Healthy eating gets a bad rep. Between no carb myths and vegan trends and fake sugar substitutes, it seems like by trying to be healthy, you’re actually torturing yourself. My advice is to take each of these crazes down about 5 notches, then tackle them for only one meal a day or even just every other day. One easy way to get on track with some good eats is by introducing salads to your diet. I know you’re thinking, how can salads be eaten all the time? They’re all basically water and what can be tasty without fried chicken or ranch?
A lot, that’s what! The key to making salads delicious is to listen to your cravings. Anyone could force themselves to have lettuce with some cucumbers or broccoli but what’s the point of living longer if you hate the food you’re eating to stay alive?
Here are a few tips and recipes to help you enjoy finishing your vegetables:
Buy what you like
Crazy idea right? But if you’re favorite vegetable is corn, get an ear, cook it up, remove the kernels over your green leaf of choice and voilà! Salad! Don’t stop at veggies though; strawberries, blueberries, and grapes make wonderful additions too.
Switch out your toppings and dressings
If you eat the same thing everyday, you’re going to get sick of it. After you’ve used up your corn supply, try out mushrooms or an assortment of colored peppers instead. By trying more things you will find more ingredients you like. Try to avoid the cream based dressings; they contain more calories and defeat the purpose of trying to eat healthier. Think clear liquids or oil base
Combine the veggies with proteins
As we have said, a lot vegetables contain water, and water is not what keeps us full. That’s where protein comes in. Cook up a burger or chicken or tofu, cut it into bite size pieces, and toss it into your salad. Any type of nut is another source of protein and provides a nice crunch to your bites. Now you won’t need a snack around 3pm.
Buy multiple leafy greens
Kale, spinach, arugula, oh my! There is more to this world than iceberg lettuce and it tastes really good I swear. Speaking as a girl who makes a salad each day for lunch, mixing more than one base will make each bite taste different even when that forkful doesn’t have a topping.
Don’t buy in bulk
What sucks about fresh veggies is that they don’t stay fresh for very long. Although it’s cheaper to buy huge bags of spinach or a full vine tomatoes, try to avoid that. They will lose their taste and start to spoil and you’ll waste more money in the long run by throwing ingredients away.
Now that you’ve got the bases on how covered, here are a couple of recipes from some of my favorite salads that you can make at home:
Though this salad, when ordered out, does come in a bowl sized taco shell, it can be enjoyed with fewer calories involved than your typical Taco Tuesday meals. Iceberg lettuce topped with piles of tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado, beans, and your choice of chicken or beef give you protein so that you are full and have eaten more than your share of fresh greens. And if you really want that crunch of taco, get a bag of chips and add a dollop of sour cream on top instead of dressing, mix it all in and use the chips as utensils!
Those purple circles that you refused to eat as a kid really aren’t that bad. They have a subtle taste and aren’t too heavy in your stomach so you won’t feel that overstuffed bloating after eating. The juices they are marinated in absorb into the other salad ingredients so you can use less dressing, and we all know dressing is where the oils and fats comes in. My favorite greens to use with beets are arugula and kale because they have more flavor to highlight the soft taste of the beets. Add mushrooms or walnuts for protein, and some goat cheese like they do at the fancy salad bars.
This is so simple they give it out for free with almost any entrée at restaurants. Use leafy greens of your choice, cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper, croutons, and a simple vinaigrette. You can’t go wrong with this classic. If you have left over veggies, these are great cut up and used as a snack. With a crunch in each bite they can quickly replace your chip addiction.
Now that warm weather is here, we want to wear less and avoid putting hot foods in our mouths. This is when salads are the perfect solution! Although I believe healthy habits should be maintained year round, spring and summer have people eating better to get that body in shape and to avoid having to heat the kitchen by cooking. What better way to be full and stay cool than with a refreshing bowl of brightly colored fruits and veggies?
Featured image via Healthy fitness meals