From super salads to seeds that pack a vitamin punch Constance Halaveli Executive Chef, Glen Cooper, gives his top 6 tips to navigating the salad bar and eating your way to a healthier you.
1.Choose dark greens
Start your salad off right by going for a base of dark leafy greens, such as spinach or romaine leaves. One packed cup will give you more than half of the recommended daily value of vitamin A as well as nearly 100% of your vitamin K. Leafy greens also supply vitamin C, folate and fibre. Lighter greens such as iceberg do not offer nearly the same nutritional value and are mostly made of water.
2. Include colourful veggies
Add one cup of the most colourful, bright fresh vegetables in the salad bar. Raw is best. Aim for carrots, broccoli, beets, ripe tomatoes, and bell peppers – they add more fibre and vitamins compared to pale coloured vegetables like cucumbers or celery. Steer clear of vegetables soaked with mayonnaise or creamy dressings – they add saturated fat and calories to your meal.
3. Choose lean proteins
Chickpeas and kidney beans are one of the best sources of protein on the salad bar. Add one-half cup of beans to your greens for a protein and fibre rich meal. Grilled chicken breast is another option, as is plain tuna (packed in water, not oil). Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent protein option – opt for more white than yolk to cut fat and calories.
4. Mix it up with crunch and zest
Adding walnuts, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds will give you extra crunch without the added saturated (and possibly trans) fat of croutons and crunchy Asian noodles. Add one heaped tablespoon for a healthy dose of heart-healthy nutrients and fats. For an extra tang, add one tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese. A little Parmesan goes a long way in flavour as compared to other shredded cheeses, such as cheddar or mozzarella.
5. Extra garnishes
Adding fresh fruit to your salad is a healthy sweet option, but only add about one-half cup because the sugar can still add up. Avoid canned fruits that come in thick syrups like mandarin oranges or peaches and opt for grapes, orange slices, chunks of watermelon or other melon, and fresh berries.
6. Dressing your salad
One of the most crucial ingredients of your salad is the dressing. Avoid creamy mayonnaise-based dressings because they are high in fat and calories. Even low-fat or fat-free salad dressings are loaded with sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. The healthiest option is to dress your salad with a mix of extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper, using only enough to lightly coat your greens. Add a little, toss your salad to ensure even distribution, add a little more, if needed.
Looking for recipe inspiration?
Check out this delicious salad of Spinach, chorizo and baby potatoes served with sous vide poached egg on the Cook Sister blog.
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