Tuesday, November 15, 2011: 03:06:46 PM

Food Processing Guest Column

Bowl full of health - Geeta Bector, Mrs Bector's Cremica

Other than its culinary taste and simplicity, the ubiquitous salad offers many health benefits to the modern day individual

“My salad days, when I was green in judgement....” – Cleopatra (Anthony & Cleopatra)

 
The term Salad has come a long way from being coined in an iconic phrase by William Shakespeare in his more memorable novel. The term was coined to represent the rawness of youth, the intoxication of heady flavours and the innocence of herbs. It is till date a sensual combination of fresh, succulent morsels that manages to bring back the mystery and fun back in food.
 
Most of what we eat today is either original recipes or adaptations of. Be it a cake, or chicken soup or vegetable gravy, chances are that the recipe was handed down to me by my mother, who in turn got it from hers, and so on. Other than adjusting spices or measurement, these recipes leave little room for imagination. But the salad is different.
 
Take the joy of putting many diverse ingredients together; the surprise and mystery of the rich taste, the rich moistness of the dressing, the flavours of the season, and you will come close to understanding the joys of salad making. The wondrous part of this aspect of food making is that you do not need to be a certified chef or a good cook, not even an average or a decent cook. All you need is some imagination, some fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits, meat or fish and some tasty dressing that is available in a myriad of flavours. Put them together, toss them and then simply let the flavours slowly overwhelm your senses.
 
As the name itself suggests, it is a healthy mixture or concoction of freshness, nutrients and good health. In the times, where lives are simply paced too fast and other pursuits of healthy eating and good health are relegated to the back, salads are one of the simplest and healthiest food habits that anyone can commit to. Easy to make and tasty to eat, they bring us a few steps closer to our suggested dietary allowance of fruits and vegetables. By adding your own choice of vegetables, you can have a nutritious and a quick meal at any time of the day, whether at home or even in your office.
 
The healthier choice
 
Salads increase our daily intake of good fibre which results in better management of cholesterol and constipation. It is also recommended for healthy weight loss, contributing to necessary nutrition, fullness and low glycemic index of your entire meal. Since salads are very filling, eating one prior to your main course will reduce the number of calories you end up consuming.
 
In a new study, researchers at UCLA and Louisiana State University say it is fine to go ahead and indulge at the salad bar because "rabbit food" is nutritious for people too. Comprising dietary data on more than 17,500 men and women, the study finds consumption of salad and raw vegetables correlates proportionately with higher concentrations of folic acid, Vitamins C and E, lycopene and alpha and beta carotene in the bloodstream.
 
Published in the September edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study also suggests that each serving of salad consumed correlates with a 165% higher likelihood of meeting recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for Vitamin C in women and 119% greater likelihood in men.
Another important part of salads is the dressing. While you can eat your salad without any dressing, adding some would not only make it taste better, but would allow for the nutrients in the salad to be absorbed better by your body.
 
Salads are also great conversation starters and ice breakers when you are throwing a party. All you need is some exotic ingredients, a salacious dip and voila, there you go. Or fashion it as a game with your loved one – a blindfold, fresh salad sprinkled with diverse ingredients - some sweet, some salty or simply some spicy, and play a game of sensuous tasting with blindfolds and your fingers.
 
It does not matter whether you are a vegetarian, eggetarian or a carnivore; whether you eat it as a health food, filler, a full meal or as a game; there are salads to meet your every need. Just hustle them fresh from your grocer or chilled from your fridge, add some delicious dressing, sit back and close your eyes and let it transport you to a land with no stress, no worries, a simple wholesome sense of well being and happiness.
 
Geeta Bector is the vice president - R&D at Mrs Bector's Cremica

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