Salads: Healthy Summer Salads, Tips & Tricks (cont.)

5. Try some new salad recipes instead of the traditional, mayo-drenched coleslaw and potato salad. Pesto sauce blended with condensed chicken broth, fat-free sour cream, or fat free half-and-half makes a fun and different dressing. Bottled or homemade vinaigrettes can be used as dressing for pasta and potato salads and coleslaw.

6. When you DO make a mayonnaise-based salad, lighten it up by mixing regular or light mayonnaise with your favorite fat-free or light sour cream. I like to use about 1 tablespoon of regular mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream, or 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream.

7. Perk up pasta and rice salads by tossing in crunchy veggies. They'll add fiber and nutrients without a lot of calories. Snow peas, cherry tomato halves, broccoli or cauliflower florets, green onions, bell peppers ... they all work great.

8. Try the new whole-wheat pasta blends for your pasta-salad recipes, and brown rice for your rice-salad recipes. You'll increase the fiber, vitamins, and minerals and phytochemicals just by making this adjustment.

9. Use dark green lettuce for your green salad. The darker green the lettuce, generally the more vitamins and phytochemicals it contains. Two of the best choices are spinach and romaine lettuce. And while it isn't dark green, cabbage is also a good choice. As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it contributes important protective phytochemicals such as indole-3-carbinol.

10. Kick the flavor up a notch with high-flavor (but lower calorie) ingredients like dill pickle relish, fresh herbs and spices, spicy mustard, flavored vinegars (such as balsamic vinegar), green onions, or a handful of toasted nuts or a tablespoon or two of chopped green olives (a little goes a long way).

And now for the recipes:

Quick and Light Greek Salad

Here's a little something different to bring to barbecues and picnics for a taste of the Mediterranean.

3 cucumbers, halved, seeds removed, and sliced (remove peel if desired)
3/4 cup crumbled, reduced-fat feta cheese (or substitute bleu cheese)
1/2 cup sliced, canned black olives, drained
3 cups diced Roma tomatoes (or another type of vine-ripened tomato, or cherry tomato halves)
1/3 cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes, oil only lightly drained off (you want some oil because this is the dressing)
2/3 cup chopped red onion

  • Add all the ingredients to a salad bowl and gently toss.
  • Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving: 80 calories, 4 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 2.1 g fiber, 205 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 41%.

Seafood Pasta Salad

A recipe posted on "The Recipe Doctor" message board by one of our own wonderful Weight Loss Clinic members ("evlw") inspired this light recipe. If you want four servings, double the ingredients.

6 ounces cooked shrimp (deveined and without tails), or crabmeat or imitation crabmeat
2 cups cooked, whole-wheat blend pasta, cooled
2 celery heart stalks, finely chopped
2 finely chopped green onions, white and green parts
1/4 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup plain yogurt (whole or low-fat)
2 tablespoons bottled light Caesar dressing (or light Italian dressing)
Black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dill (optional)

  • Add seafood, pasta, celery, green onion, and red pepper to medium serving bowl.
  • In small bowl or 1 cup measure, add yogurt and Caesar dressing and whip together with fork or whisk. Add black pepper and dill to taste, if desired. Stir into serving bowl with pasta and seafood and serve!

Yield: 2 servings

Per serving: 316 calories, 27 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 5.4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0.6 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat), 170 mg cholesterol, 6.1 g fiber, 409 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 15%.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

1/2 cup dried orzo (rice-shaped pasta), about 3 ounces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons water or condensed chicken broth
3 tablespoons vinegar of your choice (rice, tarragon, balsamic, etc.)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pepper to taste (add salt to taste if you wish)
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast (about 4 breasts, or the meat shredded from a rotisserie chicken)
1 1/3 cup cherry tomato halves
6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, well-drained, rinsed, and chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup dried currants (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts* (optional)

  • Cook orzo in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite (about 8 minutes). Rinse under cold water, drain well, and let cool. Put in a medium bowl.
  • Add olive oil, tomato paste, water, vinegar, fresh tarragon, lemon juice, and mustard to a small bowl or food processor, and pulse or whisk to blend well. Season dressing to taste with pepper and salt, if desired.
  • Add chicken to cooked orzo along with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, currants, and capers. Drizzle dressing over the top, and toss.
  • Serve each large scoop of chicken salad on a bed of romaine or spinach leaves, and sprinkle toasted pine nuts over the top.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving: 365 calories, 38 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (2.3 g saturated fat, 8 g monounsaturated fat, 1.9 g polyunsaturated fat), 90 mg cholesterol, 4.3 g fiber, 700 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

*Toast the pine nuts in a toaster oven until golden brown, or put in a nonstick frying pan and heat over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown.

Originally published August 6, 2004.
Medically updated June 30, 2006.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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