I love salads!
What better way to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need during the day than a huge salad for lunch or dinner. Most people are hugely deficient in a wide spectrum of micro-nutrients that they need to function optimally. Fruits and vegetables, that should be staples of every meal, are being shunned in favor of processed and inferior foods. Be honest with yourself for a second. Are you getting all the nutrients you need every day? When was the last time you had a salad with more than just lettuce and dressing?
If you answered like I think you did, then do yourself a favor and think big with your salads. No veggies are off limits. If you like it, throw it in there. For instance, my salads are usually higher in fat and protein than many salads. This is due to my activity level and my preferences. They are good sources though. Cold-pressed oils, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, lentils, tempeh, and lots more.
And by all means have a salad as a meal, not just as a side dish or appetizer. A well thought out salad can be just as filling as a any meal out there and won’t leave you wishing you hadn’t eaten it like some foods will.
Here are some basic guidelines to creating a killer salad.
- Include more than one base. While spinach is great for you, mixed greens provide variety, and kale is a powerhouse, combing them creates a nutrient rich base to any salad. My favorite bases are spinach, endive, and red cabbage. Be creative and try all sorts of greens.
- Add more than one topping. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, celery, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, mushrooms, squash, just to name a few. Layer the veggies over each other to add variety and loads of different vitamins and minerals.
- Don’t shy away from fruits. Fruit can be a great addition to any salad as long as it is in moderation. Stick with one or two at the most. Apples, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, guava, papaya, coconut, pears, mangoes, watermelons, plus many more. These can add sweetness and vital micro-nutrients.
- Get your protein in there. Any great salad will include a protein source. My favorites are tempeh, almonds, and lentils, but if you are a meat eater you can include lean chicken or turkey breast, tuna, salmon, and sardines. This is another category where you can include whatever you like. If you like steak, by all means as long as its a lean cut.
- Throw some fat in there. There are great sources of healthy fats that should be included in every salad. Avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, healthy oils for dressing, and fish if that’s your thing.
- 99% of store bought salad dressings are garbage. Don’t use them. They are full of cheap oils, stabilizers, and preservatives. Not to mention loaded with sodium. Your best bet is to concoct your own dressing from a few ingredients at home. Start with an oil base. I use flax oil, but hemp oil, cold-pressed olive oil, avocado oil and most nut and seed oils are a safe bet. Throw in some flavor next. I like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper, but go with what you like. There is literally an unlimited number of combinations of homemade salad dressings to choose from.
In the end you are eating the salad, so only include foods you will enjoy. If you throw together some foods that are great for you but you can’t stand the taste, you are not doing yourself a favor. Expand your palate and venture outside of your comfort zone. You will be glad you did.