Living a low sodium healthy life sure obviously includes lots of vegetables, fruit and of course many many salads! Lucky for me I like fresh food and salads. The key to not get burnt out on salads is to make them fun, and use a wide variety of toppings.
You can never go wrong with chopped fresh veggies. The wonderful thing about fresh veggie is that you can load up your plate and fill up your tummy and still keep the calories really low. I have found an endless supply of yummy options. I usually keep my fridge well stocked with spinach, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, radish, mushroom, celery, cabbage, broccoli, snap peas, red onion and tomato. These are all wonderful low calorie and no salt flavor options.
For a busy schedule it is easier to prepare a large storage container of salad, and store it in the fridge, for easy access to make a quick salad for a lunch. I like to take time on Sunday to prepare my salad for the week. If you don’t have time in your schedule you can always spend a little extra money on pre-made salad topping veggies from the produce isle. Most grocery stores carry some sort of mix that is usually a diced carrot, celery, onion, radish and other assorted veggies, depending on brand. This is a quick option for the busy working person, or parent trying to work healthy food into a hectic day of kids activities.
Another key to keeping the calories down on your salad is choosing the right dressing. At first I found looking for salad dressing to be one of the hardest things. The I discovered my love for balsamic vinegar. Since most dressings I came across were way to high in sodium, most range from 140mg to 400mg per 2 tbsp serving, I had to experiment. I found a wide selection of balsamic and red wind vinegar at our local Winn-Dixie. I stocked our pantry with great infused flavors, like raspberry, pomegranate, tarragon and garlic. Pompeian makes a great selection, and they have 5 calories and no sodium but loads of flavor. Another dressing idea is simple lemon juice, works well alone and in combo with the bitterness of vinegar. Some people use a drizzle of olive oil, which has no sodium, but if you are watching calories real closely is 120mg per tbsp. I avoid the oil calories and go with just vinegar. There are other dressing choices that I have found at healthyheartmarket.com , but I haven’t had a chance to order them yet. I will definately let you know after I have tried some of their no salt products.
When Making a salad as a meal, you can changer things up by using unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. To replace my croutons, and still have a crunch on my salad, I like to use Roasted Plantain Chips from Trader Joe’s. Another lovely crunch can come from crunched up Vegetable Root Chips also from Trader Joe’s.
What does all this information amount to?? Well today I made an excellent example of a Low salt, low calorie salad meal. The toppings consisted of 3 oz carrot shreds, 1/8 cup celery, tomato, 1/4 cup plantain chips, 1/5 cup unsalted pistachio nutmeat, and 1 tbsp low sodium turkey bacon pieces. It was finished with 2 tbsp Ken’s lite Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing. This dressing is right on the line of my 120mg sodium per serving limit, but is worth it for the taste sometimes.
This huge awesome salad was a super filling meal and the whole thing was approx 300 calories, and only 317mg of sodium in the whole plate. It has 8 grams of protein thanks to the turkey bacon and pistachios. If you want to drop the sodium and calories even lower you can replace the dressing with balsamic vinegar, this would remove 80 calories and 120mg sodium from the plate. I went with the dressing today because I has skipped breakfast to go to a doctor appointment so I could justify the extra calories and sodium in lunch.