How to Turn Salads into Tasty, Filling, Weight Loss Warriors

 

As the universal symbol for I'm on a diet, salads often get a bad rap. Is it the food guilt that they illicit? The threat of a flavorless meal? Or is it the fear of being hungry in 20 minutes that makes people avoid them? Well, we're here to tell you, it's time to redeem the humble green salad. It's time to follow the rule, a salad a day will keep the nutritionist away!

Being the cornerstone of any healthy eating plan, salads should be eaten all year round, but how can you learn to love that colorful bowl of veggies?

1.      Eat seasonal salads!

If you happen to live in a well-populated area, it may easy to get fruits and veggies of all kinds all year round. But you'll save money and get a wide array of nutrients and flavors if you always eat according to the season.

Cold and crunchy salads are a nice welcome for the gloriously sunny days of Spring and Summer. During these warm days, any mix of avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, butter lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, oranges, spinach, swiss chard, and tomatoes can make for a delicious salad.

For the chilly, shorter days of Fall and Winter, focus on beets, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, endive, kale, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. Think cooked veggies aren't salad worthy? No way! Roasted, baked, or even steamed veggies pair wonderfully with a crisp bowl of greens.

2.      Add fruity goodness!

Adding fruits to your greens is an easy way to ensure you're eating all colors of the rainbow. For better digestion and flavor combination, always pair your fruits with mostly leafy greens and avoid adding too many other ingredients. Keep the dressing simple, the fruit will provide lots of natural sugar and taste.

If you're fond of fruity extras, try blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, mango, oranges, raspberries, and strawberries which are in season in the Spring and Summer. During the colder months you can easily find clementines, cranberries, pears, persimmons, and pomegranate the perfect additions to your winter salad.

Here are our favorite veggie and fruit pairings by season:

Spring/Summer

·        Spring mix and grapes

·        Spinach and strawberries

·        Butter lettuce and oranges

Fall/Winter

·        Endive and pear

·        Kale and pomegranate seeds

·        Brussels sprouts and cranberries

3.      Boost with protein!

One of the most drool-worthy ways to enhance any salad is to add a punch of protein. A hunk of healthy protein will instantly turn your salad into a full-sized meal. But don't forget, protein comes in many shapes and sizes from meats to nuts to legumes. Oh and let's not dismiss cheese!

Animal protein:

·        Baked fish, fresh shrimp, crab or scallops , Shredded or grilled chicken, chopped bacon, grilled steak strips, boiled eggs

Beans and Legumes:

·        Black beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, steamed edamame

Nuts and seeds:

·        Slivered almonds , chopped peanuts, walnuts, candied pecans, pine nuts, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds.

Cheese:

·        Swiss, mozzarella, cheddar , blue cheese, gorgonzola, feta, goat

Still not a salad master? Try these recipes!

With all the above variations, it's easy to consider a bed of vegetables as delicious and ultra satisfying. The combinations are infinite and the nutritional palette would make any health-nut jump for joy. But if you're still drawing a blank when it comes to preparing your next bowl of greens, check out these filling and flavorful salads.

Black Bean and Avocado Salad:

Mix mozzarella with pan-roasted corn, black beans, and avocado to create a rich Mexican-inspired feast.

·        5 cups green leaf lettuce, chopped

·        ½ cup smoked tomato vinaigrette (such as Drew's Smoked Tomato Dressing)

·        1 can (15 oz) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained

·        1 teaspoon ground cumin

·        2 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears)

·        2 ounces smoked mozzarella, diced

·        1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

·        ¾ cup coarsely chopped avocado

·        ½ cup finely chopped red onion

·        ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1.      Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and pan-roast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. TIP: If you use frozen corn kernels, make sure they're thawed and dry so they don't stick to the pan.

2.      In a large bowl, combine beans, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

3.      Combine corn and remaining ingredients with black beans. Add dressing and toss well. Chill until ready to serve.

4.      Divide lettuce evenly into four salad bowls and top with black bean mixture. Enjoy!

Beet and Walnut Winter Salad:

A hearty combination of wholesome foods perfect for the cold weather months.

·        2 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed

·        ¼ cup crumbled herb goat cheese

·        2 cups julienned Belgian endive or substitute with arugula or mixed greens

·        1 cup julienned fennel

·        1 small pear, cored and thinly sliced

·        ¾ cup coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts      

For dressing:

·        3 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard

·        3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

·        ¾ cup olive oil

·        1 Tablespoon chopped shallots

·        1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

·        1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

·        salt and pepper

1.      Place the beets in a saucepan and cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

2.      Drain and shock the beets in ice water. Remove the skins and stem ends. Julienne and reserve for the salad.

3.      For the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the mustard and lemon juice. Slowly add the oil, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in the shallots, rosemary, and sage, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.      In a large bowl, toss the beets, endive, fennel, pear and walnuts with the dressing to lightly coat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5.      Divide the salads among four plates and top each serving with goat cheese.

Enjoy!

 

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