Tricks to Include Salads in Your Regular Meals
Salads are healthy. As if you didn’t know that! By now, almost every article you’ve ever read, every video you’ve watched and every podcast you’ve listened to about healthy living must have hammered it into your head. We all know, intellectually, that salads are good for us, that we should have more of them. But how many of us are able to fit in a salad even once in an entire day? Most of us have little time to plan, and it slips our minds. In addition, salads still have a reputation of being somewhat boring and goody. That’s a shame because you are missing out on one of the greatest creations in culinary history.
Misconceptions about salads
- They can only be prepared with raw or half boiled vegetables and seasoned only with salt and lemon.
- They will never replace a square meal. They can never satiate
- You can’t get all your nutrition from a bowl of salad.
- They take too long to prepare.
- Eating raw food is dangerous. You might get infected by bacteria or viruses, or end up consuming pesticide residue.
These are mostly excuses for avoiding salads. The benefits far outweigh any potential costs.
What’s so great about salads anyway?
- Nutrient-rich – They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and digestive fiber. You can get most of your daily required intake of nutrients in one clever bowl of salad.
- Low calorific content – The best part about a delicious salad is that you can eat as much as you want without a bit of guilt. A salad is mostly composed of water and fiber, neither of which are fattening. You can enjoy without worrying about the flab.
Full body benefits:
- Vision – Spinach, lettuce, and carrots protect and repair your eyes from harmful lights that can damage your vision.
- A cure for insomnia – Lettuce contains nutrients that promote deep and regular sleep cycles.
- Digestion – Rich in fiber, salads help you feel full but without the bloating associated with a heavy meal. The body can easily digest and distribute the nutrients contained in a salad.
- Immunity – Salads contain antioxidants which fight off free radicals and toxins circulating in your bloodstream. This strengthens your immune system.
- Healthy fats – The most used oils in salad dressing are olive oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil. These are full of monounsaturated fats which help the body absorb nutrients such as phytochemicals, lycopene, and lutein. In addition, vinegar reduces the increase in blood sugar after a meal.
- Herbs – Salads are seasoned with herbs such as coriander, garlic, lemon juice, basil, and parsley. Not only are they flavorful, but also full of antioxidants. They can be used instead of high-calorie alternatives such as cheese or cream.
- Keeps diseases at bay – Research has proven that people who eat salads regularly live longer and more active lives, have reduced risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Thus, most lifestyle diseases are defeated by salads.
How to include a salad in your diet?
- Plan your meals so that every other day, a meal is replaced by a salad. Research recipes and take note of whether you have the ingredients. Since a salad does not include much cooking at all, it can be prepared in no time at all if the ingredients are readily available.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember when as a child a box of crayons could excite you? Building a colorful, flavorful salad from scratch will excite you in the same way. There are so many ingredients – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, yogurt, herbs, protein and even a bit of carbohydrate, flavors – sweet, sour, spicy, salty and hot, textures and combinations that you never need have the same salad again.
- Use ingredients which balance each other. For example, if you use vegetables for vitamins, include a bit of protein such as a hardboiled egg, chicken breast, cheese slices. You can use boiled potatoes or nuts to add some carbohydrates and make your salad more filling.
- Know what time of the day you will be consuming a salad. You can have a fruit based salad with cream, yogurt or honey dressing in the morning and green vegetables with meat or seafood for lunch or dinner. However, nothing has to be cut and dry. Salads come in all shapes and sizes – fresh salads, cooked salads, and pre-made salads.
Some ingredients in a healthy salad
- Greens – Spinach, romaine, cabbage, lettuce, radish, coriander, mint, asparagus, and kale.
- Grains – Buckwheat, quinoa, millet, wild rice, barley, and wheat.
- Protein – Roasted tofu, eggs, beans, salmon, turkey, tuna and chicken.
- Vegetables – Radish, cucumber, broccoli, tomato, bell peppers, peas, olives, mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, beets, and Brussel sprouts.
- Fruits – Berries, orange, grapefruit, grapes, melon, pineapple, pomegranate seeds and apples.
- Nuts and seeds – Pistachio, cashew, peanuts, coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.
- Toppings, dressings and flavorings – Feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, canola oil, mustard, Greek yogurt, honey, pepper, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, and thyme.
- All the raw ingredients must be washed thoroughly to remove pesticide residue and harmful pathogens.
- Don’t go overboard with the dressing or any fattening ingredient. That is one sure fire way to negate any benefit from the salad.
Consult with Delhi’s best dietitians to understand your customized diet plan for weight loss and ways as per your choice of cultural background. Good luck, and healthy and happy living for you!