Category Archives: Salads

Nuttin’ But Salads N=1 Experiment: Week 5 Summary

Hard to see the bed of leafy greens

Weight is down to 164 lb (74.4 kg), having started five weeks ago at 175.5 lb (79.8 kg). So 11 lb in five weeks. Not bad!

I didn’t buy this at Costco but it looked wonderful and would easily feed two. Great deal for the price. Costco has good prices on salad greens.

My compliance has been good except for tonight when my wife and I ate at The Keg steakhouse. I had arctic char (my first time, tastes like salmon), creamed cauliflower, roasted l0w-carb veggies, sourdough bread, 6 fl oz red wine, and Billy Miner Pie (mostly mocha ice cream). My weight should be up a couple pounds tomorrow.

Before: My wife found this at Domino’s Pizza. Surprisingly good and fresh, for $5 USD. One small meal.

After mixing

I still haven’t done nutritional analysis of my meals. Wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t meet the RDIs for calcium and vitamin D. I haven’t spent much time in the sun this winter.

The chicken breast on this was prepared sous vide style with Montreal steak seasoning, then pan-seared

My waistline is an inch narrower. I still can’t see a six-pack so I think I’ll keep on the Nuttin’ But Salads diet for now, adding a multivitamin and vitamin D “just to be sure.”

I like this Newman’s Own dressing. First ingredient is olive oil blend, unlike most commercial vinaigrettes that first list water or canola oil. Pour spout is messy, but I can live with that.

I feel good and my workouts are going well w/o reduction in performance.

One of our favorites

Do the eggs make you think “breakfast salad”? I gained a couple pounds after eating this cheese-laden meal, and then did a 24-hour fast.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Nuttin’ But Salads N=1 Experiment: Week 4 Summary

Mixed greens, cheese, walnuts, sous vide chicken, mandarin orange wedges, dried cranberries

My weight is down to 165.8 lb (75.4 kg), compared to 167.4 lb (76.1 kg) last week.


I feel good. Workouts are going well. No muscle cramps. I’m feeling a bit chilly much of the time, but that may be because winter finally came to southern Arizona.

Found in the hospitalist office. Not a salad. Didn’t eat any.

I’m eating two big salads a day and that’s it. Remember, I’m relatively sedentary so don’t need lots of calories. If I had a physical job, I might need to eat more often. I’m not bothered much by hunger or temptation. I wonder if I’m in ketosis. Perhaps proper mindset is a large part of my success.

I’m starting to wonder if I might eventually see my six-pack abs. They’re in there. Under an inch of fat.

 Steve Parker, M.D. 

Nuttin’ But Salads N=1 Experiment: Week 3 Summary

Peanut M&Ms in my employer’s office at the hospital. Very tempting but not salad, so not going down my gullet.

Weight today is 167.4 lb (76.1 kg) compared to 168 lb last week, so may or may not be a significant drop. Weight when I started three weeks ago was 175.5 lb (79.8 kg).

Mozzarella cheese, shrimp, roasted garlic cloves, olives, salami, spinach, tomato, and roasted peppers from a jar

Chicken salad on a bed of greens plus tomatoes and strawberries

Salami, greens, olives, cheese, fresh basil

Left-over chicken from El Pollo Loco, greens, avocado, blackberries, pecans, strawberries

Caprese salad-style platter that the whole family munched on. With olive oil and vinegar.

Similar to one above

I was running late for work, didn’t have time to make a salad, so I threw these into my lunch bucket as a substitute: canned oysters and mackerel, apple, avocado

Microwaved pre-cooked frozen meatballs on a bed of mixed greens including asparagus sautéed in butter

Not salad, so not eating it. M&Ms in the Resident’s Office at the hospital.

I feel good. Workouts are going well. I’ve had a few nocturnal muscle cramps like when I was on my ketogenic diet several years ago. I wonder if a calcium supplement would suppress those cramps, but they don’t bother me enough to even fool with it. I’ve been taking mag oxide 800 mg/day for a while, hoping it will keep keep a lid on my blood pressure.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: That serving of mackerel provides 31% of the RDA for vitamin D, 20 grams of protein, 773 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, and 15% of the calcium RDA. That vitamin D is important to me since I’m not getting much sun now, and this salad diet may be an insufficient source. Calcium intake may also be inadequate. I haven’t done any nutrient analysis yet.

