Summer is here! Gone with the HOT meals and in with the COLD! Your taste buds are craving fresh, local foods, and a salad can be a 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, you may think that you are eating a healthy meal, but it may actually be the death of your diet! Here are some simple tips to make your salad the perfect meal for summer…
BOOST FIBRE WITH BEANS
I love adding any type of bean to my salad. It adds texture, flavor and fiber. Fiber is the key nutrient that not only keeps you full, fiber has a magical quality of entering your blood system and picking up bad estrogens and pulling it out of your body. Any bean will do – kidney, romano, mung, edamame, chic peas… Beans are best when purchased dried and prepared, however, in a pinch, certain canned beans are better than others – such as the EDEN brand that ensures BPA free cans and the beans are first pressure cooked to make them easier to digest. Check out our MCC recipe of the month – 3 in 1 bean salad recipe…
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 that fat 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 your 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. As the picture above, the fat choice is TZAITKI – and to ensure that I don’t go over the fat limit, I do get it portioned in my plate!
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, vinegar such as apple cider that adds enzymatic support, and even using unique oils that have anti-inflammatory properties like flax seed oil. One of my favorite homemade dressings is 1/4 cup of flax seed oil + juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1/2 tsp Herbamere – whisk and pour directly on to the salad!
ADD COLOUR SHAPES AND SIZES
We tend to keep our salads too simple – make your salad picture worthy! Add color from greens – and all shades of green – reds – yellows – even blues and purples! Colour will right away create a mental excitement to eat the salad as well will offer your body phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are powerful nutrients within the color of foods, that improve your cellular health and thus boosting your immunity and overall health. In addition to color, pay attention to the size and texture. For instance, by cutting kale really small and massaging it for a few seconds prior to using it, will make it taste more sweat! Also add texture, many times I add fennel to my salad – this brings an element of “crunchy” to my salad – the more elements the more chance I will feel satisfied with the taste.
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, it is important that when you add your protein to think sometimes OUT OF THE BOX…first try chicken in different ways, recently I purchased a salad at SUBWAY and they were offering roasted chicken. This made my salad taste completely different and it was a nice change from the obvious GRILLED! Beyond chicken, however, there is – eggs, shrimp, beef, cheese chunks, leftover grilled salmon, ground meat for more of a tex mex style, or canned sardines or anchovies.