Salads are a gift from the planet- there's no denying that the bounty of the earth is best displayed in a big color-filled bowl of veggies, lean protein and quality carbohydrates. So how do we do them right? Especially since we can't subsist on iceberg lettuce (not the best nutritional variety) alone, and restaurant salads are now so packed with junk it is better to have a hamburger!
So here's the perfect formula for a healthy salad that will propel you towards better health, without the crap.
1. Start with the darkest greens you can find to maximize the nutrient value of your salad- most of the time that's spinach. But don't get hung up on it- pick whatever green base you like. You won't eat it if you start with a foundation you don't like. Greens are important for volume-and reduce the chance that you'll fill your salad bowl with junk.
2. Add some moisture- in the form of vegetables, or non-sweet fruits like peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. Want that glowy skin? Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. These make your salad more colorful, and therefore nutritious and interesting- and help create that glow you can show off. Go crazy- add as much as you want to. Waterous (is that a word) vegetables also help keep you full.
3. Pitch in some protein using lean options like a combination of rice & beans (my fave!), your favorite chicken recipe (try my diet coke chicken recipe), tenderloin, tofu, tempeh or fish. Keep it to a half (1/2) a cup, or 3 oz if you are weighing the protein. Is it redundant if I mention this should not be breaded, nor fried, nor fatty options? You all know that.
4. Get fat in there too. And I'm not kidding. I love adding 1/2 an avocado to my salads either cubed, or on the side to spoon out. Other options can be the dressing you use.
5. Dress it with only the highest quality olive oil (best taste) with lemon juice and best-quality balsamic vinaigrette. It's the simplest, and best choice for bringing out the natural greatness already in your bowl. Just for kicks, try reading the label of most grocery-store dressings- I bet you can't pronounce or spell in a bee most of the ingredients. That means- don't you put it in your mouth.
6. Lastly, add your pizazz, your flair, your style in a tasteful way. Keep additions like dried fruit and nuts to very small proportions and never candied options. They are there to add crunch and interest- so don't forget them. Just don't blow your bowl of goodness with over-using complimentary additions. I use 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds or hemp hearts, or 2 Tbsp of pumpkin or sunflower seeds, raw and un-salted and un-sweetened. Try fresh fruit options instead of dried ones to add to the moisture content instead of dried options.