Sometimes after a hard workout or a week of eating like a broke college student, you can get a burst of inspiration and want to have something healthy and nutritious. Usually the first idea your brain jumps to is a salad. But, are salads actually healthy? There are some salads that have dark, leafy greens, like a spinach salad, and others have creamy dressings with croutons, like a caesar salad. To most people, the latter definitely tastes better, but is it as good for you? Here are a few things to keep in mind when making or ordering a salad to ensure you get the health benefits your body needs.
The lettuce is the foundation of the salad and in order to have a healthy salad, you need to have a solid foundation. Dark, leafy greens are the best choice because they supply the most nutrients. Some examples are:
5. Spring Mix
These leafy greens are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You want to steer clear from iceberg lettuce because it doesn’t have any nutritional value, and it is made up of approximately 95% water.
I’m sure you have heard that veggies are very important to have in your diet, but they are especially important to add into your salad. Using the right combination can add some awesome flavor as well as some vital health benefits like: reducing risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. My general rule is pick 3 veggies that blend well together for your personal taste! Some of my favorites are:
1. Onion, tomato, cucumber
2. Cauliflower, diced celery, and shredded carrots
3. Bell peppers, corn, and olives
Protein is super important to add into a salad to ensure it is filling and gives you the energy boost you need. The classic grilled chicken is always a go-to, but any lean white meat will add the protein your body craves. One of my favorite summertime treats is grilled shrimp with squeezed lemon! It adds a nice citrus flavor and has a lighter feel.
For all of the vegetarians out there looking for some protein add-ins here is what I recommend
3. Pieces of egg
5. White beans
No creamy dressings. I repeat, no creamy dressings. I completely understand that a salad without a little bit of dressing can be too bland, but this is where a lot of salads take the turn from healthy to loaded with bad fats. The best thing to do is to make your own! Mix some oil and vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette with some spices like garlic or a pinch of sea salt! If you do choose to use a store bought dressing, make sure you look at the fat content and the ingredients on the nutrition label. Some tend to hold a long list of preservatives, which are not good for your system.
If you are looking to be extra healthy or just add some fun things into your salad to make it look more colorful, try adding some of these things to top your dish off.
6. Cut up apples
7. Mandarin oranges
Salads are a quick meal to make and they are easy to cater to your personal taste. Now you can ensure that your body is getting the most out of your simple meal.
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