I used to be from the camp that a salad can be a side dish, but rarely would it be hearty enough to constitute a meal. Then I realized I just wasn’t adding enough to my salad. A salad with only vegetables will surely leave you wanting more, but with a few added ingredients it can be a satisfying meal all by itself. The great thing about salads is that they create an easy way to incorporate more raw foods into your diet. Raw foods, for the most part, are superior nutritionally to those that are cooked, so it’s important that you aren’t eating 100% of your foods cooked. Mix it up. Salads are a great way to do this, so here’s what you need to do.
Start with your greens and fresh veggies.
I’ve been eating a lot of salads for lunch lately, and it’s so easy to prepare them when my basic ingredients are ready to go. Right when I get home from the grocery store I get my stuff ready for the week. I wash, dry, and store my lettuce in a plastic bag. Next, I wash and chop my fresh vegetables so they are ready for salads or snacking.
Add some healthy fats.
Adding healthy fats to your salad will help you digest the carbohydrates from the vegetables and keep your insulin level steady. (Remember the random diets I wrote about? This is one good thing I learned from reading The Zone.) I always have a good variety of raw nuts and seeds in my pantry, so I start there. I usually sprinkle on some sunflower seeds and almond slices. Avocado slices are another great choice for adding healthy fats to your salad.
Add a protein.
This is what is going to help make the salad more filling and keep you full longer. My favorite thing to add is beans. Tim likes adding a little shredded cheese and sometimes some cooked chicken. Today I actually added some salmon (look for the recipe next week). Another option is tofu if that’s your thing.
Be smart with your dressing.
It’s really easy to ruin a good salad with the dressing. Healthy super market dressings are hard to find, and when you do they are usually pricey. You’re better off making your own. It’s so easy. My favorite combo. is extra-virgin olive oil+balsamic vinegar+dijon mustard+pure maple syrup. By making your own you can control the sugar content, type of oil, and ensure you aren’t getting any fake ingredients (because those are not good!). Not to mention nearly every store-bought dressing has high-fructose corn syrup. Ugh.
Here’s a salad I had for dinner the other night. Tim wasn’t having dinner at home and I needed something quick with easy clean up because we had somewhere to be right after dinner. I had some black bean and corn salad already made in the fridge, so that was piled on top. This one also included homemade herbed croutons for extra crunch. So good!
Are you wondering what Meghan had for dinner when I had this big salad? While she would never eat a big pile of food all mixed together, she took her salad deconstructed, thank you very much. 🙂
We both enjoyed Chocolate-Raspberry Parfaits for dessert. Yum!