Think salad is a side dish but never a meal? Think again! These easy tips prove that salad is not only hearty and filling, but also one of the best ways to get creative in the kitchen. Experimenting with different combinations of ingredients is one of the best ways to create your own signature salad recipe. Variety is the key to healthy eating and covering all of your nutritional bases. Forget boring, leafy lettuce and try the following easy tips to turn your side salad into your main course!
Use the big bowl
Say goodbye to small portions and eat a full plate for dinner! Salads, when prepared with whole, nutritious foods, fall into a category of eating known as volumetrics; this focuses on eating larger portions of less calorie-dense foods, which supports healthy weight and healthy appetites! It’s very difficult to overeat when you’re eating nutrient-dense foods.
Play around with your choice of greens
There are virtually endless varieties when it comes to the base of your salad: the greens! Romaine and iceberg are fine, but don’t have nearly the same amount of antioxidants and vitamin content as darker greens. Try mixing massaged kale, spinach or arugula into your salad base, and make this the largest part of your salad.
Pump up the protein
Salad isn’t just rabbit food. In fact, it pairs perfectly with nearly all types of proteins. Try adding steak, poultry, shrimp, fish, beans, eggs or tofu to the mix. When fiber from greens meets protein, yoy get a sure-fire way to feel fuller, longer!
Don’t forget the carbs
Yes, healthy carbohydrates are good for you! Researchers at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo found that the healthiest people in the world actually eat plenty of carbs – within reason, of course! Always choose whole grain or complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, whole grain noodles, couscous, rice, quinoa, etc. Carbs should only account for about a third of the salad, with greens being the star of the dish.
Fill up with fruits and veggies
Add a rainbow to your salad! Focus on filling and nutrient-dense ingredients such as corn, broccoli, pumpkin, beets, green beans, and squash. For an added flavor boost, play around with fruits such as mango, apples, grapes and orange wedges. Don’t be afraid to add generous portions of fruits and veggies to your salad recipe.
Go a little nuts
Yes, nuts are high in fat, but in moderation they are an excellent addition to our diet! Unsaturated fats like the ones found in nuts can actually help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help to satisfy your hunger. Add a small handful of almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, or cashews to your salad. Allergic to nuts? Try pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Add a little dip
Salads don’t need to be dry or boring; add a little dip! Try a scoop of hummus, guacamole, black bean dip or baba ganoush (eggplant dip). This is a great alternative to many heavy salad dressings, which can make a salad about as healthy as a fast food meal.
Make homemade dressing
Store-bought salad dressings are big no-no, and are often full of preservatives, saturated fats, sugar and salt. Make your own healthy dressing by playing with different variations of extra-virgin olive oil, flavored vinegars, dijon mustard, lemon/lime juice, spices, and herbs. Try adding nutritional yeast, which tastes slightly nutty in flavor, to thicken dressings and adds a healthy dose of Vitamin B12.
This article was republished with permission from HispanicKitchen.com