Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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You can make friends with salad

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In the wake of the hate on almonds, kale, and countless other vegetables comes the defamation of salads. And dietitians everywhere wept into their leafy greens.

Now, while the author is proclaiming that “salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition” his real points wilt down to derision for two things: lettuce and fast food salads.

The problem with lettuce is that it contains very few nutrients and uses a lot of water to grow. The problem with fast food salads is that they’re often packed with calorific ingredients like candied nuts, deep-fried croutons, and creamy dressings while containing few vitamins and minerals as they’re predominantly lettuce-based. No argument here. Let’s look a little closer at the first claim though.

Yes, lettuce is not exactly an outstanding vegetable in the land of superfoods. That doesn’t mean that we should quit it entirely. It does contain some nutrients and precisely because it contains relatively few calories it can be a great choice for anyone who’s trying to manage their weight. Four cups of romaine lettuce contains only 40 calories! For one of the very reasons that the author eschews lettuce many people choose to eat it. The water in that lettuce also contributes to your hydration; it’s not like it’s just going to waste.

Even if lettuce isn’t the greatest. That’s no reason to dismiss salads entirely. Lettuce is not an essential salad ingredient. If you want some nutrient-packed salad greens go for spinach, kale, or shredded brussels sprouts. Salads can include loads of nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, everything from apples to zucchini. You can include grains, nuts, seeds, cheese, meat. The salad combinations are endless, delicious, and nutritious. Salads are so much more than just lettuce.


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Recipe: Corn and Black Bean Panzanella with Avocado Lime Dressing

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I never really post recipes anymore but I’ve been on a bit of a panzanella kick and due to demand, here’s the recipe for the one I made for supper last night.

Black Bean and Corn Panzanella with Avocado Lime Dressing

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

Croutons (from about four slices of bread – I baked this sweet potato bread the night before but you can use whatever type of bread you want. Rustic, crusty loaves are best)

Corn (if it’s in season, I recommend using the corn from four cobs. Otherwise, about two cups of frozen kernels)

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

Freshly ground black pepper

Cherry tomatoes (quartered)

1 can of black beans (thoroughly rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon and 3 teaspoons)

1 ripe avocado

1 handful of cilantro

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 clove of garlic

Herbamare

To make the dressing:

Combine avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice (to taste), dash of herbamare, and olive oil (to creamy consistency, about a tablespoon) in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.

To make salad:

Heat large skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil. When heated, add your corn kernels, cumin, freshly ground pepper, and a little Herbamare and sauté until cooked. Let cool.

Meanwhile, toss together black beans, tomatoes, and red onion. Cube bread and heat another skillet over medium-low heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and about half the bread. Flip bread cubes until nice and toasty. Remove and place in a medium bowl. Repeat with the rest of the bread.

Add the corn to the black bean mixture, pour dressing over top and gently toss to coat.

Divide croutons and salad among bowls. Eat. Enjoy.


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Summer of Salad

You know what I really don’t like? Raw broccoli. For that matter, I’m also not a fan of raw mushrooms or asparagus. I do, however, love all of these vegetables in their cooked state. To add a little more excitement to your salad, try adding cooked veggies (either warm or cooled). I steam broccoli and asparagus until it’s tender-crisp, sauté mushrooms, roast sweet potato, roast beets, etc. and add to my raw vegetables, especially leafy greens. To bump up the protein in my salad I usually add some nuts or seeds (raw sunflower seeds or toasted cashews are faves) or chickpeas, maybe some goat cheese. Then just toss with your favourite dressing. My stand-by: balsamic vinegar mixed with mustard (either dijon or spicy honey). My favourite dressing takes a little bit more work but is absolutely worth the effort. It’s from this recipe for Oriental-Style Chicken, Veggie, and Cashew Salad.