If you take one look at the “Salads” section of my recipes tab, you’ll see that I eat a lot of salad. In fact, I try to eat one for lunch every day as an easy way of including plenty of veggies into my day. As I was assembling today’s salad, I realized that it was a pretty good representation of what a nutritious salad should include.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
- Veggies. As you can see, the foundation of the salad is vegetables. The green beans and tomatoes (along with the Romaine lettuce hiding underneath) collectively provide about 6 grams of fiber, or about 20% of what you need in a day. (The potato also adds some fiber, if you leave the skin on). You get bonus points for bright-colored vegetables, as those vibrant hues generally indicate a high antioxidant content. Tomatoes, for example, contain lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene (all carotenoids that act as antioxidants).
- Lean protein. While fiber can provide some satiety, protein is a great way make sure your salad has some staying power. For this salad, I chose wild Alaskan salmon from a can, which offers a lot of protein for your “Calorie buck,” so to speak. That is, there are a whopping13 grams of protein and just 60 Calories per 3-ounce serving. I used more than 3 ounces here, but the principle is the same.
- Starch. I like to round out my salads with a bit of starch, which in this case is represented by half of a small baked potato. Yes, I know that potatoes are technically vegetables. But they’re quite rich in starch like grains, so I treat them as such in my diet; potatoes are also classified as a starch in diabetic exchange lists.
- Fat + flavor. Fat is necessary for absorbing many of the nutrients in this salad: specifically the vitamin A and vitamin K (both present in high amounts in the romaine lettuce and tomatoes). Fat is also a flavor enhancer, which is often necessary for eating a pile of vegetables. I used an olive oil-based vinaigrette and a small amount of feta cheese to add fat to this salad. You could also use nuts and seeds to achieve the same purpose.
Wow. Did I really just write that much about a salad?! I think I’m going into the right profession…
What kinds of things do you like to put on your salads? What’s your favorite combination?