Spring has arrived and many of us are ready for simple meals that are fresh and require minimal or NO cooking. Salads are the answer!
Boredom does NOT have to happen when it comes to salad meals. Vary what goes into the salad to create unique combinations of veggies and proteins.
Building the Perfect Salad
Start with the Base
Pile any type of lettuce or greens into the salad bowl or platter. Choose only one type of lettuce OR mix several different varieties of lettuce and salad greens together.
Get Creative with Veggie Additions
This is a good time to spring clean the fridge. Gather cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, etc. Wash and drain. Then slice, chop and grate these veggies before adding them to the base. Leftover cooked veggies also taste great in salad so do not overlook those.
Without protein, salad does not count as an actual meal. MANY protein options are perfect for salads. Choose one or a combination of several:
Sliced or chopped leftover cooked chicken or salmon
Canned, drained chickpeas or kidney beans
Drained canned tuna
Sunflower seeds or chopped nuts
Sliced boiled eggs
Deli turkey or ham
Cold, steamed shrimp
Bring on the Fat
Salads are full of nutrients and healthy plant compounds that fight inflammation and disease. Fat must be present in the meal for the body to absorb all of this good stuff. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a few slices of avocado will do the trick. Nuts and sunflower seeds also provide healthy fats (AND are protein – packed). If using salad dressing make certain that it is NOT fat free (and of course do not drown the salad in the dressing!).
Here is a simple and delicious dressing to try making:
Peel and mash one medium ripe avocado into a small mixing bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 clove of minced garlic.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well using a fork or wire whisk.
Add a few drops of water as needed to help thin the dressing.
Continue mixing until well blended.
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Nutritionist, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program