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Super Summer Salads

With the opportunity to work in multiple vegetables, proteins and good fats, salads are a perfect mainstay for the Healthy Way of Eating. Yet, many of my clients get frustrated with the same salad routines for lunch or dinner each day. Given all the endless combinations a little creativity can inspire, there's no need to get stuck in a salad rut! Take your salad creations to the next level with a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients with a few suggestions (and photos!) below. They'll have you looking forward to tomorrow's lunch! 

Selecting the Basics   

Have you ever eaten a salad that filled a basketball-sized bowl and felt hungry an hour later? Chances are it was missing some key nutritional components. I’ll call these your salad foundation, and it’s your foundational ingredients that will make or break a salad in terms of whether it’s nutritious and filling. Your salad should be full of fiber from a variety of vegetables, high in protein, and topped with healthy fat.

Take a basic spinach salad with grilled chicken and a vinaigrette dressing. While this may seem simple at first glance, it actually hosts all of the nutrients you’re looking for. You get tons of protein from the chicken, adequate fiber from the spinach, and healthy fats from the oil in the dressing. Score! How easy was that? To add variety, swap out different types of lettuce, vegetables, proteins, and dressing options. Not a fan of dressing? Use nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese, egg, flavored healthy oils or bacon bits for alternative healthy fat options.   

Adding Variety

Now that you know the most important components when building your salad, you can unleash your creativity and come up with dozens of salad variations to avoid boredom. This will make your salads fun, colorful, and exciting. Go for different flavors and textures to tantalize your taste buds and to create a more satisfying meal. When eating at restaurants, choose salads with vinaigrette-based dressings (on the side). Order them without calorie- and carbohydrate-filled toppings that you don’t need (croutons, dried fruit, fried tortilla strips, fried chicken, etc), and request extra protein if desired. Remember, your salad should look like a rainbow and have something creamy, crunchy, and chewy. Let’s look at some fun salad options.

Cobb Salad with Turkey/Ham, Cucumber, Tomato, Feta, and Yogurt Based Dressing

Caprese Salad

Romaine Lettuce with Grilled Chicken, Yogurt-based Honey Dijon Dressing (and an additional side of cottage cheese and blueberries)

Layered Salads (party pleasers)

Egg Salad

Taco Salad

Quinoa Salad with Chicken and Vegetables Tossed with Oil and Lemon Juice

Tuna/Chicken Salad on a Bed of Lettuce

Mixed Greens with Chicken Breast, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mixed Green Salad with Apple Slices and Olive Oil Balsamic Vinaigrette (Paired with Chicken Breast or other Protein)

Romaine Lettuce with Pre-cooked Grilled Chicken Strips and Yogurt-Based Blue Cheese

Not-So-Pasta Salad with Veggies and Chicken

Asian Cucumber Salad (in addition to chicken stir fry)       

Ceviche (fish and vegetables cured in acidic lemon or lime juice)

Roasted Vegetable Salads (as an addition to a main protein)

Fruit Salad (as an addition to a protein-heavy meal)

Tossing It Together

These are just a few of the many ideas that can bring life to your salads. Think of fun and exciting ingredients that will spice up your salad dishes. Alternate different lettuce variations to change up the flavor, texture, and look of your salads. Add your favorite raw, roasted, or sautéed veggies as well as varied healthy fats. Now you’re ready to wrap up summer with the best salads of the season!

Thanks for reading! Share your favorite salad ingredients and recipes. What makes an amazing salad for you?

Written by Melissa Stoner, Registered Dietitian and Weight Loss Coach

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.



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