Are you a salad enthusiast? I hope so, and if not, I anticipate you will be very soon! There’s something about summer that makes people more likely to indulge in appetizing summer salads. Perhaps it’s the freshness of the veggies, possibly it’s the crunch or maybe it’s the desire to have something lighter in your tummy while hurrying around doing daily errands. This post is all about how to build the perfect summer salad to keep you full and satisfied… After all, a well constructed salad is one of life’s great pleasures. So, lettuce begin!
Step 1: Load up with veggies and fruit. Salads are incomplete without crunch. Ditch the lettuce for more robust greens like kale, cabbage, rocket and baby spinach. Carrots, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, radish etc etc – almost any vegetable can be tossed into a salad. Experiment with whatever you have in your fridge. Fresh fruits add a great burst of sweetness to any salad, try chopped apples or pears for something mild and crunchy. Fresh berries, orange or grapefruit slices, pineapple, peaches or grapes also make great additions. The most important thing to remember is to focus on colour. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables generally serve up the most vitamins and minerals – so make sure all colours of the rainbow are represented on your plate!
Step 2: Add a carbohydrate. Try to pick whole grains such as brown rice, barley, whole wheat couscous, quinoa or whole wheat pasta – they provide more dietary fibre (roughage) which makes you feel fuller for longer! Don’t forget you can use carbs as a topping too (see step 5!) – toast rice, make home made croutons with olive oil or even popcorn!
Step 3: Add a protein. Protein is a body building food that helps to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. It also slows down digestion, helping to keep you fuller for longer. Include protein in the form of meat, poultry, fish, soy, eggs, nuts, dairy (like cottage cheese) or legumes.
Step 4: Crunch it! Add nuts or seeds or roasted chickpeas (Click here for my recipe: Crispy Roasted Chickpeas) to bump up the fun and interest in the salad. Not only are they good for the added texture, but you also receive a healthy dose of unsaturated fats (good for individuals with high cholesterol).
Step 5: Last but not least, add a flavour boost in the form of salad dressing! If a salad does not taste great, who wants to eat it? If you are worried about drowning your salad, just toss it with a little dressing at a time until well coated. Any excess dressing will pool at the bottom of the dish. Always opt for olive oil based dressings instead of the creamy ones!
Aside from knowing how to build the perfect salad, the main thing that we should keep in mind is meal planning, meal prep and utilizing left overs. Each of these can save you a ton of time during your busy week. Not to mention, if you invest the time to plan and prep all your salads for the week, you take impulse eating off the table and simply eat the healthy alternatives you have already planned, prepped and shopped for.
The bottom line is to try and make your salads as interesting as possible by adding different types of ingredients, flavours and textures. We eat with our eyes as much as we do with our mouths! Instead of throwing ingredients into a bowl, plate them with care, cut them in unique ways and pick lots of colours.
Stay tuned to my Facebook page to see what salad I come up with this weekend!