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Salad; it’s the go-to option for those aiming to lose weight. They’re good for you and simple to make, but it’s easy to make a boring one, or a not-so-healthy one, or the same one over and over again until you’re sick of it! Here we run through some ways to help you keep your salads interesting AND healthy!
Have you fallen into a salad rut of going for the same three ingredients time and time again? Start with shaking up your choice of greens as there’s more than just iceberg lettuce out there. How about some romaine, kale, arugula, spinach, escarole, or butter lettuce? Experiment and see which you prefer as some leaves can be bitter or peppery, which is great for adding flavor to your salad. And remember, the darker the leaf, the more nutrients it has, which are crucial to ensure successful weight loss.
Salad is much more than an accompaniment; a salad can be a real meal if you add two or three sources of filling, nutrient-dense foods. Think lean protein such as boiled eggs or tuna, starches and whole grains such as sweet potatoes, pinto beans or brown rice, or a healthy fat source such as avocado or tahini dressing. This way you can fill up with a healthy meal while experiencing a real mixture of flavors and textures with every bite.
Raw bell peppers and cucumber are great veggies to add some crunch to your salad, but how about some nuts or seeds? Often misjudged as a 'bad' food, nuts are in fact great sources of filling protein, healthy fats and tons of vitamins and seeds are great for you too. Roasted hazelnuts add a sweet flavor, cashews are deliciously creamy, pomegranate seeds add an unexpected twist, and sesame seeds can give your salad a whole new flavorsome lease of life. While raw nuts are softer and sweeter, roasted nuts are crunchier and nuttier, and nuts roasted with sweet, spicy or herby flavors like rosemary add even more interest.
Alongside your crunch, how about some smooth avocado or boiled eggs? Then there’s the option of adding cooked whole grains such as millet, barley, or quinoa, or some delicious roasted veggies such as carrots or tomatoes for a delicious warming base and a lots of nutrients to help you through the colder months ahead. Edamame beans, lentils, black eyed peas, and other beans are great in salads for adding interesting tastes and textures plus tons of nutrition and protein, and these foods and other salad savers can be kept in store to ensure you’ll always be prepared. Another great way to add texture, flavor and protein is with a little cheese; how about goat’s cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinegar for a crunchy smooth flavor with a kick? Or ricotta with spinach, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes? Salad doesn't seem so boring now does it?!
While salads are a great way to eat more vegetables, fruit is a great addition to any salad; the soft sweetness of fresh fruit adds a new dimension while dried fruits are deliciously chewy, not to mention the added antioxidants and nutrients that fruit provides. You may have experimented with pineapple or chopped apple in your savory salads, but how about a combination of leafy greens, sweet strawberries, spicy jalapeños, salty sunflower seeds and bitter grapefruit? Other great salad fruits include mango, kiwi, dried cherries and dried figs.
While many of us know to avoid creamy dressings, it can be a common mistake to go overboard with the olive oil. Yes it’s healthy and full of good fats, but skip the tuna packed in olive oil, peppers roasted in olive oil, and olives preserved in oil. Instead, just go for a smooth, controlled drizzle of olive oil to dress the salad and bring the flavors together.
Balsamic vinegar is a popular dressing, but how about a spritz of lime or lemon, or a blood orange dressing – great with red cabbage and warm barley for a sweet but tangy edge to a warming salad dish for the colder months. Another great idea is to make your own ‘salad booster’, which can be a combination of toasted kale or nori seaweed, nuts and seeds, or any herbs and spices that you personally like, ground together for a flavorsome edge to add to your salad. Sprinkle liberally and enjoy!
Healthy eating is far from boring if you experiment with ingredients, flavors and textures, and these salad ideas show how much potential there is to mix things up while getting in lots of important nutrients, plus salads can easily be made in advance to ensure you’re planning for success on your weight loss journey. However, if you feel you need something to help you with appetite suppression and an additional energy boost, then a weight loss supplement will ensure that you can establish a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain weight loss in the long term.