I am one of those people who really love to eat fresh salads for lunch. I actually do enjoy healthy food…however I also love the bad stuff! One of the best tips I’ve heard – make your salad vibrant in color. I wanted to share with you the ingredients for my go-to salad for the work week:
I start with the Olivia’s Organics Spring Mix. It is great to buy all organic vegetables however it can be very expensive. I do try to make sure at least the spring mix I buy is organic since it is the bulk of the salad. I choose the spring mix (or sometimes the 50/50 with spinach) since it is the richest in nutrients. Always remember – the darker green, the better!
I always slice up at least one type of bell pepper – usually a red pepper (organic if possible). I also like the flavor of the orange and yellow peppers and they definitely add some color to the meal.
Red bell peppers are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, and minerals. Some of the other key nutritional benefits:
- Vitamin A: preserves eyesight, fights infections
- Beta-carotene: protects against types of cancers, including breast cancer
- Lycopene: reduces your risk of ovarian cancer
- Vitamin C: reduces your risk of types of cancers
I like to toss in some cherry or grape tomatoes. Tomatoes are also nutrient-rich and full of lycopene. If you hate tomatoes, a bell red pepper is a good alternative since it contains powerful lycopene.
Avocado is one of my favorite fruits! I slice up half (sometimes more!) and mix it in with my greens. There are about 230 calories in one whole avocado so you need to be careful when eating it with other foods that may be high calorie as well. However, avocado is a heart-healthy unsaturated fat and helps make the salad more filling. Adding an avocado to your salad has additional perks – research shows antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene (think your tomatoes and/or red peppers) are better absorbed with the consumption of healthy fat (avocado).
In order to stay full, I need protein in my salad. I like to add plain grilled or baked chicken (or lightly seasoned with basil and lemon juice). I recommend buying some boneless chicken breasts and baking or grilling Sunday night. You can then easily slice it up and use it in your salad for the next couple of days. Hate chicken? Try some nitrate-free and low sodium turkey or cooked egg.
Sometimes I like to add 4 or 5 olives. I think the combined flavors of the chicken, avocado and olives is amazing! Olives are a great source of antioxidants and they have other health benefits. They are typically high in sodium though – so make sure you eat them in moderation!
In terms of ‘dressing’, I usually squeeze some lemon juice and I’m good to go! The avocado adds a lot of flavor and in my opinion, it kind of becomes the ‘dressing’!
What are your favorite salads? Any other healthy salad toppings you love?