By Cristina Pessegueiro, Skinny Gene Nutritionist
Whoever said filling up on fruits and vegetables has to be dull and tedious obviously never had any fun with their salads. Salads can be enjoyable, unfussy, and anything but basic. If you know how to build them, they can be hearty and as the summer months approach, a refreshing salad may be just what your body needs. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diet can be heart healthy, help us fight cancer with powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals, and help us with our weight goals thanks to their low calories. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables also helps control glucose levels which ultimately help in lowering A1C levels. According to the World Health Organization, low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top 10 selected risk factors for global mortality. That means including fruits and vegetables into a healthy diet could actually add years to your life!
When creating your salad you want to choose a rainbow of colors, not only because it brightens up your plate, but it also allows for the most variety in vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy greens alone are an excellent source of Vitamin K, which helps our blood, and a good source of Vitamin A, important for eye health. The more colors on your plate, the more you reduce your risk for heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Not to mention, the more variety you have, the more opportunity for fiber! Fiber is great for keeping blood sugar spikes at bay and helping keep us fuller longer.
Putting together your salad doesn’t have to be a daunting task either. Most can be thrown together in a flash and even use some of last night’s leftovers for quick and easy add-ins. All it takes is a little creativity and a desire for a healthy self. Let me show you 10 convenient and delicious salads that make it even easier to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
10 Convenient and Delicious Salads
- In honor of National Strawberry Month, this salad includes an entire cup of the delectable fruit which packs a Vitamin C antioxidant punch and is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids thanks to the added almonds.
- This warm beet and spinach salad can be a gratifying meal in 20 minutes packed with the vitamin B2 riboflavin, important for healthy blood cells. Toss in some chicken or other lean protein for a truly fulfilling salad.
- Step away from the blueberry muffin! If that tart and sweet combo is what you crave, try out this blueberry salad for breakfast (yes breakfast!). Thanks to a little added granola and orange sections, this fiber packed salad will conquer your hunger all morning long.
- This recipe uses fiber and protein packed quinoa for a satisfying lunch when you need something substantial. If tofu isn’t your style, feel free to use any other lean meat or beans you like. Use last night’s quinoa or vegetables and cut the prep time for this salad to 5 minutes!
- This amazing Thai beef salad will have everyone at the dinner table asking for more vegetables. This effortless meal is a great way to get the whole family loving their greens thanks to low calorie romaine lettuce hearts full of folate and Vitamin K.
- No extra dressing needed for this vegetarian taco salad thanks to a little salsa. This nourishing salad is not only filling with its 8g of fiber and 13g of protein, but also rich in the powerful antioxidant lycopene that promotes a healthy heart and immune system.
- Not a fan of lettuce? No problem! Try jicama like in this speedy and uncomplicated salad instead. Jicama is rich in fiber and vitamin C, not to mention refreshing on a warm day.
- In less than 15 minutes you can have this healthier adaptation of a cobb salad that is not only quick but satisfying thanks to the heart healthy fat in avocado. No need to worry about sodium either, this version uses low sodium turkey bacon for that same crunch.
- What’s more enjoyable than a southwest salad. Black beans are a great addition to any salad for added fiber. This recipe uses nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream for all the same wonderful flavor but half the fat and calories. Try using greek yogurt and you’ll get an added protein bonus.
- A salad list wouldn’t be complete without the classic chicken Cesar salad. This kale version is much more thrilling however and offers the added benefits of the super food kale’s iron for healthy skin, hair, and strong bones. Let’s not forget the 2.6g fiber and 3g of protein per cup!