When the weather gets hot, we tend to reach for salads as a good meal option to cool down. However it can be hard to stay full off simply eating fruits and veggies. 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 that both delights family and friends and nourishes your body.
Here’s how to get started!
Brighten your plate
Go beyond the lettuce! More color means more nutrition – without a lot of extra calories (an added bonus). Have fun tossing on pickled or grated beets, spiralized sweet potato or zucchini, purple cabbage, mandarin oranges, blueberries, raspberries, avocado, pomegranate seeds and more.
Add some crunch
Top a salad with some toasted nuts, roasted chickpeas or soy nuts. Raw nuts and fresh pulses work well too and both are a great way to incorporate fibre into your diet! Pulses are absolutely ripe with nutritional benefits. They are a low fat, high fiber, low glycemic, 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.
Make your own vinaigrettes
Have a couple of go-to vinaigrette recipes on hand. It’s a great way to incorporate heart-healthy fats such as safflower or olive oil, nuts and avocados. Plus, it helps to avoid some added sugars and sodium found in many commercial dressings. Use a magic bullet to blend up your dressings quickly and easily store leftovers! Spice dressings up and give a boost to your immune system by adding in some antioxidant and flavor-rich cumin, turmeric, coriander and/or smoked paprika.
You can also perk up your dressing with a few 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. Flavor counts and the dressing can make or break your salad success. If you make too much, you can always save some for later – leftovers can be used on meats or side vegetables for flavour!
Try something new!
Toss in some roasted or shaved Brussels sprouts, steamed bok choy, artichoke hearts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or freeze-dried edamame. Don’t be afraid to experiment with add-ins. For example, have you heard of Nori? Nori is an edible plant with a crispy texture, and can give a salad a salty kick without the shaker! Crumble it over your salad and enjoy.
Don’t forget about your leftovers
Toss leftover protein into your salads for a healthy brown bag lunch! Examples include taco spiced ground turkey, pesto chicken, beef teriyaki, maple soy salmon, bean salad or hard boiled eggs.