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Build a Better Salad

Build a Better Salad

Gone are the days of boring salads consisting of iceberg lettuce and sugar-laden dressings. Building a delicious salad with staying power is totally feasible and can help keep you healthy and energized. Packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals – its the perfect, balanced meal! Here's your how-to to guide to salad-making.

salad with fruit

Leafy Greens: 2 cups

Some favorites: kale, spinach, arugula, romaine

Leafy greens are the foundation to any salad. Forgo your iceberg lettuce devoid of valuable vitamins and minerals for dark leafy greens (the darker, the better!). Leafy greens are brimming with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help lower cholesterol levels and keep our digestion running smoothly.

Seasonal Veggies: 1 cup

Fall vegetables: winter squash, brussels sprouts, turnips

Winter vegetables: carrots, parsnips, onion

Spring vegetables: asparagus, cabbage, broccoli

Summer vegetables: cucumber, mushrooms, eggplant

Add unique textures and flavors to spice up your salad and make it fun to eat. Veggies, in general, are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Opt for seasonal produce. Not only is it more affordable and readily available, it is associated with higher nutrition and better flavor. They don't need to be raw! I love tossing roasted veggies like brussels sprouts or squash to my salads in the fall and winter months.

Protein: 3-4 ounces

Animal proteins: chicken, grass-fed beef, eggs, wild tuna, salmon

Plant proteins: lentils, chickpeas, black beans

Protein adds staying power to our salad and is beneficial for weight management because of its satiating effects. Animal proteins contain beneficial nutrients like iron and zinc in their most bioavailable form, meaning that we can readily digest, absorb and utilize them. Cold-water fish like salmon or sardines contain essential omega-3 fats, which support brain and heart health. Fish, meat and eggs are considered complete proteins meaning that they contain all the essential amino acids, or protein building blocks, that we must get from food. If you choose to forgo animal protein, opt for high-protein plant foods like legumes. Legumes contain a combination of protein and carbohydrates, ample fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Whole Grains: 1/3 - 1/2 cup

Whole grains: quinoa, barley, brown rice, farro, amaranth, oats

Tossing in a serving of whole grains can add staying power to your salad and additional textures. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, B vitamins and even some protein. B vitamins aid metabolism and support hair, skin and nails. Some whole grains like quinoa and barley are considered complete sources.

Fruit: 1/4 - 1/2 cup

Fall fruit: apples, pears, raspberries

Winter fruit: apples, lemons, oranges

Spring fruit: strawberries, apricots, pineapple

Summer fruit: blueberries, blackberries, cherries

Seasonal fruit adds a touch of sweetness along with a slew of vitamins and minerals. This includes potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which we convert to vitamin A (important for skin and vision). Opt for in-season produce for the best taste and nutrition. Rotating your fruit with the seasons is a good way to ensure you are getting a range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Healthy Fat Source: 1-2 tablespoons

Dressings: extra virgin olive oil, tahini

Other healthy fats: avocado, nuts and seeds, olives

Forgo store-bought salad dressings, which are often sugar-laden and packed with fillers. Instead, make your own at home using ingredients on hand. Healthy fats are important to pair with your salads. Many of the nutrients found in vegetables are fat-soluble meaning that they need a fat source to best be utilized and absorbed by the body. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic will do the trick or a lemon tahini dressing. Adding some fresh avocado slices will add creaminess to your salad while nuts and seeds can add crunch. Healthy fats are important for skin, hair, cushioning vital organs and producing hormones.

salad with veggies 

 



Mia Syn
Mia Syn

Infused with the youthful spirit of popular blogger and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD), Mia Syn, Nutrition By Mia features simple healthy recipes, the latest evidence-based nutrition information and effortless entertaining ideas for every occasion. As one of the most recognized and trusted young dietitians in the media, her content serves as a healthy lifestyle resource for millions of television viewers and readers around the globe.