Learn How To Customize Your Salad To Fit Your Tastes and Nutritional Needs
**I am not an expert, if you have any questions regarding your diet, please consult a professional. These are my own opinions formed from my own experiences.**
If you don't get excited about the thought of eating a salad as a meal, I understand. I'm not trying to convince you to become a vegetarian, I am far from that, I want to enlighten you on how to give your body vital nutrients which will improve your skin and overall body by eating the types of salads that will actually benefit you.
This post is a bit longer than my others because I wanted to give you a deeper understanding of why certain ingredients are particularly good for you in hopes of truly inspiring you to adopt a healthier eating habit which will be a huge help in achieving a healthy body, skin and hair!
Here are the "bare bones" of this post (I will go into further detail below)
A good balanced salad (in my opinion) will include most, if not all of the these types of ingredients. They will boost the nutritional value and taste, which, after all, is what makes salads actually enjoyable.
First of all, you should know that not all salads are created equal. Many good-intentioned people make their salads with iceberg lettuce with maybe a slice of tomato, which isn't exactly packed with nutrients. Then they top it off with quite possibly the most unhealthy condiment ever invented: ranch dressing. I know that where I'm from (the Midwest), this dressing is the only reason most people even eat salads. It makes me sad because I know that although they think they are choosing the "healthy option", they'd be better off eating... anything.
Anything is better to eat than iceberg lettuce covered in ranch dressing.
If you eat a salad like this, I know for a fact you'll end up feeling less than satisfied and probably even worse than before.
If you need help with choosing exactly what to include in your salads, I can help! In this post I will explain why salads are a great meal option and how to identify some great vegetables that have lots of flavor and nutrients that your body is CRAVING.
Ok, first I want you to rid yourself of the assumption that salads need to have lots and lots of lettuce. Most lettuce is nothing more than a filler with little to no real nutrients.
Here is a list of worthwhile greens to include in your salad. All of these are packed with nutrients and would be beneficial to add to any meal.
I figure that if I have to eat a vegetable it's because it will do wonders for my body. Giving me results that I need like: great skin, more energy, feeling full longer which helps maintain a healthy body weight.
Eating vegetables raw with the skin on is particularly good because a huge majority of the nutrients are found in the skin, and if you cook them too much you literally cook all of the nutrients out of them. Steaming for a short period of time is the best alternative to raw veggies.
When you eat nutrient-rich food you get full while eating less (WIN/WIN!). This is because your body is actually getting what it needs from the food. It stops your hunger cravings for a longer period of time while giving your body quality food that supplies it with energy to perform better throughout the day.
Here is a list of raw vegetables and the amount that I use in my own salads:
(I cut them into small bitesized pieces so it's easy to get a bit of each veggie in every bite!)
SWEET PEPPERS/BELL PEPPERS: 1/2 PEPPER
AVOCADOS: 1/2 CUBED
CARROTS: 1/2 LARGE CARROT
CUCUMBERS: 1/3 MEDIUM CUCUMBER
TOMATOES: 1 MEDIUM TOMATO
RED ONION: (THINLY SLICED) 1/8 MEDIUM RED ONION
BROCCOLI: 1/4 HEAD OF BROCCOLI
RADISHES: (THINLY SLICED) 1 RADISH
Nuts are a great way to give your salad more nutrients, flavor and variety. Just chop them up so they are easy to eat with a fork ;)
(A healthy handful of any one or combination of nuts)
Seeds are also an easy way to boost the nutrients in your salad. These seeds are all incredibly healthy for you and they are so easy to sprinkle on top of your salad for a new nutty flavor.
(Toasted sesame seeds are my absolute favorite. When you toast them they infuse the whole salad with a deeper flavor.)
The amount to use is completely up to you.
I highly suggest using hemp, chia and flax seeds, they are superfoods that have a massive amount of antioxidants and are the best at fighting free-radicals. You don't have to do anything to them except open the bag and sprinkle a spoonful or two onto the salad. *After you've put on the dressing- that way they stick to the veggies instead of falling to the bottom of the bowl.*
If you aren't sure how to get hemp or chia seeds, there is always amazon.com! There you can find all sorts of healthy foods that are delivered right to your door. I personally buy Manitoba Harvest brand hemp seeds and Nutiva brand chia seeds, both of which are certified organic products.
These are great for adding a punch of flavor. With some zing and a bit of sweetness, berries are great for making your salad something you will love to eat.
Berries that are darker in color are packed with more nutrients. Try adding any of these:
Try using 1/4 cup of any one or combination of these
Using proteins are a great way to add sustenance to your salad and keep you full and provide you with energy much longer. Proteins burn energy more slowly so you won't experience a slump of energy in the middle of the day.
Here are some great ideas for adding eggs or meats to your salad. (These are listed from least to most fatty)
(2 EGGS, SLICED)
MARINATED & GRILLED CHICKEN
(1 BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST)
(1 FILLET- THE GOOD KIND OF FAT :) )
(ANY PIECE ABOUT THE SIZE OF YOUR PALM)
My favorite part! This is probably the easiest way to make your salad much more healthy compared to using store bought dressing. Did you know that to make a basic dressing all you need is 4 ingredients? I'm so excited to share with you how to make your own custom salad dressing to taste however you like!
Ok so all you really need to know to make a salad dressing is that you need an oil as a base, a vinegar or citrus to cut the oil and add flavor, then salt&pepper for seasoning. You can certainly add more things to create a more flavorful dressing but this is the basic idea.
I generally make my dressing each time I make a salad so it's fresh. Here are the amounts of the basic ingredients that I use for one salad, feel free to add in the additional ingredients to suit your own tastes.
Per salad I use:
2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar/citrus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Here are some suggestions of ingredients to use:
(LISTED FROM MOST HEALTHY TO LEAST HEALTHY, EVEN THOUGH ALL OF THESE OPTIONS ARE GREAT FOR YOU.)
WHITE WINE VINEGAR
(DON'T USE BOTTLED LEMON JUICE, IT IS MUCH TOO BITTER AND TASTES NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING)
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR FLAVOR:
- For sweetness
- For a little spicy flavor
- For extra berry goodness
TOASTED SESAME SEEDS
- For an asian style dressing
- For a little spice and asian zing
- For a hawaiian twist that is smooth and sweet
- For a deeper unique flavor
Feel free to mix and match any of these ingredients, you may stumble upon a delicious combination!
If you tried any of these suggestions I would love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment below with what you made and why you enjoyed it, or if you found a surprising combination that turned out delicious!