Salad is one of those things that you can get tired of pretty quickly.
Have you ever heard someone announce in a restaurant that they are just dying for a salad?
So here are some easy ways to put a gourmet spin on your bed of greens to make a drool-worthy meal, by layering in the goodies like nuts, prosciutto, and cheese while ramping up the superfoods like spinach, beans, and leafy greens.
Pear salad with glazed pecans on romaine: Pears are high in fiber – which is important to get during the cold weather months – when appetites tend to naturally increase. Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and lower in calories mean you can eat more volume without becoming more “voluminous”. Adding a few nuts is also a great way to calm hunger and get the right portion of healthy fat – important to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A and D and also keep skin healthy during the cooler weather months.
Grilled or Sautéed mushrooms, thinly sliced cabbages & sesame dressing: Meat lovers are oftentimes fond of mushrooms too and it’s no wonder since mushrooms contain amino acids just like meat (and can have a meaty texture). They are also high in selenium, important for the immune system, thyroid metabolism and reproduction.
Brussels Sprouts with balsamic and hazelnuts tossed with baby mixed greens: Brussels sprouts are cruciferous cancer fighters, much like cauliflower and cabbage, because they share common compounds – glucosinolates. They also happen to be very high in vitamin C and can be absolutely delicious when cooked properly. Whatever cooking method you use, the key is to not overcook them – that’s what releases the sulfur-based compounds that smell of rotten eggs.
Avocado and grapefruit wedges on butter lettuce with your favorite lemon-based vinegar: We’ve got two super foods here that are both rich in potassium, that helps to maintain water levels in your body and keep muscle-cramps at bay. If you take prescription drugs, check with your doctor for possible interactions from eating grapefruit.
Roasted beets with goat cheese and lentils: Beets are high in manganese which is good news for your body in many ways including maintaining bone health and the health of your nervous system. Lentils which are high in fiber are also a great for keeping cholesterol in check while giving you a dose of iron and lean protein at the same time.
White beans and kale with crispy prosciutto: Beans are a good source of manganese and iron, and can give you filling fiber that helps to maintain blood sugar spikes and dips, which means less hunger pangs. Kale is king with it comes to the “anti’s”, because it contains compounds that are anti-inflammatories, anti-oxidants, and anti-cancer. My favorite way to eat it is to crisp it in the oven just as you would cook bacon and prosciutto.
Artichoke, shaved Parmesan, and grilled scallions: Artichokes are an rich source of cynarin and silymarin, two vital anti-oxidants that can give your liver a helping hand. Much like peas, artichokes contain high amounts of fiber and if you find the fresh pricey or hard to prepare, get the frozen. Canned artichokes are also available year round but contain a lot of salt, so frozen is a better bet when you pair them with salty ingredients likes Parmesan and salad dressing.
Fresh baby peas, shrimp, and avocado: Peas are sweet and very high in fiber, great for weight loss because it makes you feel full and helps to steady blood sugar. Fresh peas taste world’s above their frozen counterpart, but frozen peas are a good option since they don’t lose any of their nutrition and are budget friendly.
Roasted asparagus with lemon or orange sections and toasted pine nuts: Asparagus is high in fiber and folate and is delicious when roasted with a little olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place your asparagus, fresh from the oven, onto a bed of mesclun greens, butter lettuce, or chopped romaine.
Red bell pepper, black beans, and cilantro: Red bell pepper is the vitamin C superstar. It also happens to contain molybdenum. Watercress, Romaine, or leafy green lettuce is a good base for these Latin flavors.
Spinach with hot turkey bacon dressing and thinly slice red onion: Spinach is the superhero of the vegetables world: You can think of it as an alphabet of nutrition, starting with vitamin A, B, and C and the list continues on with many vital minerals as well. Prepare this salad with raw, tender baby spinach leaves as excessive cooking can kill water soluble vitamins like C. Whisk a little olive oil directly in your skillet once the bacon is cooked and add a few tablespoon of red wine vinegar for a delightful dressing.
Cherry tomatoes, fresh corn and buffalo mozzarella: Tomatoes are high in vitamin A and C as well as lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant that lives in the pigment that give tomatoes their rich red hue. I eat my fresh summer corn raw in salads, it’s so sweet and tender – there is really no need to steam it first. Look for tender baby lettuce leaves from your local farmer’s market. Fresh mozzarella adds plenty of calcium and the slightly sour buffalo mozzarella is a nice contrast against the sweet tomato and corn.
Chicken Caesar with romaine, plum tomatoes, shaved parmesan: Romaine is one of the most nutritious lettuces, it’s high in vitamin C and A and just 2 cups chopped will give you more than 40% of your daily needs of both. I prefer to slice it and since it has a hearty texture it’s holds up well in your crisper and is a perfect base for heavier toppings like chicken.