PPS: Or maybe I shouldn’t worry about adequate nutrients. Don Gorske is on target eat his 30,000th McDonald’s Big Mac on May 4. Two of the burgers a day is about all he eats!

Which Salad Greens Are the Most Nutritious?

Kale on the left, mustard greens on the right

Since I’m eating nuttin’ but salads these days, I want to be sure I’m getting adequate nutrition. There are about 40 essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids, “essential” meaning necessary for life and health.

I haven’t found a good source yet for estimates of non-vitamin anti-oxidants and other non-essential nutrients. There are probably hundreds of these that are not essential for life, but optimize health and longevity.

FitDay makes it easy to compare multiple nutrients in various foods. Their standard analysis includes fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and zinc.

I compared 12 salad greens for content of these 18 nutrients. Here’s how they stack up, with the most nutritious first and least nutritious last. If two cups of the item provide at least 20% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for a specific nutrient, I’ve listed it in parentheses.

  1. Dandelion greens (vitamins A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, iron, riboflavin)
  2. Kale (vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, copper, iron, mangenese)
  3. Brussels sprouts (fiber, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, iron, manganese, thiamine)
  4. Cabbage, green (vitamin C)
  5. Spinach (vitamin A, iron, manganese)
  6. Chard (vitamin A, vitamin C)
  7. Celery
  8. Cucumber
  9. Collards (vitamin A, vitamin C)
  10. Lettuce, romaine or cos (vitamin A, vitamin C)
  11. Lettuce, green leaf (vitamin A)
  12. Lettuce, presumptively iceberg

Dandelion greens and kale are the clear stand-outs, a coin toss to declare one better than the other. Brussels sprouts and cabbage have very similar profiles. Spinach and chard were close. Iceberg lettuce doesn’t have much to recommend it. The list above is essentially one of descending nutrient density.

To learn more about nutrient density, visit Marty Kendall at Optimising Nutrition.

Have I left out any of your favorite salad greens?

Steve Parker, M.D.

Nuttin’ But Salads N=1 Experiment: Week 2 Summary

Surprisingly filling. Note three fruits: strawberries, blueberries, and mandarin orange.

I’m a day late for my Week 2 Summary because I was out of town yesterday and had no access to my scale. Weight today is 168 lb (76.4 kg), so down 5 lb (2.3 kg) in the last seven days. That’s amazing and I’m not sure it’s real and repeatable. I may be up a couple pounds by tomorrow.

Weight loss total since starting the experiment 16 days ago: 7.5 lb loss (3.4 kg), from 175.5 to 168 lb.

This good-looking salad is from El Pollo Loco. I topped it with chicken.

I feel good and have plenty of energy. On day 10 I noticed I didn’t have much appetite and tended to eat just because I knew I needed to. I don’t spend much time thinking about foods I should miss, like pizza, pastries, candy, and bread.

This salad was a dud. We saw a five-bean salad in a jar at Sam’s Club, marinated with sugar and vinegar. Just a bad combination with other items on the plate. Even by itself, it’s not my cup ‘o tea. The chicken was one of Sam’s $5 roasted chickens. I learned that I don’t particularly like dark meat on my salads.

I’ve been lifting weights for several years, twice weekly. I did my first weight-lifting session on day 3 or so of this experiment. I noticed my performance was down about 5% from baseline. The workout was harder than usual. But that has not happened since.

My only cheat meal thus far. My wife made us filet mignon, sautéed asparagus, and chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentine’s Day.

A typical large salad takes me 25 minutes to eat, not counting conversation or distractions. Lots of chewing. I’ve never times my meals before, but doubt they took this long.

I got my wife a Lamborghini for Valentine’s Day

When I’m tempted by fat-promoting food, I tell myself, “No, I’m eating Nuttin’ But Salads.”

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: My weight the day after the original post was 168.6 (76.6 kg), not 168 lb. Go figure.

PPS: Weight two days after the post was 167.6 lb (76.1 kg).

Nuttin’ But Salads N=1 Experiment: Week 1 Summary


Let’s call this a chef salad (or is it chef’s salad?)

Click to learn what I’m doing.

My wife made nearly all of the salads. I have a few days off from my 12-hour shifts and will try to put at least one new super-salad together.

This is a taco salad. You can’t see much of the spicy hamburger meat under the quacamole. Somewhat time-consuming to make, but delicious.

