Posts tagged ‘CRUNCH’

September 5, 2018

Make Your Salad More Salady

Instead of drenching your salad with dressing, why not make it more salady! When it comes to salads, it stands to reason that everyone would have different preferences. The question is, do those preferences make your salad more nutritious and satisfying or just more caloric?
Some of us love salads. Some of us choose salads as a healthy choice on a restaurant menu. If you’re eating salad because you love it, just keep on chomping! If you’re eating salad to be healthy, it’s worth considering what’s in and on it.

While many of you were happily grilling burgers Labor Day, my friends and I were eating salad. Our holiday fare was a Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken. Okay, I guess the chicken was an homage to holiday grilling.

Anyway, one friend doesn’t really like Caesar salads. She says she prefers traditional salads with iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and cheese. Another argued that traditional salad has mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and pecans. That was laughingly characterized as a fruit salad by the hardcore traditionalists.

The great thing about serving salad at home is the components can be presented separately so that each family member can fill a bowl or plate with the combination they prefer. This presents a great opportunity for children to explore raw food, flavor combinations, crunchiness, and food groups. The dinner table is the perfect place to learn about food.
Any salad full of fresh vegetables is healthy. Adding fresh fruit, herbs, and raw nuts can be healthy too. When I eat salad, I tend to dig out the crunchy things first. If the crunch is provided by sugar snap peas, cucumbers, apples, yellow bell pepper, and carrots my bowl is healthier than if the crunch is provided by croutons, bacon, candied nuts, or fried tortilla chips.

Of course a salad can have croutons and still be healthy. The key is the proportion of raw vegetables, herbs, fruit and nuts to bacon, cheese, sweetened nuts & dried fruit, fried toppings, croutons & dressing.

Almost every pre-dressed salad has way more dressing than I prefer. And even when you order dressing on the side in a restaurant, the portion cup will most likely contain 2 to 2.5 ounces. A single serving of dressing is 1 ounce.

This double portion (and sometimes there are two of these cups on the side) may not seem like a big deal while you’re pouring it on your salad, but if you’re pouring Ranch Dressing you’re adding 290 calories to your vegetables. That’s only 10 calories less than two medium chocolate cupcakes with frosting.

To help keep calories in check, I sometimes choose cottage cheese instead of dressing or skip the dressing altogether. In a salad filled with berries and nuts, I’m often happy with no dressing at all. I’ve also been known to use vinegar and a little salt, but skip the oil. When I make dressing at home, I often start with yogurt or avocado instead of mayo or use vinegar, oil, and water in equal proportions.
Once you’ve toned down the dressing, an easy way to keep the fat and calories down is to avoid any fried toppings. Some croutons are fried. If you opt for croutons, choose baked ones. If you’re gluten-free, the easiest thing to do is skip them. Substitute grilled chicken for fried chicken, and hold the bacon and fried wontons.

I’m not opposed to a wedge salad covered in bacon, bleu cheese and dressing. When properly chilled with perfectly crisp lettuce, they’re scrumptious. I just don’t think of it as a healthier alternative to a burger.

Reducing the amount of cheese in your salad can dramatically reduce the fat in your salad as well. This is why I think of making a healthy salad as keeping it more salady. The more flavor that is derived from fresh veggies and fruits instead of from things used to smother the veggies and fruits, the more salady it seems to me.

If you’re choosing salad as a meal, only vegetables and fruit with limited dressing may leave you feeling hungry soon after you eat. For a heartier salad, boiled eggs, black beans, chickpeas, avocado, tofu, and quinoa are some of my favorite additions.

Salad may be the most versatile entree that exists. The options are limited only by your imagination and the availability of ingredients. There’s a minimum of cooking required and fresh ingredients are encouraged. No wonder we love them. Now, if we can just bring ourselves to let them be more salady….

