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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Lighten the poppy-seed dressing on a salad

 •  Sum of all great parts

By Elaine Magee

This spinach salad with poppy-seed dressing was lightened from 330 calories a serving to 210.

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Q. Show me what to do with this spinach salad made with peaches, pecans and poppy-seed dressing. The dressing alone calls for 1 cup of corn oil! We like to make it for warm summer suppers.

A. Spring has sprung in my corner of the country. So I figured it was time to test this fruity spinach salad sent by a reader in Virginia. The salad mix looks great baby spinach, sliced peaches, and pecans. However, 1 1/2 cups pecans for 8 servings (according to the original recipe) seemed a bit nutty, pardon the pun; I brought it down to 1 cup.

The dressing was almost all oil (1/2 cup), so I halved it and added two tablespoons of honey (in place of 3 tablespoons of sugar) and 3 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream. I also decreased the vinegar by one tablespoon because acidic flavors are more noticeable in a lower-fat dressing.

This may seem like a higher-fat salad but the fat comes from the pecans and the canola oil, both of which have smart fats mono-unsaturated fat with plant omega-3s sprinkled in.

Another option is to add a cup of spinach to 8 salad bowls and top evenly with the peaches and pecans. Then drizzle a generous tablespoon of dressing over each serving.

The original recipe had 330 calories and 29 grams of fat per serving.


  • 8 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried

  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces, toasted

  • 4 ripe peaches, sliced (sliced or chopped canned peaches can be substituted)

    Poppy-seed dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard

  • 1 teaspoon grated sweet or mild onion (1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion, like Onion Plus, can be substituted)

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

    Add spinach, pecans, and peaches to a large bowl.

    Add the dressing ingredients (except the poppy seeds) to a blender, food processor or small mixing bowl and process (or beat on medium-high) for 15-20 seconds. Stir in poppy seeds.

    Drizzle dressing over the salad ingredients in bowl and toss gently.

    NOTE: Toast pecans by laying the pecans in a single layer in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, stirring them often until they just begin to darken.

    Or you can arrange pecans on a baking sheet and roast in a 350-degree oven for about 7 minutes, until they just begin to darken.

    Makes 8 servings.

  • Per serving: 210 calories, 3 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 8.5 g monounsaturated fat, 4.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 174 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 60 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids, 0.4 g; omega-6, 4 g. Weight Watchers points 4.

    See www.recipedoctor.com to find out more about Elaine Magee's newest cookbook, "Comfort Food Makeovers."