All About Salad

woman-eating-saladWhat’s the Big Deal/Why Salads?

Salads are awesome! They work well for lunch, dinner or as a side dish. They give you your daily intake of veggies and you can add food items to give you protein, fiber, fruit or whatever you need! Here are some more reasons to eat a salad today:

Have you had your salad today? Eating salad almost every day may be one of the most healthy eating habits you can adopt — and one of the simplest, experts say.

Eating salads is a super-convenient way to work in a couple of servings of vegetables and/or fruit. Green salads are on the menu of almost every restaurant. You can even buy a side salad (with Romaine lettuce, carrots and tomatoes, available with fat-free or reduced-calorie salad dressing) for a buck at many fast food chains these days. And you can make a green salad at home in 5 minutes, armed with a bag of pre-washed salad greens, a few carrots or other veggies, and a bottle of light salad dressing.

Not only that, but salads are cool, crunchy, and fun to eat (lots of textures, colors, and flavors). Most people enjoy eating salads–even kids! You can customize them to include the fruits and vegetables that appeal to you the most, and whichever ones you have on hand.

Here are four health reasons to reach for a salad today:

1. Eat Salads for the Fiber

It’s hard to believe that something we can’t even digest can be so good for us! Eating a high-fiber diet can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent constipation.

Not only that, says Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, eating more fiber can help you feel fuller, eat less, and ultimately lose weight.

2. Eat Salads for the Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Many experts agree that Americans need to eat more fruits and vegetables (especially dark green and orange vegetables) and legumes — all popular salad ingredients. David Jacobs, PhD, professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, says in an email interview that there is plenty of evidence that nutrient-rich plant foods contribute to overall health.

If you frequently eat green salads, you’ll likely have higher blood levels of a host of powerful antioxidants (vitamin C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene,) especially if your salad includes some raw vegetables. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

For years, researchers have noted a link between eating lots of fruits and vegetables and lower risks of many diseases, particularly cancer. A recent study from the National Cancer Institute suggests that people whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk of developing cancers of the head and neck — even those who smoke and drink heavily. Foods found to be particularly protective include beans and peas, string beans, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, apples, nectarines, peaches, plums, pears, and strawberries.

3. Eat Salads to Cut Calories and Increase Satisfaction

If losing weight is your goal, you may want to start your meals with a green salad. Studies have shown that eating a low-calorie first course, like a green salad of 150 calories or less, enhances satiety (feelings of fullness) and reduces the total number of calories eaten during the meal.

Rolls, lead researcher of the study, suggests that “bigger is better” as long as the salad is bigger in volume, not in calories – which means more veggies and less dressing and other fatty add-ons.

“We saw reductions in consumed calories when people ate salads that were 1 1/2 cups and 3 cups in volume but around 100 total calories,” she says. The 3-cup, 100-calorie salad reduced the total calories consumed at the meal by about 55.

4. Eat Salads to Get Smart Fats

Eating a little good fat (like the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, avocado and nuts) with your vegetables appears to help your body absorb protective phytochemicals, like lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from dark green vegetables.

A recent study from Ohio State University measured how well phytochemicals were absorbed by the body after people ate a salad of lettuce, carrot, and spinach, with or without 2 1/2 tablespoons of avocado. The avocado-eaters absorbed eight times more alpha-carotene and more than 13 times more beta-carotene (both of which are thought to help protect against cancer and heart disease) than the group eating salads without avocado.

If you dress your salad with a little olive oil, there may even be some additional years in it for you. Italian research on people aged 60 and older has suggested that a diet that includes plenty of olive oil and raw vegetables is linked to reduced mortality.

Courtesy of WebMD.

How do I make a Perfect Salad?


