ABC to XYZ in Foods: Lettuce - America's diet food of choice

Salads have become the icon of dieting, but some can have more calories than a three-course meal. Dressing is where a lot of calories hide out. File photo
Bette Banjack

LETTUCE - When I was a kid, the only kind of lettuce available seemed to be iceberg lettuce.

Over the years, other varieties have been added, such as bib or leaf lettuce. There is romaine, which has the largest amount of vitamins and minerals, with iceberg offering the least nutrients. Lettuce is low in calories, fat, fiber and sodium, with no cholesterol.

Since apples, pears, melons and bananas release certain gases that cause brown spots to form on lettuce, do not store them near it. Always get rid of slimy lettuce, as it is caused by bacterial decomposition and not at all good. Lettuce will stay fresh and crisp for up to three weeks if you wrap it in plastic and store in the refrigerator. The colder the storage, the longer the lettuce will keep.

Way back when, the only thing to do with iceberg lettuce was to make a salad. I do recall my mother making lettuce soup once in a while.

I never thought much of lettuce; it was the condiments that you add, especially the dressing. Today, salads have become the icon of dieting. Salads can have many more calories than a three-course meal. Dressing is where a lot of calories hide out.

Grilled Lettuce Wedges

An unusual way to prepare your lettuce

· Small to medium head of iceberg lettuce

· Peanut or sesame seed oil

· Light sprinkle of salt and pepper

· Salad dressing of choice

Quarter head of iceberg lettuce, brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on grill, flat side down. You can use an electric, gas, charcoal or a stovetop grill or pan. Brown on all sides until a little crispy. Serve with your choice of salad dressing.

LEMONS & LIMES – More likely than not, purchased lemons and limes are often waxed. So before peeling or grating, scrub them to remove the wax with a stiff brush.

Skins of lemons and limes contain oils, which can be removed by zesting or grating. Once you get to the white membrane under the skin, you will find it to be bitter, so best not to use.

Look for firm lemons and limes heavy for their size. Lemons will keep for four weeks and limes up to eight weeks. Once cut, wrap tightly in plastic and store in refrigerator and use as soon as possible. Deeply colored fruit is the best and has better flavor than pale ones.

Lemons and limes are egg-shaped, with the exception of the Key limes, which are small and round, and a true lime. The egg-shaped, green-colored limes that we see the most are an actual hybrid.

You can freeze grated peels, but they may lose some of their flavor.

Because limes are small and travel well, the eighteenth century British navy brought them aboard their ships. This helps prevent scurvy, a painful vitamin C-deficiency. It is believed that is how British sailors got the nickname of “Limeys.”

Fresh-squeezed lemon and lime has the most Vitamin C. Not the first or best choice, but bottled lemon and lime juice is handy to have in your refrigerator.

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Good Food for a Good Life!