How to Create the Perfect Salad

Salads are quick, tasty, and a simple way to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  However, not all salads are created equal and it can sometimes be difficult to eat a salad that is both healthy and tasty.  For instance, some chicken Caesar salads pack on as many calories as two cheeseburgers but a low calorie salad with dull lettuce and fat free dressing is often boring and bland.

To create a salad that is completely guilt-free and full of flavor I follow this 5-step plan:

Step 1: Start with a Generous Base of Green Leafy Veggies

Generally speaking the darker the leaf the more nutrients it contains.  However if you just stay away from iceberg lettuce you should be good to go.  Arugula, romaine lettuce, spinach, and rocket are all excellent choices and some of my personal favorites.  Aim for no less than 2 cups of green leafy vegetables.

Step 2: Splash on Some Color

Toss in some chopped fruits and vegetables for taste, texture, and an added nutritional punch.  An array of red, orange, yellow, purple, and green fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of powerful nutrients that rejuvenate, heal, and keep us looking young.  Choose one or two different fruits and vegetables per salad.  Some popular choices are tomatoes, apples, cucumber, citrus slices, broccoli, mushrooms, artichokes, berries, peppers and carrots.

Step 3: Add a Little More Protein

A little protein will keep you satisfied, but not drained.  Enjoy 2 tablespoons or about a golf-ball size portion of lean protein.  Sunflower seeds, almonds, garbanzo beans, black beans, peas, lentils, salmon, hard-boiled eggs, and free-range grilled chicken are some excellent choices.

Step 4: Flavor with Fat

A little fat goes a long way in terms of flavor and helps to keep you feeling full longer.  Plus fat is needed for the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins, important for a healthy body and skin.  Some excellent choices include nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.  Add in a little more than a quarter size amount of these healthy fats.

Step 5: Dress for Success

For the final touch, drizzle in some dressing.  Opt for vinaigrette over a creamy dressing for less calories and stay away from fat free versions loaded with sugar.  Making your own dressing is also easier than you might think.  Try whisking together 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, balsamic) or lemon juice, throw in some fresh or dried herbs and you have a gourmet salad dressing in minutes.  If you like creamy dressing then try my creamy cilantro dressing.

Have a great day!



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