How To Build The Best Salad
Salads are an easy, tasty way to add vital nutrients to your diet. They’re so versatile and quick to make, plus they are an awesome addition to your meal prepping routine. If you’re hosting a family dinner or get together with friends, putting a little extra effort into your salads can make them a real crowd pleaser!
Another benefit of regularly incorporating salads into your eating plan? You have the chance to take advantage of in-season fruits and veggies and you might find it’s really easy to eat healthy, even on a tight budget.
My tips for building the best salad
So, want to know how to build the BEST salad? Follow the tips below!
Pick your base
If you can, try to stick to leafy, dark greens, such as spinach, rocket, watercress or kale, rather than iceberg or cos lettuce varieties. Choosing darker greens can maximise your intake of nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and K and more. Adding these to your salad mix means you are well on your way to meeting your daily recommended intake for these nutrients.
If you don’t have enough protein in your salad, chances are you are going to get very hungry, very quickly! Protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and turns your salad from a side to a main meal.
Adding grilled chicken to your salad is a simple and flexible way to get your protein fix, which can help you feel fuller for longer. Some other great protein option is grilled salmon. Salmon is a great source of Omega 3, which helps your body to fight inflammation and promotes healthy skin.
Beans or tofu are also great for a vegetarian option. Try to stay away from deep fried additions, such as crumbed calamari or chicken, as these will also add large amounts of fat and salt to your salad.
If you eat salads regularly, you can mix up the flavours of your protein source by using different herbs and spices. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this can make!
Choose your grains
As a source of carbohydrates, adding grains to your salad can give your energy supply a little boost. We all know what it’s like to eat a delicious fresh salad and then feel like snacking a few hours later!
Adding a healthier grain option, such as couscous or quinoa, provides your body with fibre, which can be filling, as well as a number key nutrients. Grains also add an earthy flavour that balances tangy dressings.
Add three vegetables
There is no such thing as a right or wrong combination when selecting vegetables for your salad! I suggest using both cooked or raw vegetables to test out the textures and flavours you like best. Some great vegetable combinations to try are tomato, onion and mushroom or carrot, cucumber and capsicum.
You can also play around with preparation techniques (such as dicing, chopping, Julienne or grating) if you’re feeling creative! To add extra colour, look for different varieties of your regular salad ingredients, such as yellow tomatoes or purple carrots.
Add some healthy fats
Your body needs fat (the good ones!) to help regulate your moods and keep your blood sugar in check. Foods such as walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds contain Omega 3, which can also help to lower blood pressure as well. It’s really easy to incorporate healthy fats into your salad - just sprinkle over some chopped walnuts, toss some pepitas in for extra crunch or add some diced avocado, which is one of my favourites!
Add your dressing
When it comes to salad dressings, I always think that fresh is best! I’d much rather make my own salad dressing rather than relying on store-bought ones that often contain preservatives or artificial flavours. I recommend using fresh ingredients or healthy oils in the salad dressing instead. Try to pick a dressing that doesn’t detract from the vegetables, but complements them. A tasty vinaigrette is always a great addition.
For an easy to make salad dressing that is much healthier than the store bought options, check out some of these homemade healthy salad dressings.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.