by Nutritional Chef Julie Magnussen; Guest Nutritionist and Certified Health Coach
Summer is definitely the season for fresh and crisp salads.
What I absolutely LOVE about salads is that most (if not all) of the ingredients are made up of real, unprocessed foods!
Salads give you the opportunity to flood your system with nutrients and fiber keeping your body functioning at its optimal level and appetite in homeostasis.
But I’m not talking about salads with a few leafy greens tossed with some foreign dressing.
To me, salads are essentially a mixed assortment of ingredients, usually cut up, and mixed with a dressing.
That means there are virtually endless possibilities to the variations you can come up with. It’s also a great way to fill up on good-for-you ingredients while indulging in some of your favorites like cheese or crispy fried onions.
Consuming the foods that are tough on your digestive tract with foods that are full of enzymes make it easier for your body to assimilate nutrients and get rid of the toxins.
In short, salads keep me balanced, non-deprived, and happy.
To celebrate the diversity of salads I want to offer you an intuitive outline to building your own salad for your particular needs and cravings.
How to Build a Nourishing Salad
Here is a step-by-step approach:
Start with your Base
Salads need a strong foundation in which other ingredients work around.
Start with light or hearty greens, root vegetables, grains, seeds, beans, or fruits.
Add a Protein
This is optional but adding high protein foods may help decrease your cravings later in the day.
My top animal protein choices are: Salmon, shrimp, grass-finished organic chicken, egg, and meats.
My top plant protein choices are: quinoa, hemp, sacha inchi powder, lentils, chickpeas, and organic edamame.
Pick a Starch
Again this is optional and many foods overlap these categories. Lentils and quinoa, for example, are great sources of protein and starch.
Other favorites includes sweet potato, beets, jicama, and wild rice.
Sweeten it up with Fruit
Adding a hit of berries, orange segments, or pomegranate seeds really add and extra oomph of flavor along with bright and colorful aesthetics (remember we eat with our eyes first!).
It’s also a great chance for you to get a variety of nutrients because nutrients manifest themselves through color!
So, the more colors you consume, the more variety of nutrients you’re feeding your body.
Add a Healthy Fat
You may incorporate your healthy fat in part of your dressing (think avocado oil, walnut oil, olive oil) or as a delicious creamy garnish like fresh avocado.
I also love adding nuts to my salads. Eating heart healthy fat with your greens enhances your body’s ability to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in them.
This may be everyone’s favorite part of the salad.
The flavor and texture that coats all of the mixed assortment of ingredients really pulls everything together.
Choosing the right dressing depends on the ingredients piled together.
Texture is key here. You don’t want to use a heavy cream-based dressing on light and fluffy greens.
You also want to be aware of the flavors of your ingredients. If you’re using peppery arugula, pairing it with a spicy dressing will be overwhelming. Be sure to complement and balance the flavors.
Extras and Crunch
This is where you can toss in any extras that seal the deal. Toss in some edible flowers, refreshing mint, nutrient dense sprouts, or toasted hazelnuts.
Always add these after you’ve tossed your salad with the dressing to ensure the overall product is crunchy and fresh.
Ready for some awesome salad recipes?
I have 3 healthy and nourishing summer salad recipes you’ll love!