite! Salads are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and folate as well.

Weight loss is a constant battle for many people. Unless you are blessed with an extremely high metabolism, or are very active, it is very hard to lose and maintain weight (for the average person). For long-term weight loss success, aim for no more than 0.5-2 pounds of weight loss per week. Weight loss that is quicker than this is usually fluid related (loss), which will come back quickly with adequate hydration. Fluid loss may also be due to a “cleanse” you are trying out because you feel the need to “flush your body of all of its toxins.” However, you can cleanse your body efficiently by eating the right foods –(fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants), whole grains, low fat or nonfat dairy products and lean proteins — and getting adequate exercise (goal of at least 30 minutes per day). Many cleanses flush the body completely and provide little to no nutrients to sustain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Include a fresh salad today for lunch or dinner with all of the right ingredients! There are so many different varieties you can make including mixed fruit salad, caprese salad, southwestern chicken salad, tofu salad, etc. Be creative! Try this hearty combination of whole-wheat couscous and lentils perched on top of arugula with homemade lemony vinaigrette.

Salad from Eating Well: Couscous, lentil and Arugula Salad with Garlic-Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients

Vinaigrette (make your own)

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth, or water
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup French green lentils, or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups arugula, any tough stems removed, or mixed salad greens
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

ENJOY! I hope this leaves you feeling healthy and refreshed!