The heat is on so why turn on the heat in your kitchen. Summer is the perfect season to lighten-up your meals with fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetable salads. A healthy template for a nutritionally balanced salad is one that includes lean protein, healthy fat, some whole grain fiber and of course, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Here are some options for building a deliciously nutritious summer salad:
Heart-Healthy Protein: Tuna fish, canned salmon, leftover grilled salmon, chicken or shrimp, cubed tofu, cooked and crumbled tempeh, edamame, veggie burgers; beans like kidney, garbanzo and white beans, hummus, unsalted nuts or any protein leftover from the night before.
High-Fiber Beans and Grains: Quinoa, barley, farro, whole wheat pasta, lentil and chickpea pasta, canned beans (rinsed), roasted chickpeas, edamame. Cook grains in advance so they will be ready for your salads.
Vegetables and Fruit: Select a variety of colors for the best range of nutrients (and for a pretty salad). Don’t settle for the usual lettuce, cucumber and tomato, elevate your salads with fruits and vegetables that are not so typical. Try crunchy jicama, sweet snap peas, vibrant watermelon radishes, purple carrots or juicy star fruit.
Healthy Fat: Finding a healthy salad dressing is often the biggest challenge. How do you keep your salads light and healthy without sabotaging them with heavy dressings? If you just can’t pass up the creamy blue cheese dressing, one tried and true tip is to use the fork dip method. Put the salad dressing in a small side container and dip you fork into the dressing, then into the salad. You’ll get the satisfying taste of the dressing but will use very little dressing. One other suggestion is make your own dressing. It’s easier than you think.
Here’s a round-up of some our favorite summer salads and lighter salad dressings.
Looking for a creamy dressing that is also healthy? Look no further! This avocado-based dressing is nutrient-dense and gives any item on your menu a vibrant green hue. Avocados provide heart healthy monounsaturated fat, and their rich creaminess makes them a great substitution for mayonnaise.
Cut down your grocery list by making homemade dressings for your salads. By using a simple template of oil, acid, salt and pepper you are able to create the base for endless salad dressing recipes. Since homemade salad dressings have less sodium than store-bought salad dressings, you will also reduce your salt intake as well!
Summer is upon us, so it is time to use those garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and onions to make this Authentic Greek Salad. Simply dress it with oil and vinegar, top with feta cheese, and serve with a piece of toasted whole grain bread to make this salad a satisfying meal.
This is an ideal dish for a light, summer meal. Simply combine cooked shrimp with avocado, arugula and Kamut for a recipe that is both fast and delicious. Feel free to customize this recipe by using your favorite whole grain and adding toppings such as feta cheese and fresh dill.
Get creative with your salads by adding an unusual whole grain like Kamut! The nutty taste and creamy texture of Kamut works well with the spicy arugula and sweet, juicy strawberries. For a zesty finishing touch, drizzle this salad with a homemade citrus vinaigrette.