February is here and since many of you are sending me messages asking for more healthy recipes, I thought of writing a blog post on how we can smartly "build" our salads! What do I mean by that? I mean to learn to make salads which are at the same time tasty, filling, and -of course- very nutritious, without filling us with unnecessary fats or more calories. The truth is that many people get scared when they hear the word salad… The word diet comes to mind and, at the same time, they think that what they will consume is just lettuce or some other vegetable. The point is that a salad can really be a filling and complete meal choice that one can add to his daily meal plan - whether for lunch or dinner - and help him make simply more balanced choices every day. All this, without feeling that he is dieting or that he is deprived of food. The effects of adding many different salads and vegetables to your daily meal plan, I will let you discover for yourself.
So, shall we see how we can build nutritious salads?
1. Add a variety of vegetables.
I guess most of you know that vegetables and salads are very low in calories, while they contain a lot of fibers, vitamins, and minerals. By adding more vegetables to our dish, we manage to add a variety of vitamins, trace elements and antioxidants, thus boosting our immune system. At the same time, we fill up and feel full for longer without consuming too many calories. Each vegetable has different vitamins and minerals, and -for this reason- variety is essential in our daily lives. By adding more color to your plate, you shield your body, while you enjoy your meal even more!
2. Add a fruit!
Fruits, just like vegetables, contain fibers, vitamins and minerals, while they can add a sweet kick to your dish. Which fruits could you add to your salad? Apple, pear, pomegranate, tangerine, orange as well as a variety of berries, depending on when you consume each salad and respecting the seasonality of fruits Therefore, you will -again- manage to increase the consumption of fiber, enhancing the digestion process and making a meal that is even richer in antioxidants, ideal to fill you up and provide you with nutrients!
3. Add proteins from legumes, eggs, or some low-fat cheese.
Ιn order for a salad to be filling enough, it should also contain a source of protein. So, apart from chicken -which I imagine most of you have tried in salads- now you can start adding an egg or some low-fat cheese, like cottage. Of course, a salad with chicken and yogurt is a very nice alternative.
Now, if you belong to the category of people who find it difficult to consume legumes, or to the category of those who love them, this way is a nice solution. That means you can make a salad with red or black lentils, as well as with chickpeas. The fibers and proteins contained in legumes will also make you feel full for longer, and you may notice that such a meal will not make you feel tired or drowsy when you consume it. That is why they are ideal solutions for people who work in offices and consume their meals at work!
4. You can add some cereal or pseudocereal!
Quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, wheat, amaranth, or anything else that suits your mood and you like to consume, are ideal solutions! Cereals can be the slightly more nutritious carb alternative in your salad, instead of bread, pasta, or rusks.
If you do not like the above alternatives, you can try adding sweet potato or pumpkin to your salad. Believe me, their unique flavors and nutrients will make your dish irresistible!
5. Learn how to make a healthier version of dressing!
It is -of course- up to you to make the healthiest version of dressing. You can use vinegar, such as balsamic or apple cider vinegar, a sauce with yogurt and balsamic or mustard. In addition, a dressing of avocado, lemon, lime, as well as beetroot that contain many herbs, can further enhance the taste of the dressing.
Choose the healthiest versions of fats that will offer you many antioxidants and vitamin E. Prefer olive oil or avocado for your salad dressing.
6. Do you have any leftover food from yesterday?
Think about food waste and keep yesterday's food to make it a salad for lunch or dinner the next day. This way, you can save time from cooking, while you will protect the planet and learn not to throw away food.
7. Add seeds or some nuts.
Not only do they contain protein and fiber, but also ''good'' Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are ideal to nutritionally boost your salads and provide you with more satiety and nutrients. Of course, you should not overdo it with the quantities you consume.
I think these ideas will help you change your mind about salads. Make your own unique combinations and I will be waiting for you to send me your creations. Do not forget that getting nutrients from our meals is a very important part of our daily lives!
This article was written in collaboration with the scietific advisor-sports nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr, INDI.
The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.