When most people set their sights on a healthier diet, their first reaction is to substitute salad for a meal. Yes, when given the option between a greasy, delicious slice of pizza and a hearty salad with a nice vinaigrette dressing, the healthier option is quite clear. However, not everything in a salad is actually beneficial to your health. Some of the vegetables, especially cucumbers, celery and iceberg lettuce, don’t have nearly enough nutrients in them to sustain you for a long period of time because they consist mainly of water. In order to get the most out of your salad, here’s a base to build your very own super-salad.
Every good salad needs a lettuce base, and these leaves are your best choice. Spinach leaves are chock full of nutrients such as Vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting, and Vitamin A, which helps in maintaining healthy skin, and they have much less water than their iceberg counterparts meaning the nutrients can take the place of the water and actually energize you.
If you love peppers like I do, these are a must. I picked red peppers over their green and yellow brethren because according to a comparison done by “World’s Healthiest Foods,” red peppers have ten times the amount of Vitamin A and nearly double the amount of beta carotene, a carotenoid that also provides us with Vitamin A, making them the best option of the three.
As a child, I ate carrots religiously, hoping they would stunt the deterioration of my eyesight. Though they unfortunately did nothing to prevent me from losing my 20/20 vision, carrots do have high levels of Vitamin A, like many of the other vegetables listed, making them a perfect fit.
This may not apply to you vegetarians out there, so as a substitute I suggest tofu instead of chicken. A lot of people who eat salads don’t end up getting enough protein, so an easy fix would be to just add chicken to the salad.
I am a huge fan of quinoa. In addition to using it as a cooking substitute, I love putting it in salads, especially salads with spinach leaves. Naturally high in iron and calcium, it’s another wonderful source of protein for those of you who really cannot stand meat and can’t wrap your heads around tofu.
If you must, use a low fat dressing to dress your salad. Personally, I don’t care for dressing, but what a lot of people don’t know is that many popular salad dressings, such as blue cheese and thousand island, have a very high fat content.