Healthy Salad and Dressing Recipes

red-potato-saladRed Potato Salad

Potato salad isn’t just for picnics – this sophisticated version can be used as a side dish for even the fanciest meal. Instead of mayonnaise, we use mustard and wine combined with vinegar and a moderate amount of olive oil. The result is a sharply flavored mix for the potatoes. Small red potatoes – also called new potatoes – are better suited for this dish because they have a firmer texture after boiling than the commonly used russets or baking potatoes. Remember to remove any sprouts before cooking. If you find very small red potatoes, you can leave the skin on and cut them in half.

Food as Medicine

An analysis by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found that the levels of phenolic compounds (which provide antioxidant protection and other health benefits) in red potatoes rivals the levels found in some vegetables that are traditionally regarded as nutrition powerhouses, including broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Serves 6

Nutrients Per Serving

Calories: 153.7

Protein: 3.2 grams

Fat: 5.1 grams

Saturated Fat: 0.7 grams

Monounsat Fat: 3.7 grams

Polyunsat Fat: 0.5 grams

Carbohydrate: 23.6 grams

Fiber: 2.7 grams

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Vitamin A: 280.1 IU

Vitamin E: 0.9 mg/IU

Vitamin C: 30.5 mg

Calcium: 31.5 mg

Magnesium: 35.9 mg


1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, organic if possible

1/4 cup Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard

1/4 cup dry white vermouth

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion

2 stalks celery

2 tsp capers

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Chopped fresh dill to taste

1/2 lb steamed green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces (optional)


1. Boil potatoes in their skins, covered, just until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.

2. Meanwhile, prepare dressing in a jar, combining mustard, vermouth, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste; shake well.

3. Drain potatoes, let cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into thick slices. Place in a large bowl.

4. Pour dressing over the potatoes while they are warm, tossing well.

5. Add chopped onion, sliced celery, capers, finely chopped parsley, dill and, if you like, other chopped vegetables (red bell pepper, radish).

6. Correct seasoning. Chill until served.

7. If desired, you can toss in lightly cooked fresh green beans as a good last-minute addition.

Courtesy of Dr. Weil.

I found that I love making Mason Jar Salads. They are super easy to make and last in the fridge for a week for convenient and healthy lunches or dinners! Just make sure you put the dressing on the bottom and lettuce on the top to avoid sogginess. Here are some great recipes:

mason-jar-saladsMason Jar Pasta Salad Recipe


2 oz Italian dressing

1/4 Cup Onions, chopped

1/2 Green pepper, chopped

1/2 Red pepper, chopped

1/4 Cup Black Olives, sliced

Pepperoni to your liking

2 oz Cooked pasta, drained-cook al dente and rinse with cold water after draining.

Put 2 oz Italian dressing on bottom of mason jar. Next add onions, green pepper, red pepper and black olives (in that order). Add pepperoni and top with cooked pasta. Seal the lid and store in fridge for up to 7 days. When ready to eat just shake the jar and enjoy!

Caprese Pasta Salad Mason Jar Recipe


4 oz Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 Oz Fresh Mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces

2 oz cooked penne pasta- cook al dente and rinse in cold water after draining

1/2 C Spinach Leaves

1/2 C Fresh basil, chopped

Put dressing on the bottom of the mason jar. Next add cherry tomatoes followed by your penne pasta. Top with fresh mozzarella pieces and then follow with the spinach and basil. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. Still tastes fresh on day 7! Shake and enjoy when ready to eat.

Mason Jar Chef Salad Recipe


4 oz dressing of your choice (we used Italian)

1/2 C carrot matchsticks

1/4 C black olives, sliced

1/4 C diced cucumber

1/4 C diced tomato

1/4 C green or red pepper (or both)

1/4 C chopped ham or turkey (or both)

1-2 hard boiled eggs, diced

Lettuce, variety of choice (we used an iceberg blend)

Put dressing on the bottom of the mason jar. Add in this order the following ingredients: carrot matchsticks, black olives, cucumber, tomato, green/red pepper, meat, eggs, lettuce. The amount of ingredients you use depends on your personal preference. You can only fit so much into the jar so if you want lots of lettuce you will need to decrease the amount of other ingredients you add.

