Want to know the most simple way to get your four servings of vegetables per day? Put together a nice, big salad.
One sizable salad every day is the perfect way to get your daily servings in all at once — giving you the flexibility with other meals and making sure you’re always on track with your nutrition
The basics of building a super-healthy sexy salad
Start with local, seasonal produce from your farmer’s market or grocery store, then add protein and a healthy dressing and you’re good to go.
Follow this guide daily to optimize your metabolic health, energy, and overall well-being!
Step 1: Pick your base – greens or grains.
There are so many nutritious greens you can use as the base of your salad, like some of the following:
- Lettuce — The darker or redder, the better — so think romaine and leaf lettuce (vitamin C, folic acid, potassium).
- Leafy greens — Jazz things up with spring mix, baby spinach, and kale or arugula (beta-carotene, antioxidants).
Tip: Steer clear of the iceberg and other pale lettuce. They’re high water content which means fewer nutrients.
Step 2: Create some color and load up on veggies.
Vegetables are low in calories, but high in nutrients, meaning the more you add to your salad, the more nutritious it will be. Try some of these, too. The possibilities are endless!
- Red, orange, yellow, or green peppers (vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6, folate).
- Avocado slices (over 20 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy fat).
- Tomatoes (fiber, vitamins A, C and K, potassium, manganese).
- Red onion (fiber, phytochemicals).
- Pomegranate seeds (vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, potassium, calcium, antioxidants).
- Red, purple or yellow beets (folate).
- Sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C, manganese)
- Brussels sprouts (vitamins C, A, and B6, folate).
- Asparagus (vitamins A, E, and K, folate).
Tip: Swap bread for 2 tablespoons of corn or peas per serving to your salad. They’re high in starch just like bread.
Step 3: Add some crunch
The best way to give your salad a little extra spunk is with some crunchy toppings or some healthy fats.
- Celery (vitamin A).
- Cucumber (vitamin C).
- Purple cabbage (vitamins A and C, iron).
- Peapods (vitamins A and C, iron).
- Edamame (vitamin C, iron).
- Broccoli florets (vitamin C).
- Walnuts or almonds (fiber, protein, niacin).
- Alfalfa sprouts (antioxidants).
- Sunflower seeds or chia seeds (fiber, protein).
Tip: Avoid these high in fat, sodium, and low nutrients options: croutons, tortilla strips, wonton strips, and chow mein noodles.
Step 4: Add fruit for a pop of flavor.
- For an extra refreshing antioxidant and flavor boost, throw in some blueberries, or mandarin oranges.
- Apples are filling ( pair well with goat cheese or sweet potatoes)
- Pomegranate seeds have a tart taste( pair well with arugula, spinach or mixed greens)
- Apple or pear slices (vitamin C, flavonoids).
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries (vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids).
Tip: Don’t go crazy on dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, dates, and raisins as they’re higher in sugar than fresh fruit.
Step 5: Add protein (or not)
Not all salads need protein in order to be super filling. If you are looking for a more protein-packed salad, try:
- Black beans, garbanzo beans, or lentils (fiber).
- Chicken or lean beef.
- Salmon, shrimp, or water-packed tuna (omega-3 fatty acids).
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Tofu (heart-healthy fat, potassium).
- Low-fat feta cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, parmesan, or mozzarella (calcium, vitamin D).
Tip: Pair up a small amount of cheese with your other favorite protein. Cheese is very high in saturated fat.
Step 6: Dress it up.
No salad is complete without a dressing. Most pre-made, store-bought salad dressings are packed with sugar and other additives, so it’s best to DIY your own. it’s easy once you remember this basic trick:
- 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.
- Lemon juice (vitamin C, folate).
- Lime juice (vitamin C, potassium).
- Asian-style dressing (sesame oil and rice vinegar with a splash of soy sauce)
- For a simple vinaigrette try using red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil (heart-healthy fat).
Tip: Use less oil and more vinegar & citrus. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat Ranch, Thousand Island, and French dressings.
If you are starting off your salad or veggies intake, try starting once or twice a week to ease your way into a loving salad. If that’s too much for you, try experimenting with a hearty bowl of some leafy green, grain eggs, beans, protein, and add as many veggies mentioned above as you desire.
A fruit salad will also help you get your 2-3 daily servings of fruit intake.
If you don’t love salad or struggle with any leafy greens, veggies in any form are fine-be sure to get those 4 servings of veggies in any way you can. Slowly build upon each day. You’ll soon have more energy and feel better than ever.