Rachel Cook, MOVE’s Juice Bar Manager, shares her expertise in creating a perfect summer salad that doesn’t leave you reaching for the potato chips afterwards.
Summertime is officially here and with the scorching temperatures, you may find your tastebuds gravitating towards cooler meal options… Enter the salad! Salads are a fantastic vehicle for loading up your body with so many nutrients. They are vegetable-heavy which is a food group most of us need more of, and are also water-rich, which is especially important in the summer heat. However, to make a great salad that’s not going to leave you reaching for the potato chips and ice cream one hour later, you need to make sure you’re filling it with healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
Here Are 4 Steps to Create the Perfect Summer Salad:
- First, start with your greens. We all know how great kale is, but spinach, arugula, and romaine all have their merits! It’s nice to do a mix of lettuces, so you can get a variety of flavors and nutrients. Start with your favorite green, and then think about branching out into the unknown. Ever tried watercress? How about pac choi? We are so lucky we have so many options in the grocery store – and hey- they even sell already packaged mixes so you can leave the work to someone else!
- Next, load up on fruits and vegetables. Water-rich fruits and vegetables, like cucumber and radish, are great to keep you hydrated in the summer when you’ve been working up a sweat all day. This is also a great time to toss in any leftover vegetables you have from dinner throughout the week. Speaking of leftovers, I always find myself with extra herbs in my fridge and have started adding them in to my salads. Not only do herbs pack a flavor punch, but they pack a nutritional punch as well!
- Now we get to the territory where salads can be seriously lacking – the toppings! These will add texture and variety to your salad and make it a lasting meal. Toasted nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats and protein and add a nice crunch. Whole grains, as well as beans and legumes, add in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. If you eat meat, toss in some roast chicken or salmon to add even more protein. Cheese can be a healthful topping too, just be mindful of the serving size.
- Last but not least is the dressing. I would advocate to keep it simple with some nice extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Adding a tiny splash of maple syrup or honey along with dijon mustard lends a little extra flavor to the whole thing.
And voila! You are ready to dive in!
Rachel is MOVE’s Juice Bar Manager, Program Coordinator, and the founder of Raw Materials, a local catering and healthy baked-goods company.