Thanks to my friend Jennifer over at the award-winning blog, Pen and Prosper, I found out that May is National Salad month. Embarking on a journey toward healthier eating recently, the timing is perfect! My new eating plan is focused on fresh foods which means plenty of fruits and vegetables. And salads. Once upon a time, I thought of salads as lettuce (iceberg no doubt), tomato and salad dressing. Though we may think of salads as a healthy alternatives, not all salads are equal. Some salads are so loaded down with fatty ingredients, that you might as well eat a cheeseburger.
Over the last year or so, I’ve learned to appreciate a good salad. One of my favorites is the cucumber, avocado and tomato salad pictured. I’ve learned how to toss together a great salad. Listed below are five things to keep in mind to create a tasty, healthy alternative to the traditional lettuce and tomato salad.
1. Ditch the iceberg. Go for the darker greens—spinach, kale, romaine or mixed greens. Not only do the darker greens have more nutritional value, they actually have more flavor. So, try a new brand of lettuce and spruce up your salad.
2. Use dressing sparingly. One thing I learned is to use a fork instead of a spoon to add dressing to a salad. Most salad dressings are high in fat. Using less dressing cuts down on fat and it also allows you to taste the vegetables in the salad. I love oil and vinegar dressings!
3. Add protein. Beans add fiber and fill you up faster. Grilled chicken, salmon or tuna are also good sources of low calorie protein. You can also add nuts or seeds to provide protein as well.
4. Add fruit. Cut up fruit and add just the right amount of sweetness to your salad. A fruit salad can also serve as a dessert to satisfy even the most finicky of eaters craving something sweet.
5. Try a variety of vegetables. Mix it up. A salad is not required to have lettuce and/or tomatoes. As previously mentioned, one of my all time favorite salads is made up of mostly of cucumber, avocado and tomato. It’s tossed in an olive oil, and lemon dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I add chick peas or toss it on olive oil and lime juice.
The sky is the limit with salads. There are websites with recipes and videos with step-by-step directions. Salads are easy to make, good for you and good to eat. You can’t go wrong with a good salad.