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Ways To Power Up A Salad

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Salad, it’s simple, cost effective, and great for people trying to regiment themselves on a nutritional plan. The ironic thing is people often try and use salads to improve their nutritional intake, without quite knowing what they are doing.  Plain salads do not have a lot of nutritional value in them. The problem is a lot of people assume because they are choosing salad, they are automatically meeting their nutritional needs. While there is no doubt about the benefits green foods offer to a person’s diet, salad mixes usually consist of mostly lettuce and only miniscule amounts of the other vegetables and green foods Take your average variety of house salad mix, generally it will have in it one or a few varieties of lettuce, a few diced up carrots, baby greens, and occasionally some spinach and or chopped up tomatoes.. The nutritional value of a cup of lettuce works out to be about 8 calories, less than a gram of protein, less than 2 grams of carbs, and 0 grams of fat. Lettuce by itself does not provide a lot of nutritional bang for it’s buck. The key to any nutritional plan is to eat enough nutrients that the body can make changes. If a person is trying to gain weight but not eating enough calories, then in turn they will not gain weight. The same holds true for trying to lose weight. Even if a person is restricting their calorie amount in an effort to loose weight they still need a certain amount of calories for the process to happen. Eat too few calories and instead of loosing weight the body hoards the small amount of nutrients it receives or even worst it may start eating muscle tissue instead of body fat.  Some supposed “experts” will say avoid salad all together. I say with a little understanding and creativity salad can be a great addition to any nutritional plan.

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Complicating Matters-

While the idea of adding salads to a person’s diet is great, it goes beyond just getting a bag of salad mix and eating it down. A general rule of thumb when it comes to eating salads is “be selective about what you put on”. The more creative you can be with your salads the better a salad can be for you nutritionally. While a plain salad offers little adding a few accoutrements can not only jazz up a salads taste but also it’s nutritional value. Here are a few tips when creating a salad:

  • A range of colors are more nutritional than just green.

The more variety of different colored vegetables that you can put in a salad the better nutritionally it will be for you. Carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans not only add color to your salad but really increase the vitamin and mineral count of a salad.

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  • Up the protein count of your salad.

While adding a variety of vegetables to your salad will help with getting in vitamins and minerals, think about adding some protein to a salad. Protein is an important nutrient no matter what your nutritional goals may be. By adding some to your salad, you are only making achieving your goal a little easier. Things like grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs, nuts, fish, steak, and even a sprinkle of protein powder can be great additions to a salad.

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  • Watch your fat intake.

Too much fat in a salad can turn a healthy meal into a high calorie full fat pig out without a person even realizing it. While dressings can be great tasting and add lots of flavor to a salad, they can also add a lot of calories. Strive to achieve most of your calories from what you actually put in your salad and not on it. Be sure to also use foods like nuts, avocadoes, and oils sparingly. These flavor adders also tend to run high in the fat department. This may not be as big of an issue if your goal is to put on weight but definitely something to watch if your restricting calories.

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  • Try and keep your salads in a mostly vegetative state.

Sure adding accoutrements can do wonders for a salad’s taste but too much of a good thing can be just as detrimental. Things like fried chicken, melted cheese or bacon can improve a salad’s taste but they are also adding a lot of extra unhealthy calories. If you’re going to load your salad up with extras make sure to stick with mostly vegetables. A lot of veggies are calorie dense so you can eat a good amount without adding tons of calories to your diet. A lot of veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are also fiber rich so you stay fuller longer.

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  • Drink water with your salads.

A good hearty salad will contain a lot of vitamins and minerals due to all the vegetables in it. Another thing a good hearty salad will contain is a good amount of fiber. If you are dieting you definitely want to do this one.  By consuming a meal high in fiber with water you stay fuller longer. Since fiber is also not digested by the body, drinking water helps it pass thru the system more easily.

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Now let’s look at five recipes that can really expand a person’s salad eating world.

 

Here is a well rounded salad that gives you a great balance of proteins, carbs and fats.

Grilled Chicken and Pasta Salad

(makes 10 servings)

8 oz grilled chicken breast

10 oz of whole grain pasta

3 pureed cloves of galic

1 cup of red cherry tomatoes (cut in halves)

2 tbsp of chopped chives

4 tbsp of chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp of chopped parsley

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 Tbsp lemon juice

6 cups of spinach

 

  1. In a pan lightly grill the 8 oz of chicken breast. Remove from fire and cut into strips
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water until soft. Immediately rinse in cold water and place in strainer
  3. Place the 6 cups of spinach in large bowl. Add garlic, tomatoes, olives, chives, and basil. Mix all together
  4. Add pasta to spinach and mix again
  5. Add chicken to pasta and spinach and mix
  6. Combine lemon juice and olive oil. Drizzle over chicken and give a final mix
  7. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve

 

Nutritional Info:

Serving size: 8 oz

Calories: 175 grams

Protein: 11 grams

Carbohydrates: 23 grams

Fats: 4 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

This salad packs a protein punch. Most salads are not known for their protein packing ability but this one will give you 18 grams per serving. This salad will also give you a good supply of healthy fats also with its high content of nuts and omega 3 oil.

Protein Packer Salad

(makes 10 servings)

6 cups of spinach

6 cups of romaine lettuce chopped

8 oz grilled chicken breast

4 hard boiled eggs

cup sliced extra lean 5% ham

cup of almonds

cup of cashews

cup cut up carrots

cup tomato sliced up

cup shredded cheese

cup raw broccoli

4 tbsp of omega 3 oil

 

  1. In a pan lightly grill the 8 oz of chicken breast. Remove from fire and cut into strips
  2. Take hard boiled eggs and cut them into slices
  3. In a large bowl mix spinach and romaine
  4. Add broccoli, cashews, almonds, ham, garlic oil and carrots to spinach and lettuce mix
  5. Add in grilled chicken and mix again
  6. add half of the cheese evenly over the mix
  7. Add egg slices over the top
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and give one final mix to the entire thing and serve

 

Nutritional Info:

Serving size: 8 oz

Calories: 265 grams

Protein: 18.5 grams

Carbohydrates: 7 grams

Fats: 19 grams
Fiber: 2.3 grams

Here is a fruit salad that not only is a yummy treat but also packed with immune boosting antioxidant fruits. This salad will also give you a nice little bit of protein.

The Antioxidant Salad

(makes 6 servings)

1 cup of blueberries

1 cup of raspberries

1 cup of red grapes

1 cup of strawberries

1 cup of pineapple chunks

cup of papaya chunks

1 cup sliced mango chunks

2 cups of plain low fat yogurt

4 tbsp of vanilla whey protein powder

 

  1. In a large bowl mix blueberries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, and papaya.
  2. In a separate bowl mix yogurt with whey protein. Mix until one consistency
  3. Pour yogurt and whey mix over fruit
  4. Mix continuously for 2-5 minutes and serve

 

Nutritional Info:

Serving size: 8 oz

Calories: 193 grams

Protein: 14 grams

Carbohydrates: 30 grams

Fats: 2.5 grams

Fiber: 4 grams

Dressing Things Up-

Salads can be a great additive to your diet when you are trying to make nutritional changes. They can be beneficial for trying to gain or take off pounds. The key to properly having salad fit in your nutritional plan, is learning how to balance things. Too skimpy a salad and your short changing your efforts, too big a salad and you’re giving your self more than you bargained for. Use a variety of foods to change and improve the taste of your salads but be sensible about what and how much you’re putting in your salads.

All articles on this site are authored or co-authored by Jarueba Taylor. They are the copy written property of Taylored Nutrition.