Low-Calorie Garden Salad Recipe

Low-Calorie Garden Salad Recipe


Posted 2023-10-24 by T. A. Rosefollow

A fresh and mouthwatering garden salad with an ideal dressing is indispensable in cookery. Due to the cook's reliance on this side dish - be it for a restaurant or in this case a humble home one, it would indeed be interesting to discuss how to minimise calories (as seen on the fatsecret website for calorie counting) for its dressing. As a salad that is ultimately a lettuce-based combination of garden fresh vegetables, it allows for much creativity - especially as there are many vegetables to select. I think a really poorly thought out garden salad will have iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato, cucumber, sliced brown onion and perhaps fetta (although fetta would make a salad more a Greek salad - especially with Greek olives) or another cheese with a poorly thought out plain french dressing. But a more imaginative one will have at least two types of leafy greens, at least three other vegetables such as but not limited to tomato, cherry or grape tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, celery slices, thin-cut carrot or carrot sticks, spring onion or even super thin little slices of a peeled brown onion. Then perhaps one or two further additions to make it tastier such as fresh fruit or boiled egg slices, Red Leicester or plain cheddar cheese slices (although the latter few are pushing at the definition of a garden salad) or a pickle, olive, bean, or even canned meat or fish or instead some dried fruit or vegetables, and of course, the dressing.

I think some cooks see it as a 'no rules' dish while others can have this amazing definition in their minds that they have to adhere to. For a liberal approach, I would say that will yield a very flavoursome salad if the ingredients are well thought out. While for the strict minimalist who sort of believes that it must be lettuce, cucumber, onion and tomato then the dressing, if executed to perfection can start to have an admirable quality, for it would allow for presenting a thoughtfully simple dish which on some levels becomes impressive despite its simplicity. Some tips I have for people just wanting to whip up a creation or try to perfect their own versions are to try using a grater, especially a flat one to thinly slice carrot, zucchini or cucumber. Thinly sliced brown onion is a skill with a cook's knife but once thin enough in a small quantity can blend well with shredded lettuce, (although to have lots of thin-cut vegetables is becoming more like coleslaw, but with a watery dressing).

So for the dressing, as per the article's title, I have started to figure out how to make a low-calorie version that is so low on oil it sheds fat and calories and you can just whip it up in a coffee cup at one's own pace. Hence, the overall idea provides a platform to make your own Italian or French dressings. So what I did to achieve at least an Italian version was get white wine vinegar, the basic cheapest olive oil I could find, so not even extra virgin but supermarket generic blended, some dried herbs, caster (white) sugar, salt and minced garlic from a jar. The catch to this is the recipe can backfire if you use too much of vinegar or garlic or even if you water it down too much, however, my recipe is:

A quarter of a teaspoon of minced garlic (from a tube or jar, note that too much is too overpowering so a quarter teaspoon is a good compromise),

half a teaspoon of white sugar,

a teaspoon of olive oil,

a teaspoon of white wine vinegar,

a quarter teaspoon of dried Italian herbs mix,

and a quarter teaspoon of salt.

After blending, or stirring up the ingredients in a cup, simply top up with water to the required taste. I would say as the above ingredients are about three teaspoons then the maximum is to top it up with nine teaspoons of water to 12 teaspoons worth of dressing. Assuming a teaspoon is five millilitres (ml) then you will obtain 60 millilitres of dressing. Enough for two small bowls of side salad. The white wine vinegar is quite strong while the sugar boosts the flavour without the caloric impact of olive oil which is by far and away the highest ingredient for calories. The garlic and herbs cancel each other out sufficiently without fully neutralising the flavours. Some recommended other ingredients would be ground pepper and lemon juice.

This dressing does not have a spectacular flavour yet it is still sufficiently powerful. I obviously started blending these ingredients to get a dressing with less fat and calories, so I have added the calorie counting to try and validate my claim that it is a low -fat dressing. Its ingredients included nine teaspoons of water, which has no calories, five mls of oil, which is 40 kilocalories, half a teaspoon of sugar is eight kilocalories, a quarter teaspoon of minced garlic is one kilocalorie, with the pure white wine (free of sugar) vinegar as well as seasonings not included in the final count of 49 kilocalories per 60 mls of dressing, rounded up to 50 kilocalories per 60 mls to be a bit biased towards any skeptical thinkers out there. So that is in fact rounded up to 210 kilojoules ( at 4.184 kilojoules per kilocalorie) per 60 ml or per 100 ml which is approximately just below 350 kilojoules per 100 ml.

Hence I decided to compare my recipe's calorie count with other dressings, such as those on sale at Australian supermarkets, I will call them dressing(s) A, B, C and D.

Dressing(s) A, were two advertised low fat dressings of the same price but different flavours, very low fat and sugar had less than 250 kilojoules per 100 mls, interestingly enough looking at the ingredients one of them was a similar composition to my dressing.

Dressing(s) B were cheap but unfortunately, both of these generic options have just over 750 kilojoules per 100 mls, they were not a reduced fat, sugar or sodium product. Dressing(s) A were approximately twice the prices of Dressing(s) B.

Dressing C was selected as a bit of an upmarket contrast, it had around double the kilojoules of Dressing(s) B, it was a vinegarette but reading its ingredients could see how it packed the calories but was not a creamy dressing.

Dressing(s) D for that final contrast was hopefully a low-fat creamy dressing but that wasn't easy to track down so instead I have found nutritional information on fat free mayonnaise that was as low as 480 kilojoules per 100 ml, but unfortunately there were few creamy dressings with low-fat varieties, with a vegan creamy dressing very high in oil hence that put up the calorie content more to the level of Dressing C.

Conclusively, after comparison to other unnamed dressings found at Australian supermarkets, my concept is looking useful but not the ultimate low-fat dressing. Although watering down that hint more (so a further 8 teaspoons of water, does break past the Dressing(s) A approximate 250 kilojoule per one hundred mls down as far as 210 kilojoules per hundred mls but unless you can find new ways to spruce it up (perhaps with a dash of lemon and/or pepper along with a hint more salt if desired) you will struggle for taste - perhaps, it also depends on the quality and flavour of your white wine vinegar. However, given reasonable strength flavour can be yielded from 60 mls which becomes 350 kilojoules per 100 ml which is still quite useful compared to other dressings which on that note, cost wasn't factored in. Despite it being a safe assumption that 100 mls of homemade dressing costs about twenty cents if that (because my homemade dressing is mainly composed of tap or filtered tap water), I prefer it was lower calories so either I add more water and accept the loss of flavour or pay the extra cost of a supermarket alternative. So for allowing freedom to frugally experiment with your own ingredients my recipe despite being seemingly insufficient at times can in fact be a recipe idea worth exploring for the fact it will do a bit of saving money, saving calories along with cutting back on saturated fats.

Note that all photos used in this review are sourced from Pixabay .

267250 - 2023-10-24 15:38:23


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