What's In That Spring 'Greens' Salad? April 29, 2011
Topics: Nutrition

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By Julie Paff, RD, LD, CDE

Lettuce is never better in Texas than at this time of year. Salads are a great addition to a healthy diet. Salads have been on our dinner table even before the ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed raw vegetables mixed with vinegars, oils and herbs. In fact, the word salad originated from the Roman phrase 'herba salata' or salted herb. Originally, the focus was on the dressing and not the greens, but we know that the salad greens are filled with healthy nutrients.

Ask The Expert! Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars
June 1, 2011 6:30 to 8:00 pm
5555 North Lamar Blvd Building D, Suite 125
Austin, TX 78751

Ranch and blue cheese salad dressings increase the fat and calorie counts of your salad. For example, two tablespoons of Kraft Foods Ranch Salad Dressing contains 148 calories and almost 16 grams of fat. The other creamy dressing aren't much better at two tablespoons; blue cheese 152 calories, French 146 calories and Thousand Island at 118 calories.

Healthy Creamy Dressing Recipe

Prep: 5 minutes
Serving size 1 Tbsp

Nutrition Information per serving: 46 Calories 2 gm Fat 1 gm sat fat, 67 mg sodium, 5 gm sugar

1/4 cup fat-free unflavored Greek yogurt
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp honey

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Chill before serving.

Here's another alternative.

For a low-calorie dressing, I recommend using infused olive oil and a compatible balsamic vinegar product….examples include:

  • Lime-infused olive oil and pomegranate-infused balsamic for spinach, walnuts and dried cranberries
  • Any herbal infused olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar
  • For Spring a lemon-infused olive oil and peach infused vinegar (there are lighter products from other grape varieties available in local markets and in Fredericksburg

The Greens

Below is a description of common greens you may see in the produce department or at the farmer's market this week;


Also called rocket, Italian cress, Mediteranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola.

Refreshing peppery taste that goes well with pesto dishes.

Great source of Vitamin C and potassium.

Baby Bok Choy

Mild flavor.

Older leaves used in Chinese stir-fries.

High in vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Beet Greens

Only immature leaves are used in salads.

Purplish veins add color to any salad.

Spicy flavor

Butterhead Lettuce

Also called Boston lettuce or bibb (limestone) lettuce.

Soft velvety leaves imparting a buttery texture to salads.


Watercress is the most popular variety in the United States.

Other varieties include upland cress, curly cress and land cress.
Imparts a peppery taste.

A great source of Vitamin C, iron, Vitamin A, iron, folic acid and phytochemicals.

Dandelion Greens

Spring leaves add a slightly bitter taste to salads; mature leaves are not palatable in fresh salads.

Use sparingly as this taste can overpower the salad.

If you gather your own dandelion greens, be sure the plants do not have pesticide residues.


Also known as Belgian endive, French endive, witloof, witloof chicory, Belgium chicory.

Unique oval shape and satiny texture with slightly bitter taste.


Also called Batavian endive, scarole, broad-leaved endive.

Mildly bitter green with large crisp leaves.

Added to soups and pairs well with beans.


Also known as curly endive, chicory, chicory endive, or curly chicory.

Slightly bitter taste and crunchy stems add flavor and texture interest to your salad.

Iceberg Lettuce

Adds volume to salads and is very crisp.

Mild taste.

Inexpensive, lasts in hydrator drawer for days.

Looseleaf Lettuce

Also called green leaf lettuce.

Mild flavor, pliable and crunchy stem.

Uneven ruffled surfaces add volume and texture to salads; usually torn into bite-size pieces unless used as a bed for other dishes.

Lollo Rosso Lettuce

Also know as read leaf lettuce.

Mild flavor, pliable and crunchy stem.

Uneven ruffled surfaces add color, volume and texture to salads.


Also known as lamb's lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, lamb's tongue, rapunzel, doucette, loblolliefetticus.

Slightly sweet flavor, very mild.

Small leaves, so can make a very expensive salad.


Mixture of tender young leaves-typically chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive.

Miner's Lettuce

Also known as Cuban spinach, winter purslane.

Tasteless green that is visually interesting in salads.


Also known as herba stella, star herb, buckshorn plaintain.

Mild sweet taste can be almost 'salty.'

Blade shape with serrated leaves that are crunchy.


Also known as Japanese greens, spider mustard, xue, cai, kyona, potherb mustard, California peppergrass.

Strong pungent flavor, but blends well without overpowering other flavors.

Looks like miniature oak leaves with jagged leaf edges.


Colorful edible flowers that add color and interest.

Peppery, watercress-like taste

Oakleaf Lettuce

Also known as red oak leaf, green oak leaf.

Loose leaf lettuce; shape resembles oak tree leaves


Also known as Chioggia, red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory.

Deep red purple color gives color to any salad.

Slightly bitter taste raw, but if cooked the leaves turn brown and taste sweet.

Romaine Lettuce

Also known as Cos lettuce.

Stiff large leaves add crunch to any salad


High in nutrients and phytochemicals.

Delicate flavor if young leaves used


Also known as tat soi, spoon cabbage, rosette bok choy.

Mild mustard-like flavor.

Texture similar to baby spinach and these greens can be interchanged in recipes.


Salads are part of a healthy diet, especially for persons with diabetes, pre-diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Seton Diabetes Education Center invites persons with diabetes or pre-diabetes to enroll in a free seminar to learn about balsamic vinegar and olive oil on June 1. Learn more about this event on June 1 at 5555 North Lamar Boulevard.

Take a Class

Julie Paff is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator at Seton Diabetes Education Center. She teaches the importance of vegetable intake to health with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

If you have diabetes, The Seton Diabetes Education Center can teach you how to get optimum blood sugar control with diet and lifestyle changes through individual or group education opportunities. To attend these classes, you will need a referral from your primary care physician we can assist with this process if you call us at (512) 324-1891.

If you have completed diabetes self-management training but desire additional support, check out www.goodhealth.com for upcoming diabetes education seminars.

If you have pre-diabetes or you are at high risk of developing diabetes, Seton Diabetes Education Center offers two options for lifestyle management education:

Seton Diabetes Education Center
5555 North Lamar Blvd., Building D, Suite 125
Austin, TX 78751
Phone: (512) 324-1891

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