When the weather gets hot, we are more likely to opt for a crisp refreshing salad for lunch or dinner– but that big bowl of leafy greens won’t fill us up for long. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to upgrade your summer salad! With a little effort and creativity you can take a simple bed of greens, combine different flavours, textures, and colours, and transform it into a culinary masterpiece. Here are 5 tips:
1. BRIGHTEN YOUR PLATE
Go beyond lettuce! More colour means more nutrition without a lot of extra calories – a welcome bonus. Swap some of your leafy greens with pickled or grated beets, spiralized sweet potato or zucchini, or shredded purple cabbage. For additional colour – toss in a few orange or grapefruit segments, blueberries, fresh apricot, raspberries, avocado, pomegranate seeds and more. Try to eat a variety of whole foods from every colour category, every day.
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2. ADD SOME CRUNCH
Top your salad with some toasted nuts, roasted chickpeas, seeds or soy nuts. Raw nuts and seeds and fresh pulses work well too and both are a great way to incorporate more fibre into your diet! Pulses are absolutely ripe with nutritional benefits. What is a “pulse”? Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are common varieties of pulses. They are a low fat, high fiber, low glycemic index, gluten free source of vegetarian protein that supports heart health, weight management efforts, cholesterol lowering, gut health and glucose management. Not to mention they also deliver significant amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium which are all blood pressure friendly nutrients. Click here to join the Micronutrient challenge.
3. MAKE YOUR OWN VINAIGRETTES
Have a couple of go-to vinaigrette recipes on hand. It’s a great way to incorporate heart-healthy fats in your diet such as safflower or olive oil, nuts and avocados. Plus, making your own dressing helps avoid consuming added sugars and sodium found in many commercial dressings. Use a food processor to blend up your dressings quickly and easily store leftovers in the fridge! Kick things up a notch and give your immune system a boost by adding in antioxidant and flavor-rich spices such as cumin, turmeric, coriander and smoked paprika.
You can also perk up your dressing with the following unique twists:
• Add nutritional yeast for a wonderful savory flavor, often described as cheesy, nutty and/or tangy.
• Add a tangy element to your dressing with lemon zest and/or citrus juices.
• Use a chili-flavoured extra virgin olive oil to add a kick.
• Invest in a nice aged balsamic and transform your salads altogether.
Flavour counts – the quality of your salad dressing can make or break your salad. If you make too much dressing save the leftovers for later – or use it on meats or vegetable side dishes.
4. TRY SOMETHING NEW!
Experiment with add-ins. When making your salad try tossing in some roasted or shaved Brussels sprouts, steamed bok choy, artichoke hearts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or edamame. If you like sushi, try experimenting with nori. Nori is an edible plant with a crispy texture, and can give a salad a salty kick without the shaker! Crumble nori over your salad and enjoy.
5. DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR LEFTOVERS FOR ADDED PROTEIN
Toss leftover protein into your salads for a healthy brown bag lunch! Examples include taco spiced ground turkey, pesto chicken, beef teriyaki, grilled salmon, bean salad or hard boiled eggs.
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