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Salads

Salads are the most versatile of meals.  They can be small and eaten as an appetizer, or they can be eaten as a main meal.  They can be eaten as a dessert when filled with a selection of fruits and sweet veggies, or used as a filling for wraps.

While many of us associate the word "salad" with "healthy," in the standard American diet, the opposite has become much more typical.  Healthy salads quickly turn into unhealthy, high fat, dense foods that rob us of our energy and degrade our health.  Let's talk about what the main ingredients of a healthy salad should be and what to avoid completely.  Then, we'll check out some exciting combinations of foods and flavors we can create.

What salads should have...

Salads should always have a main base (75%) of either fruits or vegetables that are less dense and high in water content.  These whole foods not only digest much quicker in our bodies, but because they are high in water content, they naturally hydrate the cells and tissues of our bodies.
 
75%
High in water content
(Lighter, less dense foods)
  25%
Low in water content
(Heavier, more dense foods)
Examples:
  • Greens (lettuce, kale, Swiss chard)
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Tomato
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Onion
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet corn
  • Jicama
  Examples:
  • Avocado
  • Root veggies (potatoes, beets, yams, parsnips, turnips)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Winter Squash (butternut, acorn)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
  • Grains (rice, wheat berries)
  • Pseudo grains (quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth)
  • Animal products* (meat, eggs, dairy)

What to avoid...

Avoid refined food of any kind.  Let's take a look at a few examples:

A word about salad dressings...

When it comes to salad dressings, ditch the packaged dressings and make your own instead.  Why?  Because most commercial dressings contain processed sugar, high sodium content, and a concoction of food colorings, flavorings, and other chemicals that are very unhealthy.  
 
Experiment with the following combinations of ingredients:
 
  • Citrus juice and/or rind (lemon, lime, orange...)
  • Herbs & Seasonings (sea salt, cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, turmeric...)
  • Vinegar (balsamic, white, apple cider, red wine...)
  • Natural sweeteners (honey, coconut sugar, sucanat...)
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic / onion / shallots
  • Mustard
  • Ginger
  • Nutritional yeast (for a cheese flavor)
  • Liquid oils* (olive, avocado, grapeseed, coconut, walnut, pecan...)
If you choose to use oil, choose a high quality, healthy oil and use it in VERY small quantities (see above, in "what to avoid").

 
One More Thing

Make sure your produce is ripe when you eat it, or it will be lower in nutritional value and more difficult for your body to digest.  Wherever possible, choose organic produce over conventional.  Here's why...

Fun Combo Ideas

When it comes to making a salad, have fun mixing and matching your favorite veggies together.  Mixing in fruits and dried fruits and trying different combinations of herbs and spices is a great way to make a salad more flavorful and tasty.  Experiment and see what tantalizes your taste buds!