Tips to Make a Healthy (And Filling!) Salad
By Sara Butler
The word salad may conjure some uninspiring thoughts in your mind. After all, when you order a side salad it's usually a few leaves of possibly wilted lettuce with a tomato thrown in -- if you're lucky. Even still, some salads you order in a restaurant can have more calories than a double bacon burger with cheese. To say there's uncertainty surrounding the world of salads is an understatement, but there are a few things you can do to turn a salad into a satisfying and healthy meal. Here are a few tips to help you build the perfect salad.
Choose the Base Wisely
The base can add a lot to your salad if you choose something beyond iceberg. Consider spinach, romaine, kale, arugula, or a mixture of several different types to add more nutrients to your plate. These leafy greens add crucial vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber to your meal. And remember, the darker the green, the more nutritious it will be. If you have salads several times per week, then it's not a bad idea to rotate the greens you use as a base, either, to provide a little variety.
Go Crazy on Vegetables
Adding vegetables is where you can really take your salad up a notch nutritionally and in the taste department. In general, one cup of cut vegetables adds about 25 calories, so choose three or four vegetables of various colors to top your salad. Try to emulate a rainbow and think of carrots, peppers, and cucumbers as great topping choices.
Pick a Protein
If you want your salad to have some real staying power, then you need to choose a tasty protein beyond bacon bits to add to your salad. Eggs, grilled chicken, tofu, beans, beef, lentils, quinoa, or shrimp make great choices that will help you to feel fuller for longer. Add around 3 ounces of meat or 3/4 of a cup of lentils or beans to give it some serious staying power.
Be Careful With Add-ons
This is where you can really go wrong with a salad and create a calorie-bomb. You can certainly add on cheese, croutons, seeds, and nuts to your salad, but be careful when choosing how much. You can add more than 200 calories with 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds and over 100 calories with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, so be careful with how much you add.
This is another easy way to sabotage the perfect salad, so try to stay away from creamy dressings and stick with vinegar and olive oil or a vinegar-based salad dressing. Opt for non-creamy options when you can to keep your salad healthy.
You salad can be a nutritional powerhouse that leaves you satisfied if you know where to start!
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