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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Salad Days

We use the fun expression "salad days" as a reference to our better days when we were younger, slimmer, at the top of our game. Through healthy living, I intend to keep my salad days around for awhile. That's why I exercise and try to eat right. I don't intend to sit around and let the younger folks have all the fun and look good doing it.

Speaking of salads, they are such an easy way to eat better but beware, they can be loaded with fat, calories and sugar. So don't be too quick to pat yourself on the back because you had only the salad bar for lunch. Did you eat pasta, chicken or tuna salad? They are usually loaded with fats. Did you eat a fruit salad filled with marshmallows and a sweet dressing? More fat and sugar. Load up on crackers or rolls? Didn't do yourself any favors there.

I often add salads as a quick and easy side dish for meals or eat a large salad for lunch. Here are some tips for keeping the lid on the calories and getting the good stuff.

For a simple fruit salad, just cut up any combination of fresh fruit and you are done, no dressing needed. If you use canned fruit, make sure you get fruit in it's own juice or at least light syrup. Drain well. Young children will prefer fruit without dressing. Try strawberries, bananas, oranges and blueberries. This combination is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, potassium and fiber. The following recipe is one of my favorite green salads. I eat it for lunch and dinner.

Salad Greens with Avocado and Pears
Your favorite salad greens mix
1 avocado, peeled and sliced thin
1 pear, sliced thin (use canned if fresh not available)
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese or feta cheese crumbles
Combine all ingredients and drizzle with your favorite dressing. Brianna's Blush Wine dressing is particularly good with this salad. Serves six.

Tip: Adding the salad dressing is the crucial part. Two Tbsp. of Brianna's contains 120 calories with half being fat calories. There are about 4 tbsp. in 1/4 cup so the calories add up in a hurry. Measure the dressing and add it to the salad before serving so no one is tempted to drown their salad in calories. The dressing should enhance your salad, not be the main flavor.

This salad would be nice for Mother's Day dinner.