When it’s too hot outside to even think about turning an oven on, salads come to the rescue. Summer is the perfect time to get into the groove of making delicious salads with the abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables available at lower prices. Salads, when done right, can be a satisfying meal or an excellent side to up your fruit and veggie intake.
Here are some quick tips to make fun, filling, and nutritious salads every time.
1. Focus on Macronutrients
Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. For a satisfying meal, incorporate ingredients that contain all three macronutrients in your salad. Proteins and carbohydrates give us energy and fats are important to keep us feeling full and to help our bodies absorb vital vitamins like A, D, E and K.
Proteins can come from a variety of animal and plant based sources. Vegetarians and vegans can find protein in a number of bean sources including tofu, tempeh, edamame, chickpeas, in addition to nuts, seeds, cheese, eggs and quinoa.
Carbohydrates can come from many building blocks of the salad: any fruit, vegetable, or grain you wish to include. We enjoy substituting the usual lettuce and salad greens for kale, shredded cabbage or spinach.
Including heart-healthy, plant-based fats such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts for a heart-healthy salad and to help us feel full longer.
2. Eat the Rainbow
Incorporating elements from many different colors in your salad not only makes it beautiful and more appetizing to eat, but also helps you incorporate important micronutrients, vitamins and minerals into your daily diet. If you need inspiration, there are loads of bloggers and social media accounts dedicated to attainable rainbow salads. A few of my favorite sources are these health conscious IG peeps, Veggin in the City or Daily Vegan Bowls.
3. Focus on in-season ingredients
My favorite cooking challenge is taking stock of what I have in the refrigerator and coming up with a creative way to cook it or incorporate it into a salad. This process often begins when I go to the grocery store and buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Since I despise throwing away food, so I make every effort to make sure I’m not wasting anything that’s in my refrigerator (also, having a compost bin comes in handy to utilize every part of my fruit and vegetables). To successfully create a killer salad from fridge contents may require some roasting or sautéing, but the mix of raw and cooked vegetables is worth it and creates a super delicious salad! This website is a great guide to finding seasonal fruits and vegetables based on where you live, though whatever is on sale at the store is generally a good bet.
4. Get Creative with Add-Ons
To make salads appealing to eat, toppings are the way to go! When choosing toppings, think about what it would add to the salad. For sweetness, add fruits like berries, peaches or dried cranberries and raisins. For crunch add nuts, seeds, or pita chips. Save old, crusty bread from going into the trash by making homemade croutons. For chewiness, add farro, pasta, or rice. Cheese, pesto, and even hummus make creamy additions.
5. Make your own dressing
Dressings are surprisingly easy to make. A simple rule of thumb is 1 part acid to three parts fat, plus an emulsifier to keep dressing from separating. For acid, consider any type of vinegar or citrus juice (lemon is my personal fav). For fat, opt for olive or avocado oil, peanut butter or tahini. Emulsifiers are usually thick, like mustard, yogurt, hummus, honey, or mashed avocado. For extra flavor, add herbs and spices to flavor your dressing.
When looking for inspiration, the internet is chock-full of ideas. This infographic is a comprehensive guide.
We hope these tips help you make delicious salads. If you decide to share your creation on Facebook or Instagram, don't forget to tag us at @zeetabody or use the hashtag #zeetabody. We'd love to see what you've made!
Happy salad making!