March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Looking for a new way to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables? Slaws are perfect, easy-to-prepare dishes. The varieties are many and the ingredients are plentiful, making them a brilliant twist on salads — and they are good for you, too.
While there are countless slaw variations, two traditional coleslaw ingredients are cabbage and carrots — both of which boast healthy nutrition profiles.
One cup of raw chopped cabbage offers a mere 22 calories and provides 2.2 grams of fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and provides phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. Carrots also are low in calories and packed with nutritional benefits: ½ cup of grated carrot has 23 calories, provides 1.5 grams of fiber, is an excellent source of vitamin A, and also contains lutein and zeaxanthin.
You can further boost the nutrition profile of your slaw by incorporating other nontraditional ingredients. Cut thin ribbons of broccoli, bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, beets, green papaya, apples, jicama or mango. Use a traditional mayonnaise dressing with fresh herbs, or change it up with a light rice vinaigrette or sesame-soy tahini combination.
Need some slaw inspiration? Here are some variations certain to please any palate.
- Sweet/tart slaws: Made with sweet dressings and flavorful vinegars, these slaws often include sweet fruits such as pineapple, apple or raisins. Dried cranberries, toasted almonds or thinly sliced fennel are other flavor enhancers.
- Creamy slaws: These mayonnaise-based slaws can be deliciously spicy when made with mustards and horseradish. Substitute low-fat versions of mayo, sour cream or yogurt and add broccoli, broccolini, chilies or red pepper flakes for more crunch and heat.
- Asian-inspired slaws: With no creamy ingredients and fewer added sugars than its traditional counterparts, common ingredients include ginger, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, green onions, dry noodles and peanuts.
- Exotic slaws: Exotic slaws may or may not include cabbage, but these varieties are considered slaws because of the way the vegetables, fruits or other ingredients are finely chopped and tossed together.
Sweet peppers, radicchio and squashes make for a colorful slaw as well. So be creative the next time you are browsing your grocery produce section. Your slaw recipe could be a big hit at the next family meal.