Sassy Salads

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According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 482,000 individuals were hospitalized due to cardiovascular disease between 2009 and 2010, and 11% of all health expenditure was spent on treating cardiovascular disease. A poor diet is identified as a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The Australian dietary guidelines for adults (NHMRC 2003) recommends adults should eat at least five serves of vegetables per day and reduce their intake of saturated fat.

Salads are an excellent way to attain five serves of vegetables per day and even more so with the impending warmer season. However, some salads can also be a source of saturated fat with low anti-oxidant levels, so it is important that you choose or prepare your salads wisely. Today’s dish is a popular salad choice: Caesar salad.

The recipe for a basic Caesar salad for four is highlighted below:
1. Heat one teaspoon of butter in a non-stick pan. Add 4 bacon rashers until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

2. Heat another teaspoon of butter. To make the croutons, add 4 slices of white crusty bread to cook for five minutes. Transfer to another plate lined with paper towel.

3. For the dressing, add an egg, 2 tablespoons vinegar, one-teaspoon mustard, two tablespoons mayonnaise and 2 drained anchovy fillets in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Combine the bacon, bread mixture, one torn cos lettuce and 40g shaved parmesan in a large bowl. Toss this well with the dressing and serve.
An enhanced nutritional content of this dish can be achieved by making the modifications noted below:

1. In place of butter, add 15mls of extra virgin oil. A splash of vinaigrette dressing and lime can also be used for extra zest and flavor.

2. In place of adding only cos lettuce, add a variety of vegetables with a range of colors to attain an enhanced nutrient and anti-oxidant content of your salad. To enhance the anti-oxidant content further, add in fresh herbs including parsley, basil, mint and coriander.

3. In place of adding buttered white bread, add in low glycemic index carbohydrates including diced sweet potatoes, quinoa or dried multi-grain bread brushed with olive oil or avocados.

4. Add lean protein sources including salmon, chicken or hard-boiled egg. Add some shavings of low-fat cheese for extra protein and calcium.
By making the changes suggested, you would have significantly decreased the saturated fat content and increased the poly-unsaturated fat and anti-oxidant content of the foods. Raw salad leaves and vegetables are an excellent source of phyto-chemicals and will also fill you up with their high fibre content. Nutritious salads are quick to prepare and can be an excellent addition to any meal.

Shania Khialani
Suite 2A, 517 St Kilda Road 3004 (Cnr Commercial Road)


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