It’s a salad not rocket science, why do I need to build it?
It sounds a little strange to think that you are building a salad. I mean isn’t it just tossing a bunch of lettuce with some dressing and being done with it? Tossing everything together and hoping that whatever was thrown into the bowl provides you with all the protein, carbohydrates and fats you need at that meal. On top of not being sure if your salad is properly balanced depending on what is being added to that salad bowl you can easily become a little heavy handed with certain ingredients creating something that ends up being not so great for you in the end.
In order to avoid creating imbalanced, high caloric and unsatisfying salads here are five (5) simple tips to make sure your salad is not only delicious be providing you with all the fuel you need to keep your energy levels up and blood sugars balanced for your day.
5 Tips for a Better Salad
Tip 1: Don’t shy away from carbohydrates:
Now remember the macronutrient carbohydrate is a pretty broad category including all vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains which means carbohydrates are the base of any good salad so now it becomes more about which ones you pick to get the best energy pump.
Tip 2: It’s all about variety:
When making salads we often fall into ruts, picking the same mix of greens, the same cucumber and carrots and the same old dressing. Instead of eating the same salad day in and day out challenge yourself to eat a wide variety of colours both dark and light.
A simple rule is that the more colourful the vegetable the more it has to offer you. For example when making a salad using spinach will provide your body with seven times the amount of vitamin C that the equivalent in iceberg lettuce would. An exception to the darker/brighter rule is cauliflower yes it is white so not technically a colour but cauliflower is a powerhouse when it comes vitamin C and being from the cruciferous vegetable family makes it a powerful cancer-fighting food.
Tip 3: Think about the nutrients your body needs:
When it comes to building a salad we don’t often take the time to think of why we are adding something to the mix aside from it tastes delicious, and yes flavour is a top priority but so are our minerals. One mineral that is of particular interest is potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte which is readily lost in our sweat, which means it is the first to go, the more you sweat the more potassium you need. Being an electrolyte means that your potassium levels will directly influence your energy levels, ability to recover from a workout and quality of your sleep. To help your body to be adequately hydrated be sure to add in some potassium rich fruits/vegetables such as romaine lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots.
Tip 4: Include Adequate Protein:
Protein is important for all and especially for active individuals. Protein helps your muscles to repair from everything from day to day activity to strenuous athletic training and ensuring you get appropriate amounts through the day will help to support a strong healthy body. In addition to helping your body to function at peak levels protein is also highly satiating and requires longer digestive times, which means you will feel full and satisfied quicker and longer. A salad with inadequate amounts of protein won’t fill your belly.
Adding at least one to two palm size of lean meat, poultry or fish is the simplest way to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of protein however you don’t need to eat meat in order to get your protein. If you are abstaining from meat or lowering the amount you eat reach from some chickpeas, black beans, lentils, edamame, tofu, and/or quinoa.
Tip 5: Don’t forget about the fat:
Yes, your salad should definitely have some fat in it. Like protein fat is a satiater and is calorically dense, which means better packaged energy. Fats assist your body in regulating hormones and ensuring cellular integrity. That being said you still want to be mindful of the types and quantities of fat you are using in your salad. Relying on heart healthy fats such as homemade olive oil salad dressings, whole olives, nuts, seeds and avocado will help to round out your salad and have you feeling satisfied.
My name is Brittany, I am a Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher and Certified Personal trainer. My hope is to help inspire, encourage and motivate others to live their happiest and healthiest lives.