Summer is here, which means out with the hot meals and in with the cold! Your taste buds will be craving fresh foods when the heat hits, and a hearty salad can be the perfect fit. Salads are labeled as one of the healthiest meals, and rightfully so – there are so many healthy ingredients that can be tossed into a salad! However, many times a salad can be laden with unwanted calories, depending on what you’re adding to it. Here are some simple tips to make your salad the perfect meal for summer.
Boost Fiber With Beans
Adding any type of bean to your salad adds texture, flavor and fiber. Fiber is the key nutrient that not only keeps you full, but also has a magical quality of entering your blood system, picking up bad estrogens and pulling them out of your body. Any bean will do – kidney, romano, mung, edamame, chick peas, etc. Beans are best when purchased dried and prepared, however, in a pinch, certain canned beans are better than others – such as the EDEN Organics brand that ensures BPA free cans and that the beans are first pressure cooked to make them easier to digest.
Choose Your Fat Wisely
We now all know that fat is not as bad as once thought; in fact, it is a very powerful nutrient that fuels your brain and is an integral part of every body system. The first step is to ensure the fat you are choosing is in fact healthy. Choosing processed oils such as vegetable, canola, store-bought salad dressings and even nuts that are roasted and salted, are unhealthy choices that are downgrading the health of your salad big time! Instead, you want to opt for minimally processed oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or even the whole avocado, or raw nuts and seeds. Once you have identified the healthy fat that you wish to use, keep an eye on the portion. Fat servings are small – oils are about a tablespoon and nuts and seeds are about 2 tablespoons. Adding too much fat will spike the calories of a salad into a whole new dimension.
When it comes to salad dressing, fat is not the only nutrient to look out for. Many dressings contain sugars, preservatives, and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). I suggest avoiding all premade dressings and opt to make your own. Not only will you ensure that the ingredient choices are clean, you can also find ways to maximize the health of the dressing by adding fresh herbs, vinegars such as apple cider which adds enzymatic support, and even using unique oils that have anti-inflammatory properties like flax seed oil. One of my favorite homemade dressings:
- 1/4 cup of flax seed oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Herbamere
- Whisk all ingredients together and pour directly on your salad
Add Colour, Shapes & Sizes
Most people tend to keep salads too simple – why not make your salad picture worthy! Add colour from greens – and all shades of green – reds – yellows – even blues and purples! Colour will right away create excitement to eat the salad and will offer your body phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are powerful nutrients within the colour of foods that improve your cellular health, thus boosting your immunity and overall health. In addition to colour, pay attention to the size and texture of what you’re adding to your salad. For instance, by cutting kale really small and massaging it for a few seconds prior to using it, it will taste more sweet! Also try adding texture; fennel is a great addition to salads, bringing an element of “crunchy” with a unique flavour. The more elements you add, the more you will feel satisfied with the taste and experience.
Go Beyond Chicken
Protein is an essential part of any salad. It ensures meal satisfaction and is supportive of your macro needs. Chicken will get boring, so it is important that when you add your protein you try and think out of the box. First, try adding chicken in different ways, such as roasted or grilled! Other protein options include eggs, shrimp, beef, cheese chunks, leftover grilled salmon, ground meat for more of a tex-mex style, or canned fish like tuna or sardines.
A version of this article was written by Patsy Commisso, previously published on MCC.fit.
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