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How to Construct the Perfect Spring Salad

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May is Salad Month and there is no better time to enjoy a big bowl of fresh spring veggies.  

The problem with salads is that they are often boring - the side salad with iceberg lettuce and pale tomatoes.  Or, they are piled high with "extras" that add up and turn them into dessert instead of a healthy side or meal.  In fact, some restaurant salads pack in more calories than their burger and more sugar than items on the dessert menu.    

So, let's talk about making a perfect salad that you will look forward to having AND provides loads of essential nutrients for health and happiness.  

Step 1:

Start with 2 cups of greens for your base.  Spring mix, baby kale, spinach, or arugula will give you the most nutritional umph.  You really can't overdo in this department.  Greens are so low in calories and carbohydrates and high in fiber and nutrients, you want to load up in step 1. 

Step 2:

Add 1 cup (or more if you like) of additional raw or lightly steamed vegetables to power up your plate with phytonutrients and antioxidants.  This could include carrots, cucumber, asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli, snap peas, bell pepper . . . the list goes on.  

Step 3: 

Add some healthy fats (if you are afraid to add fat to your salad, read this previous post on the many benefits 5 Favorite Healthy Fats (and why eat more of them) from avocado, olives, nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc), or seeds (sunflower, hemp, chia, flax).

Step 4:

It's especially important if this salad is going to be a meal that you add a serving of quality protein.  This could be chicken, hard-boiled eggs, fish, or grass-fed beef.  If you don't eat meat, your protein can come from beans, quinoa, or tempeh. 

Step 5:

Any extras that can add a nutritional punch and raise the flavor bar . . . . fresh herbs (Like mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil) or add a little fruit (berries or diced green apple are your best options).  If dairy agrees with you, 1 ounce of full-fat cheese can add tang and a creamy texture. I can't do cows milk dairy, but I tolerate crumbled goat cheese and goats milk feta.  

Step 6:

Skip the bottle and make your own healthy and flavorful salad dressing.  It's an easy formula:

  • 1 part vinegar (red wine, apple cider, rice wine, or balsamic)
  • 2 parts healthy oil (olive, avocado, sesame, hemp, or walnut)
  • Flavors of your choice (herbs, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, shallots)

If I don't have time to make my own dressing, I 100% trust the quality ingredients in Primal Kitchen brand dressings. I've loved them all!

Looking for some additional Spring Salad inspiration? Head over to Facebook and follow us at Peak Potential PT where I will be posting some of my favorites this week.