Salads are a staple for people trying to eat well or save on fat and calories, but not all salads are created equal. While all greens are low in calories, many people sabotage what could be a nutritious dish by adding heavy toppings like fried chicken, croutons or a higher fat cheese. Tasty toppers don’t have to be loaded with calories and fat. With a few new ideas and simple switches, a salad can be revitalized and turned into an even better meal.
It’s easy to make an inspired, flavorful lunch or dinner by mixing up a typical salad. A few simple switches, like changing up the type of cheese sprinkled over the top a salad, can make a big difference. With the right combination of vegetables, protein, fiber and nutritious fats, salads can become a satisfying and enjoyable better choice.
Banish the boring factor of that next plate of greens. Here are five great additions to consider when it comes to building and topping a salad:
- Go (leafy) green. Iceberg lettuce has a nice crunch, but almost no nutritional value. Use a variety of darker greens like spinach, romaine, arugula, dandelion greens, kale, watercress and herbs to add flavor and more nutritional value than iceberg lettuce. Want more essential vitamins? Darker greens are higher in foliate and rich in vitamins A, C and K.
- Choose a better, more flavorful cheese. Simply changing the type of cheese used to top a salad from typical shredded cheddar to feta crumbles cuts calories and fat without sacrificing great flavor or texture. Athenos Feta cheese has 30 percent fewer calories and one-third less fat than cheddar cheese, and offers 6 grams of protein per serving. The tangy, rich flavor of feta will make any salad more exciting.
- Fill up on lean protein. Adding protein can build texture and flavor, and transform a salad from a side dish into a satisfying entree. Many of the protein-based salad toppings people typically choose are deep-fried, breaded or greasy, adding unnecessary calories, cholesterol, sodium and fat. Skip fattier toppings, such as bacon and fried chicken strips, and opt for lean proteins instead. Try grilled chicken or thinly sliced lean steak, canned beans of all kinds, tofu, hardboiled eggs or water-packed tuna.
- The crunch factor. Choose walnuts, almonds or even sunflower seeds instead of oily croutons or processed bacon bits. Nuts provide a satisfying crunch along with fiber and omega-3 fats. Nuts, like almonds, can be a great choice because they contain important minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- Dress to impress. To cut down on dressing, not taste, forgo traditional salad dressing and instead add a squeeze of citrus fruit and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, along with a few dashes of oil and vinegar. Balsamic vinaigrette and low fat or fat free dressing varieties are also smart options.
Skeptical about the possibilities of making a less heavy version of a favorite salad that satisfies an appetite? Try this new recipe for traditional taco salad full of tasty lean protein, crunchy tortilla chips, flavorful herbs and vegetables, tangy cheese, creamy dressing and amazing flavor combinations. More feta cheese recipes can be found at www.athenos.com.
Tangy Taco Salad
2 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1/4 cup Athenos Traditional Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Kraft Light Ranch Dressing
1 tablespoon cilantro
12 tortilla chips
Toss lettuce, feta, chicken breast, tomato and onion in a bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Top with cilantro and tortilla chips.
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