Friday, March 6, 2009
Salute to Salad!
Salad and I have sort of a 'love-hate' relationship. I have always loved salad, but my body has not always felt the same way! Have you ever given salad a second thought? I am not talking about the tiny pieces of shredded lettuce with a bit of dressing you might get before your main meal at a restaurant. I am talking about a home made, hearty salad with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc?
'Lettuce' explore this topic of salad. (I couldn't help it, sorry!) There are some people that turn their noses up to any mention of the word salad. They are disgusted at the thought of eating foods that rabbits and rodents eat. I mean really, how could we stoop to such a low? For some reason, others feel deprived at the thought of eating salad. I guess if you think that the few pieces of lettuce and a drop of dressing makes up a salad, then you will most definitely be disappointed.
In the last six months or so, I have challenged myself to be a better grocery shopper. I use competitors ads and coupons to plan my menus each week. (I must clarify here that I do not always plan menus, and I do not always fix the menus I plan!) It has been totally worth the little bit of effort that I put in to go through the ads, make a list for the actual things I will buy, and a list of which competitor has them, and for what price. I now have a 'system' that helps stream line my checkout with all of the competitor prices and advertisements. I also have an unofficial rule about produce: Unless I am just desperate for something fresh, I will not pay over $1.00 per pound for it. If you have not shopped lately, you may be very surprised at the prices being charged these days! For instance, I love Roma tomatoes. They are the perfect personal sized tomato. However, the only time I buy them is when they are $1.00 or less per pound. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I found them for $.79 per pound at a local grocer! It was time to stock up, baby!
Other produce I like to include on my salad include green, red, yellow, and orange peppers. I can usually find the green peppers on sale at a good price, but the other colors usually sell for much more. Separately, they can cost $.75 or more per piece! I look for the package of three that cost less than 3 sold separately. I also like to include zucchini, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower on my salad. Once again, I look for the bargains, so I don't get to have them every week. A fairly cheap addition is celery. I used to eat celery when I was a kid, but until recently, have not. It adds a bit of crunch to a fresh salad, so I buy that off and on as well. You can't get a much more 'rodent like' food than carrots! Ha! Our guinea pig LOVED them. I find that if I buy the 'baby' carrots, we actually eat them; unlike the whole carrots that need to be peeled. Besides regular old lettuce, try different varieties, fresh leaf spinach or sprouts. There are endless possibilities!
Guess what else can be a great addition to a salad? Beans! Whether they are garbanzo, black eyed, pinto, or black beans, they are inexpensive in a can (on sale, of course) and are a great source of protein! Black and green olives, and a bit of shredded cheese also top my salads as often as possible. On rare occasions, sunflower seeds, manderine orange pieces, or bacon bits are a treat too. If you really want a good meal, top your greens with tuna, chicken, or ham! YUM!
Now to the dressing--it can be a curse or a blessing, depending on how you choose. The best of course are fat free, low calorie versions. However, some of those are awful and not worth the time or the money. So, I have a few fat free favorites, a few reduced fat favorites, and some just plain old regular dressings that I use sparingly on my salad. The key is not to let your yummy produce swim in the dressing! For the people that really dislike salad, and try to drown it in dressing: STOP IT! Ha! How are you going to enjoy all of the great flavors you have added if all you taste is the dressing?
So now you know some of the great ingredients that can go into a salad (I purposely left off onions, because I can not stand them raw! But, eat them if you like. I also did not mention some of the great pasta salads I like...but they are another story anyway.) You still might wonder WHY you should take the time to prepare and eat a salad. Just like your mother probably told you: Because it is GOOD for you! Be honest with yourself: Do you think you really get all of the needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber you should? I doubt it. You can feel proud and healthy when you eat a tasty salad. It is good for you, but it is also TASTY! If you are in the "Battle of the Bulge" as I am, you can eat your salad knowing that you are doing a great thing for your body, making a great choice toward a healthier you! Then, you can eat your dark chocolate M&Ms for dessert without worry!
PS: I would have taken a picture of a great salad I had a little while ago, but I ate it!