October 18, 2016

Halloween Treats Don’t Have to be Candy

pumpkinsHalloween treats don’t have to be candy! When I was growing up, favorite Halloween treats included caramel apples, candy apples, and popcorn balls. While these are sweet treats, they’re not candy. As we grew to be wary of our neighbors, homemade Halloween treats gave way to packaged candy that could be examined for tampering. Gradually, the packaging shifted from bulk packed candy corn to small individual packages.

The nutrition information labels for individually packaged Halloween candy is most often contained on the outer bag, not the individual packages. For the gluten-free or allergic trick-or-treater, this means extra research. A few years ago, a quick trip to the website of Nestle or Mars would generate easily accessible ingredient information. Now, you’ll find the following generic statement on the Nestlé site:
“To help you make informed choices, major allergens including ingredients containing gluten are labeled on foods even when present in small quantities.
In case of gluten intolerance, before buying a food product, check systematically the ingredients list.”

Mars provides a PDF of its Policy on Allergen Labeling:

These labeling policies make sense, but they also make it more difficult to determine what to let your child eat the minute he comes home with a pail full of individually packaged M&M®s, Nerds®, SweetTARTS®, BUTTERFINGER®, or CRUNCH® bars.

Why not help your gluten-free neighbors and friends enjoy the holiday by providing non-candy treats?

I may have mentioned before that some of the most popular Halloween treats I’ve provided haven’t been candy. One year the favorites were pennies and Michael Jackson spiral memo pads. The same kids came back with their friends two and three times that year. The past few years, I’ve mixed packages of KOOL-AID in with candy. Invariably, the KOOL-AID has inspired the most excitement. Non-candy treats stand out as novel and some provide the added benefit of reducing sugar consumption.

5 More Non-Candy Treat Ideas
Halloween Tattoos – My kids always wanted temporary tattoos whether we were at a ballgame, festival, or school event. I’ve also seen popular temporary tattoos at college and senior citizen events. On Halloween, spiders, pumpkins, and witches come in glow-in-the-dark making them even more fun. There’s still time to order from Oriental Trading, Amazon, or Tattoo fun. You can also find tattoos in sheets of 12 at Wal-Mart or Michaels. Get your kids to cut them into singles. It’s a great way for them to help!

Even better, order Edgar Allen Poe tattoos from Archie McPhee®. They’re creepy and literary.
Halloween Finger Puppets – There’s a large variety of Halloween specific finger puppets on the market. Some are cardboard. Some are plastic. All can inspire your child’s imagination! Available for as little as 9 cents each, these are an easily affordable option. If you’re not on a budget, Archie McPhee scores again with Glow Zombie Finger Puppets at about $1 each sold (sold in package of 5) or Black and White Finger Monsters at about $1.25 each (sold in package of 4).

Vampire Fangs – Get some fangs and you’ll be like “True Blood” author, Charlaine Harris who has a custom pair. You can find high end, realistic teeth for you and inexpensive options for the neighborhood kids. Amazon, Oriental Trading Company, or your local Party City should be well-stocked.

Zombie Figures – Zombies are popular these days for both children and adults, so Zombie figures are easy to find. Some are simple and harken back to the green army men we had as kids. Others are detailed and remind me of HOMIES. Both types are available from Amazon.

Witches Fingers – There’s just something irresistible about slipping on a blue finger with a long red fingernail. It makes you feel like you can overpower anything by just pointing at it. You can purchase fingers for your little witches at U.S. Toy Company for about 12 cents per finger. Similar products called Martian Fingers are available from Oriental Trading Company.
And a bonus: If you’re having a Halloween party, these reusable blood bag drink dispensers are fantastically fun! They hold 11.5 ounces of your favorite soda, juice, beer, wine, or mixed drink and come in packages of 10 for about $20 from Amazlab.

Gluten-free moms will appreciate your thoughtfulness in providing non-candy treats! Gluten-free kids will appreciate being able to enjoy your treat immediately without concern.

Whatever treats you provide, have fun, be safe, and Happy Halloween!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”