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Do it yourself but do it with care

SALADS are the ideal spring food, especially for anyone planning to lose weight for the summer. But there can be dangers with these tasty light weight meals as Fei Lai discovers

Salads are popular not just because they are fresh and tasty but also because they are the ultimate do-it-yourself meals. You can combine exactly the tastes and ingredients that suit you on any particular day.

As spring approaches, more and more people keen on a healthy life style will be thinking about salads but even these fresh and wholesome meals come with some warnings.

If you are aiming to lose weight in the new year, you have to pay attention not just to the ingredients but to the salad dressing as well.

There are many salad dressings available. But choose carefully - some dressings can turn your healthy meal into a fat-laden food with the wrong taste, according to Jin Shan, program development director of Weight Watchers Danone (China) Ltd, one of the world's leading weight management companies.

"Traditional salad dressings such as Thousand Island dressing or cream-based dressings tend to have high fat and sodium content, but this can be replaced by using yogurt made with skim milk, a tomato-based ketchup version or a homemade sauce using fresh vegetables," Jin says.

When dining at restaurants, he also recommends that you can ask the waiter to put the salad dressings on the side, so that you add only the amount of dressing you need.

"Be sure to ask about the size of and ingredients in your dish before you order. You should choose dishes according to the number of people at the table," he says.

"One had better change from impulsive and sometimes irrational ordering and only order what you can and should eat."

Making your own salads means you can cater for your own tastes perfectly, the ultimate do-it-yourself food.

Apart from standards like leafy greens, vegetables and different types of fruit and nuts, fish and meat are common ingredients.

They not only provide different flavors, but also nutritional content, healthy fiber and some fats.

"When it comes to ingredients, you should be aware that excessive use of nuts, fish or meats in salads can tilt your weight loss plan in the wrong direction," Jin says.

"According to the Chinese Nutrition Society, the average adult intake which is considered healthy, is 6-7 grams of nuts or the equivalent to 10 to 12 pistachios or one walnut. When it comes to meat and fish, at least 50-100 grams of fish or shrimp and 50-75 grams of meat a day is considered healthy."

Low fat options such as Kewpie low fat sweet mayonnaise or Newman's Own natural line of healthy salad dressings can be sensible choices for DIY salads at home, according to Jin.

Jin suggests trying these tasty DIY solutions. With spring around the corner and salad on our plates, let's eat wisely and healthily not just for ourselves but for our families.


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