A salad can be one of the healthiest dishes in your diet – or it can be a diet nightmare! Whether it’s a hit or a miss depends largely on what toppings and dressings you pick.
The veggie part of the salad is pretty easy to get right. Try to select darker greens for the base of the salad because they pack a bigger nutritional punch than lettuces like iceberg or romaine. Choosing spinach, Swiss chard or kale will supercharge your salad with nutrients.
Nutrition-Packed, Healthy Salads Are Colorful
When building a great salad, let color lead the way! The more natural colors there are in your salad, the more types of health-promoting phytonutrients – flavonoids and carotenoids – your salad contains.
Don’t get caught in a lettuce, cucumber, and tomato rut! Expand your palate to include:
- green, red, orange and yellow peppers
- red onions
- green beans
- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
- grapes, raisins, dried cranberries
- apple, pear, Asian pear
Remember, too, to choose organic vegetables and fruits as much as you can to avoid toxic herbicide residues!
Rabbit Food No More – Make that Salad a Hearty Meal!
The next step to a really healthy salad is to top it with some insulin-balancing and hunger-quenching protein and healthy fat.
Some of my favorite picks are:
- nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
- cheese (feta, goat, cheddar)
- seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
- grilled organic chicken, grass-fed beef or wild-caught, smaller fish
- green peas
- chickpeas, beans
Be sure to avoid processed carb additions like crunchy noodles and croutons, and just say no to processed bacon-bits, which are full of sodium and preservatives. Also, when possible, avoid deli meats, as these tend to contain nitrites.
Dress for Success with Olive Oil!
Keep that salad pristine by using a dressing with beneficial fats and tasty seasonings. You can turn an otherwise healthy salad into an inflammatory nightmare by drenching it a dressing made of cheap oils, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors. The best way to avoid ruining a great salad with a terrible dressing is to break your dependence on store-bought versions and instead take a few extra minutes to make your own dressing. Each of the featured salads below includes olive oil dressing recipes that are a cinch to make. Give homemade olive oil dressings a try…I guarantee, you’ll never go back to store bought!
Ingredients for a Wonderful Olive Oil Dressing
There are countless flavor-packed dressings that you can make using just olive oil, vinegar, and spices. Just make sure you’ve got some of these items on hand:
- A high quality cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil – avoid canola, corn and other inflammatory oils.
- A flavor-packed vinegar – I like balsamic and apple cider vinegars best for adding some bite to an otherwise bland salad.
- Lemons or lemon juice – one of my favorite dressings – especially on arugula – is simply made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
- Chopped fresh garlic – keeps vampires away too!
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices – you can toss chopped fresh garden herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, dill, basil or tarragon with the salad, or add dried herbs to your olive oil dressing. Both will add savory, palate-enhancing flavor to your salad!
- Salt and pepper – Himalayan and Sea salts are all great options, preferable to standard table salt.
Other useful additions may include:
- Fruit juice
- Grated cheese
- Cream or yogurt
You could also experiment with cold-pressed flavored olive oils, substituting them for extra virgin olive oil.
The recipes here can help you get started making appetizing, hearty, healthy, and energy-sustaining salads with my favorite topper – olive oil dressing! Bon appétit!
You can find more recipes here.
From my heart to yours,
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