Courtesy of Minnesota Mama Must Haves.

Citrus Salad Dressing

This tart, sweet salad dressing is wonderful on dark, leafy salad greens like romaine or leaf lettuce tossed with orange segments, black olives and red onion slivers.

Food as Medicine

Oranges and orange juice contain a potent phytonutrient called herperidin, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and total cholesterol in animal studies.


1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste


Whisk all the ingredients together or combine in a small jar and shake well. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Serves 4

Nutrients Per Serving

Calories: 43.0

Protein: 0.1 grams

Fat: 3.4 grams

Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams

Monounsat Fat: 2.5 grams

Polyunsat Fat: 0.3 grams

Carbohydrate: 3.3 grams

Fiber: 0.0 grams

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Vitamin A: 40.9 IU

Vitamin E: 0.4 mg/IU

Vitamin C: 10.2 mg

Calcium: 2.7 mg

Magnesium: 3.9 mg

Creamy Salad Dressing

This delicious, soy-based dressing can stand head to head with ranch dressing. Look for silken tofu in shelf-stable cardboard containers. It has a different texture than regular tofu and is good for dressings and desserts. This dressing is good on a tossed green salad (remember to pick dark green salad greens), but equally at home on a baked potato or as a dip for raw vegetables. Add a bit of fragrant bleu cheese if you like.

Food as Medicine

Soy is a rich source of manganese, iron and selenium; and of course, plant-based protein and cancer risk-lowering isoflavones. Parsley is a good source of folic acid, a B vitamin critical for cardiovascular health. Also, just one tablespoon of parsley contains over 75 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin K.

Serves 8

Nutrients Per Serving

Calories: 33.4

Protein: 1.8 grams

Fat: 2.7 grams

Saturated Fat: 0.3 grams

Monounsat Fat: 1.2 grams

Polyunsat Fat: 1.1 grams

Carbohydrate: 1.1 grams

Fiber: 0.3 grams

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Vitamin A: 42.2 IU

Vitamin E: 0.3 mg/IU

Vitamin C: 2.5 mg

Calcium: 24.1 mg

Magnesium: 23.2 mg


6 ounces silken tofu (or soft tofu, drained)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar


Combine all ingredients in a blender container. Blend until well mixed.

Vegetarian Caesar Dressing

A True Food Kitchen exclusive! Suitable for lacto-vegetarians, this dressing omits egg yolk, substitutes Kalamata olives for anchovies, and uses vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (available in natural foods stores) instead of the usual anchovy-based version. Many people say they prefer this version to the classic recipe.

Food as Medicine

The olives in this recipe provide substantial taste and health benefits. Olives are extraordinarily rich in phytonutrients, including a special one found only in olives known as oleuropein. It has been shown to lower oxidative stress, and especially to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Olives are also rich sources of vitamin E.


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1/4 scant cup Dijon mustard

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup grated packed Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground

black pepper (or more to taste)

Serves 22

Nutrients Per Serving:

Calories 211.4

Fat 22.3 grams

Saturated Fat 3.35 grams

(94.4% of calories from fat)

Protein 1.46 grams

Carbohydrate 1.54 grams

Cholesterol 2.62 mgs

Fiber 0.1 grams


Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, olives, garlic, and cheese in a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth paste. With the machine on, drizzle in the oil, salt, and pepper. Blend until thick and emulsified, like mayonnaise. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Courtesy of Dr. Weil.

We will be posting new salad recipes each week this summer, but we want to hear from you too! What are your favorite salad recipes? Please share with us in the comments and on social media!

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About Lauren


  1. Lauren: thanks so much: I live mostly on salads, and you have given me some additional options! I use garbanzos, baby lima beans ( cooked and then chilled); fresh baby spinach, sometimes arugula, fresh, but cooked asparagus ( chilled); green olives, feta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese; extra virgin olive oil, and apple cider vinegar ( although I adore balsamic) and I also love some of the options you have extensively and kindly listed.

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