Think salads are healthy—but boring? Well, think again.
Healthy, tasty salads brighten up any meal—or can be a main course in their own right. You can make a green salad at home in 5 minutes, armed with a bag of pre-washed salad greens, a few carrots or other veggies, and a quick dressing. Salads are cool, crunchy, and fun to eat with lots of textures, colors, and flavors.
Try these healthy salad tips to widen your salad repertoire.
I like to use salad greens as my strong foundation for any salad. Like any meal, your salad should have protein, fat and carbohydrate. I like to get my carbohydrates (sugar) from vegetables. Aim for plate full of veggies, a palm size protein and a splash of oil for an optimal meal.
Step 1 – Vegetables for fiber and raw enzymes
Rotate and mix different greens like Romaine, COS and gem lettuce, mustard greens, lamb lettuces, watercress, arugula, radicchio, chicory or endive, escarole, mizuna, cabbage, or raw red beets.
Don’t forget to add bitter greens – watercress, landcress, chicory, radicchio, kale, mustard greens, escarole, or rocket because they help to balance milder lettuces and to curb your cravings for sweets.
You would be surprised that steamed, sautéed or even pickled vegetables like sauerkraut, asparagus, beet root or artichoke could add character to your salad.
Just top them on your greens and you have something new. Don’t forget about bell peppers for vitamin C, carrots for beta-carotene, cucumber for silicone, tomatoes for lycopene, and red onions for best natural sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that is particularly well suited for scavenging free radicals.
Step 2 – -Protein for energy and to feel fuller longer
Protein is an essential nutrient which helps form the structural component of body tissues and is used within many biological processes, for example protein is used to make enzymes, antibodies to help us fight infection as well as DNA the building blocks to life.
It’s also needed to make up muscle tissue which in turn helps to keep our bodies active, strong, and healthy.
But we have tendency to overdo it with protein, especially with the new Paleo trend. True Paleo is mainly vegetables and fruit; protein should just be a flavoring.
Furthermore, excess of protein is stored as fat! Stay away from caloric or processed meats like bacon and salami, and definitely skip anything fried or drenched in heavy sauce.
1. Animal protein – grilled chicken, grilled, smoked or steamed fish and seafood, boiled or deviled egg
2. Pulses – sautéed spicy chickpeas, lentils, beans
3. Nuts and seeds
Step 3 – -Healthy fat to power every cell in your body, and especially – brain
Gram for gram fats are the most efficient source of food energy. Plus Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that the fat in foods helps the intestines absorb these vitamins into the body.
3. Olive oil
Step 4 – Dress it up lightly
Some people eat salad only if it’s doused with dressing. Unfortunately, dressing can take a salad from fresh and nutritious to downright unhealthy. Ask for the dressing on the side when ordering or make your own. A few of my favorites are Pumpkin Seed Dressing or Tahini Dressing.
1. Olive oil and lemon juice to bring up flavors and increase nutritional value of vegetables
3. Dollop of pesto
Step 5 – Something Extra
Herbs and spices have more disease-fighting antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables and they add flavor without the fat, salt or sugar.
1. Herbs and seasonings, just sprinkle a handful of chopped up parsley, basil or coriander for an extra boost of nutrients.
2. Sprouts, especially broccoli sprouts are super nutritious.
3. Baked and chopped sweet potato.
Make salad your go-to healthy meal. Be creative, mix and match and you will have satisfying meal that will fill you up with fiber and protein—not calories. Looking for some tasty salad recipes?
Try some of my favorite recipes Raw beetrood salad, Cabbage Sprout and Asparagus salad or Courgette Salad with Lemon and Mint.