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Salad: It’s What’s for Lunch
One of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of veggies is to commit to eating a big salad for lunch most days. Salads don’t have to be boring or dainty, but they don’t have to be complicated either. Follow these four steps and you’re on your way to a nutritious, colorful and satisfyingly delicious lunch every day of the week.
Step 1: Pick a Green Base
Generally, the darker the green the healthier it is. There are so many fun organic mixes to choose from in the store and opting for a precut blend saves you time and effort. Spinach, kale, chard and the like are the most nutrient dense, but there’s nothing wrong with iceberg or romaine if you’re in a crunchy and crisp mood. You can also opt for chopped salad mixes that incorporate cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts and more.
Step 2: Add More Color
You’ve got your green base, now it’s time to pile on the color. Most adults should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but research shows getting in ten servings can mean big things for longevity and health. Add at least two or three extra veggies, such as organic grape tomatoes, diced organic cucumber, chopped organic celery or sliced organic radishes. An easy and flavorful trick is to add roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. Make a big batch on the weekends or use leftovers from dinner the night before.
Step 3: Choose a Protein
To elevate your salad from appetizer to entrée status, you need a protein to help keep you satisfied. Leftover chicken or steak, canned tuna or salmon, or hard boiled eggs are go-to options if you like a little meat. For vegetarian protein sources, try quinoa, beans, hummus, seeds, chickpeas or lentils. Remember, a serving of animal protein is about the size of a smart phone; for vegetarian sources the standard is half a cup.
Step 4: Dress it Up with Healthy Fat
Adding some healthy fat to your salad will help bring flavor, promote satiety, and aid in absorption of all the nutrients in those vegetables. Olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice or splash of vinegar is the simplest way to go, but there are plenty of wholesome organic dressing options available in the store. Pick a dressing with simple ingredients and that bears the USDA Organic Seal, and stick to just about one tablespoon of dressing. Another tasty idea is to dress it up with avocado. This creamy fruit will add nutrients and fiber. If you opt for avocado, go a little light on the full fat dressing.