By Sunita Pant Bansal July 2001 Fruits or sea food, frozen or fresh—salads are complete meals by themselves Salads mean different things to different people. Most people take it to mean uncooked vegetables like cucumber and lettuce, sliced and served as such. The general impression is that a salad is any vegetable eaten raw, such as a piece of radish or a carrot. The most popular salad is onion slices with a piece of lime or maybe a little vinegar. An elaborate salad would include some other vegetables too, like tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, turnip, green chilies, lettuce and, of course, the inevitable lemon. Salt and black pepper powder may also be used to enhance the taste. Few people take the trouble of using conventional salad dressing like a French dressing or mayonnaise. Other food items can be used in salads. For instance, fruits like apples, pineapples, grapes and cherries are used in salads prepared with a French dressing. Vegetables like boiled peas may also be added. In a frozen gelatin-based salad, fruit juice may be used along with the fruit. It is somewhat like jelly, only much prettier as it is made up of fruit slices. A frozen salad with different-colored fruits makes for an attractive and appetizing spectacle on the dining table on hot summer afternoons. Come to think of it, there are umpteen salads, in existence and in imagination, because there is no fixed recipe for salads. They are made according to available resources, convenience and, of course, taste. There are plenty of salads that make use of some unconventional ingredients. The Waldorf salad is topped with chopped nuts. Then there are ‘ham and potato’ salads for non-vegetarians. Even salami, sausages and eggs may be used in combination with boiled vegetables and mayonnaise. There is yet another unusual salad known as the ‘seafood salad’, which has boiled rice, sweet corn, trout or salmon (if you are fond of fish) and prawn or crab apart from the usual vegetables and dressing! Salads can also constitute complete meals. After all, what does a balanced meal consist of? Bodybuilding proteins, energy-yielding carbohydrates and fats, vitamins and minerals. Various foodstuffs that provide these are meats, eggs and milk products for protein, fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, and cream, butter, salad oil, nuts, cereals and starchy tubers like potatoes for energy. Of all the food groups, routine salads that have slices of carrots, radish, tomatoes and onions provide vitamins and minerals. Such salads can be made tastier and more nutritious simply by adding a few other ingredients. A mixture of diced fruits and vegetables, a few pieces of cheese or some boiled corn would account for the protein, a boiled potato would provide the carbohydrates, and a few chopped nuts and a teaspoon of olive oil would give the required fat. With all the nutrients available, the humble salad becomes a complete meal!
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