Many of us have a love hate relationship with salad.
We love the idea of being healthy, but we hate eating “rabbit food.” Fortunately, with a little effort, salads can be both nutritious and filling. May is National Salad Month, so there’s no better time to work on upping your salad game. Check out the tips below for making a great meal that also happens to be a salad:
1. Go green: Walk away from the iceberg. It’s nutritionally bankrupt, lower than other options in fiber, vitamins and minerals like iron. Instead, build your base with arugula, spinach or even kale. These dense greens will give you lots of great nutritional benefits and help keep you full. If you don’t love the flavor of these greens or are trying to save at the grocery store, create your own blend of lettuce that incorporates dark greens with lighter, cheaper choices. Greens should account for 60 percent of your salad.
2. Mix it up: Add flavor, texture and vitamins to your salad by incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Set yourself up for success by starting with your favorites and then branching out to other combinations. Roasted vegetables and cooked whole grains are other great additions. These ingredients should account for about 20 percent of your salad.
3. Get protein power: Lean proteins are essential in creating a salad that will fill you up and give you the energy you need to get through your day. Try adding three to four ounces of grilled chicken or half a cup of beans to your bowl – lentils, garbanzos and black beans are all great options. Protein should make up 10 percent of your salad.
4. Add a little fat: A little fat goes a long way when it comes to packing in flavor and keeping you full. Just one to one and a half ounces of a nutrient-dense fatty foods like avocado, nuts or seeds are great additions to your salad. Be careful not to overload on this step – only five percent of your salad should come from fat!
5. Top it off: Top off your creation with a few add-ins like fresh herbs, onions, pickled vegetables or even croutons. These tasty toppings should only account for five percent or less of your salad, but don’t worry – it will still taste great.
6. Dressed for success: By this point, you’ve done a lot of good work creating a delicious and nutritious salad. Don’t overwhelm those great flavors with too much dressing. Start with the recommended serving (or even less) and drizzle it over your salad. Taste and see if you need more. You might be surprised! When it comes to selecting your dressing, making your own or choosing an option that lists oil, water and some kind of vinegar as the first three ingredients are ideal. If you just can’t quit the ranch dressing, consider cutting it with water or Greek yogurt to reduce your calorie intake.