Healthy Meals in a Snap

When people think about salad, they often think of lettuce with maybe a sliced tomato  Salad_as_mealtossed in. But salads can be so much more. In fact, they can be an entire meal by itself, and they don’t have to include lettuce at all.

Salads make sense any time, but especially now with the weather heating up. Now is a good time to think about fixing meals that are cool and refreshing, as well as healthy. So, just what can go into a healthy salad?

Step 1: Decide on the base. Iceberg lettuce may be the most popular variety in the U.S., but we recommend that you try other varieties of lettuce. In terms of taste and nutritional value, iceberg lettuce is at the bottom of the ladder, and you’ll find that varieties like Romaine, Boston, and Oak Leaf each have their own unique flavors. You can also use Arugula, Kale, spinach, or watercress for a salad. Experiment with different types and see which you and your family like best. One general rule of thumb: usually, the darker the green, the more vitamins, nutrients and flavor the plant will have.

tomato_basil_feta saladAs a tasty alternative, you can take a cue from Europeans and build up salads using ingredients like tomatoes or bell peppers as the base; good salads don’t necessarily need to incorporate lettuce at all! And they don’t have to be complicated, either. One of the salads that we like best is one that’s simply sliced tomatoes and feta cheese, topped with fresh basil and a bit of garlic-infused olive oil. It’s quick, easy and tastes great!

Step 2: Add protein. Once you’ve decided on the base, add some protein to make your salad into a meal. You can do this in a variety of ways, so think about what sounds best to you. While shredded ham or roasted chicken are great ways to get started when it comes to adding protein to your food, don’t forget things like eggs, crab meat, tofu, or even ground beef.

You can even use meat that has been seasoned during cooking. We love making a “Tex-mex” salad by adding ground beef that’s been cooked with taco seasoning. Another quick idea is to use chicken that’s been cooked with a teriyaki sauce to give your meal an Oriental flair.

Step 3: Finish it up. Don’t be limited to just greens. You can add artichoke hearts, beans, hearts of palm, peppers, cucumbers, nuts, and Chef_saladseeds. And, don’t forget about fruit, too. Adding Manderine orange slices, chopped apple, dried cranberries, fresh strawberries, or even melon balls to a salad can give it a wonderful flavor “kick.”

Step 4: Top it off with a dressing. Here’s where you need to be careful, though. Many dressings are loaded with fat and calories. It doesn’t help to create a healthy, flavorful salad and then smother it with creamy, high-calorie blue cheese dressing. Instead, try a light oil and vinegar dressing, or if you really want to go healthy, try just squeezing a fresh lemon or fresh lime over your salad. Once you get going, you’ll find that there is no end to the combinations you can create. And, as long as you pay attention to the dressing, salads can be very healthy.

So, the next time you’re looking for something different to fix for dinner – something both healthy and refreshing – try salad as a main course. You might even try a salad bar, so that each member of your family can pile on the ingredients they like the most! With a great salad, you can create a healthy meal in a snap!

chef-michael

Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
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You might also want to read: Quick and Easy: How About a Taco Bar for Dinner?, Quick, Healthy Grocery Shopping, Want Your Kids to Eat Better? Here’s How

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