My initial weight was 175.5 lb (79.8 kg). A week later I’m down to 171.6 lb (78 kg). Rounding off, that’s down 4 lb (1.8 kg). (See postscripts below!)

That 4 pounds can’t all be fat. Most of it must be water loss, lowered intestinal content, and perhaps lowered stores of glycogen in muscle and liver. I doubt any of it is muscle loss because I’m careful to eat adequate protein and am working out with weights twice weekly. From here on out the weight loss will slow dramatically if not stall completely.

Chicken salad with tomatoes and almond slivers

I like the simplicity of eating two large salads a day, and nothing else. In the event I get hungry between meals, I’m allowing another salad or a protein food (meat, eggs, fish, chicken, etc). But I haven’t done that yet. I eat before and after my shifts at the hospital. I’ve successfully fought off the temptations in the Doctor’s Lounge, my employer’s office, and invitations to the nurses’ potluck dinners.

That’s spiralized raw zucchini on top, canned beets on the sides

My wife has been in contact with 30+ folks online about the potential of this type of weight-loss program. Nearly all say “Yeah, I could see this happening, but only if I could have just one regular meal a day.” OK…but if it’s the wrong meal, you ain’t gonna lose weight. And does that meal start you down the slippery slope of noncompliance that ends in failure?

No name

I haven’t done any nutritional analysis yet. Maybe in the coming month.

Fajita salad?

I saw an ad on TV for Jenny Craig yesterday. They promised weight loss “up to 16 pounds in four weeks.” I have a powerful word to describe my opinion on that claim, but in the interest of decorum I’ll just say I’m skeptical. On the other hand, they could have said “up to 160 pound in four weeks” and both claims technically would be accurate. The key is “up to….” Up to includes both zero pounds lost and even weight gain. The average TV viewer is going to hear “up to 16 pounds in four weeks”and think, “Man, that sounds like a great program and I’m really going to lose a lot of weight quick!” But that’s not Jenny Craig’s fault.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The day after I wrote this, my weight was 173.6 lb. So up from 171.6 That’s not an unusual fluctuation for someone my size. Assuming my scale is accurate, the change reflects hydration status, intestinal contents, and recent food intake.

PPS: Weight two days after original post was 173 lb (78.6 kg). The 171.6 above seems to have been a fluke. I’ll revise my first-week weight loss to 2.5 lb (1.1 kg).

This is one I made in a rush just before going to the hospital. I’d never tried canned makerel before – not bad. The red container holds commercial balsamic vinaigrette.

Nuttin’ But Salads: An N=1 Experiment

I could stand to lose about 10 pounds of excess fat. I’m sure my 20-year-old suits would fit better around the waist. Not that I’m overweight or fat. My BMI is 24.4 (weight 175.5 lb and height 5 feet and 11.25 inches. (Damn. I’m only 63 and already have some age-related shrinkage.)

So what I’m going to do for the next 30 days is eat only salads and see what happens. Not bland iceberg lettuce salads with a few tomato wedges drizzled with ranch dressing. No, these will be super-salads, meaning they provide an adequate amount of the myriad nutrients necessary for health. Right now I can tell you this will require variety and supplemental protein compared to the salads most folks visualize.

Salads have a long history of being “diet food.” Yet I can’t think of an extant popular diet based on them.

Any thoughts or predictions?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: How could a “nuttin’ but salads” diet lead to weight loss? I’m thinking there are certain foods that make people get fat, and avoiding them may lead to weight loss or prevent excessive weight gain. Certainly there are exceptions, but I’ve noticed the following items make people fat and keep them fat:

  • sugars, particularly if refined and concentrated
  • starches, particularly if refined and concentrated
  • soda pop, pastries, bread in all forms, pizza, candy, chips, cookies, cake, ice cream, pie, pasta, etc.
  • foods that taste too good, leading to over-consumption
  • excessive calories (from any source?)

I’m not sure about potatoes, beans, nuts, cheeses, and rice.

I also wonder if excessive variety may be a problem for many trying to lose weight, leading to too much temptation and experimentation. Maybe it’s good to get sick and tired of always eating the same thing. Maybe all you need is 3–4 different kinds of salads, plus protein food, and 1–2 fruits a day. Add more only when (if ever?) down to goal weight. Make a huge bowl of salad in the AM and eat it at mealtimes 2–3 times a day; make a different salad tomorrow?