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Harvest Salad

Okay, when I first learned that I was going to have to eat half the bulk of my meals in plant form for the rest of my life, I kinda gagged.  I have NEVER been a big vegetable eater.  Okay, the truth is that I would go months between seeing a vegetable.  So, I started at the easy place: salads.  Now, in the past, salad has meant iceburg lettuce with bacon, egg, and cheese, with a nice serving of ranch dressing on top (and here is where I hide from the nutritionists throwing books at me).  Yeah, yeah, I know.  My mother's verdict on iceburg lettuce is that I might as well eat water for all the nutrition I was getting.  So, I did a little research on the leaves that I could use to make the base for my salad: looseleaf, iceburg, romaine, and spinach.

Types
Looseleaf Lettuce
Iceburg Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce
Spinach
Amount
50g (10 small leaves)
50g (4 big outer leaves)
50g (one cup)
50g (1 1/2 cups)
Carbs
1.7
1
1.2
1.7
Fiber
.45
.7
.85
1.35
Calories
9
6
7
11
Fat
0000
Potassium
132 mg
79 mg
145 mg
279 mg
Vitamin E
.14mg
.22mg
.22mg
.95mg
Vitamin A
950 IU
165 IU
1300 IU
3357 IU
Phytosterols
19 mg
5 mg
0 mg
4.5 mg

So, why did I pick those vitamins to show?  As a diabetic, I really do try to keep up on research about homeopathic treatments.  My doctor, the endocrinologist, is amazingly supportive and believes that pharmaceuticals work best when supported by other methods of control like diet, exercise and homeopathic treatments.  That's why I take a cinnamon pill every day.  Anyway, I try to treat my food like homeopathic treatments; after all, we are what we eat.

Vitamin E supposedly improves how well insulin works in your body and it prevents oxidation of bad cholesterol.  Now the studies on the prevention of heart attacks have been fuzzy with mixed results, but the studies used vitamin E supplements (pills), and the government website says that the pill form is only half as effective as the vitamin in natural foods (no duh).

Vitamin A is a tricky one.  You don't want a multivitamin with a lot of A. Vitamin A helps with the immune system and protects the eyes: two weak spots for diabetics. Studies even suggest that getting a lot of vitamin A through dark green or orange vegetables can lower the risk of lung cancer. HOWEVER, too much vitamin A can contribute to osteoporosis by blocking vitamin D and may even promote the growth of cancer.  So, how do you keep it balanced?  You want your vitamin A to come from plant sources.  The body can't use the vitamin A from plants without converting it to the animal form.  And if your body is all full of vitamin A, it just won't convert the extra material.  But if you overdose on vitamin A from animal sources or vitamin pills, you can hurt yourself.

Phytosterols are the coolest thing since the invention of cool.  They chemically look a lot like cholesterol, which might be why when you have a lot of phytosterols coming in, the body doesn't absorb as much cholesterol.  So more phytosterols equals less cholesterol.  Cool, no?

~ ~ ~


And yeah, my mom was right.  Iceburg is the big old nothing of vegetables.  So, I started developing some alternative salads using more nutritious ingredients.  Now, I'm not going to lie to you: I still go for taste over perfect nutrition, but I sure am a whole lot better now.  This is one of my favorites; I call it the harvest salad because the flavors just seem so "autumny" to me.

Harvest Salad

1/2 cup looseleaf lettuce
1/4 cup ripped spinach leaves
1/4 whole apple, diced
8-10 dried, sweetened cranberries (but make sure they're still plump)
10-12 walnut halves, crushed
1 strip of bacon

I don't think you really need directions on making a salad, but here are a few tips.  One, get those stems off the spinach.  If you don't, one *will* catch on the side of your mouth as you're attempting to get the food into your mouth and embarrassment will be had.  Two, I cook the bacon in the microwave, but do something to keep it from sitting in its own grease.  I use a ridged pan, but you can also put lots of paper towels underneath.  And finally, I like to serve this with a raspberry vinaigrette.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite salads, and the flavors are so good that I can even get non-salad eaters to go for this one.


Ingredients
Carbs
Fiber
Calories
Protein
Fat
Looseleaf lettuce
.5
0
2.5
0
0
Spinach
0
0
2
0
0
Apple
4
0
13
0
0
Cranberries
6
0
22
0
0
Walnuts
2
0
65
1.5
6
Bacon
0
0
40
3
3
Totals
12.5
0
144.5
4.5
9

Oh, and the fat grams from the walnuts??  I don't worry about those at all.  Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats which actually improve circulation, reduce the chance of heart attack, and lower triglycerides.  And since blood sugar affects triglycerides, diabetics have trouble with that number.  So, not all calories are created equal, and not all fats are created equal. 

Sources:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/
http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/recipes/spinach/spinach&lettucenutrition.html
http://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Information_About_Individual_Dietary_Supplements.aspx

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
lit_gal
Oct. 27th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
I still like the crunch of iceburg in some stuff, but I don't try to use it as a vegetable. And good for you on the weight loss. It's not easy to eat right in our society where all the advertising dollars are spent on the bad choices, so I hope this can help just a little. And if you have your own recipes or secrets to share, you should!
syrenslure
Oct. 27th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
This is one of my favorite salad combinations. I like to add baked chicken breast to it sometimes, and may skip the bacon or use a sprinkling of the "real" bacon bits.

lit_gal
Oct. 28th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
This does go good with chicken or fish. And I think it's amazing how something as small as switching from iceburg to romaine can make a difference, but it clearly can.
syrenslure
Oct. 28th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
I don't care much for the taste (or lack of) of iceberg. I usually buy red or green leaf lettuce or romaine or a spring greens mix.
hawk_soaring
Oct. 28th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
I hated salads until I realized there was something out there besides iceberg lettuce! The flavors of the other greens is just so much better! I also substitute turkey bacon for regular... and I've found I love the smoky taste of it.
lit_gal
Oct. 29th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
There's great stuff out there. I like red leaf lettuce (a form of looseleaf) myself. Great flavor to that. And yeah, I use the turkey bacon, but to be honest, I don't like it as much.
so_sharlemaine
Oct. 29th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Romaine and spinach are my faves! Yay!

I didn't know that about the vitamin A in multi vitamins. I used to take most of my vitamins in seperate form, but just recently started taking a multi. For some reason, though, I was thinking that I might not be doing good by taking a multi. I see now that my suspicion was correct.

lit_gal
Oct. 29th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Ah, but if you look at the back, most multivitamins don't have the full quota of A. Really, you can only overdose yourself by taking extra pills (several multivitamins or separate vitamin A pills), or taking vitamin A and then eating a lot of liver. And really, who's going to eat a lot of liver? Blech
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )