The summer season is all about fresh, vibrant ingredients showcased in effortless recipes (that don’t require the oven!). Here are my five simple steps to building a better summer salad that looks and tastes good while helping you get the most nutrient bang for your buck.
1. Foundation: leafy greens
Leafy greens are brimming with vitamins, minerals, and free-radical fighting antioxidants. They are rich in both types of fiber, which help lower bad cholesterol in the blood stream and keep blood sugar levels stable. Vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, and antioxidants are just a few of the standouts in these superstar veggies.
Favorites: romaine, kale, swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens, spinach
2. Chopped seasonal vegetables
These are a summer salad non-negotiable- added for some texture, crunch, and amped up nutrition. Enhanced flavor and nutrition coupled with affordability is associated with eating in season. In the summer I take seasonality and hydration into account when choosing chopped veggies.
What’s in season: bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, radishes, summer squash, tomatoes
3. Protein for staying power
While animal-based proteins are ideal in terms of providing all essential amino acids, benefit can be gained from choosing plant-based sources, as well. Choosing beans plus a grain is a plant-based option for building a complete protein.
Animal-based protein: chicken, turkey, tuna
Plant-based protein: tofu, beans plus a grain
4. Seasonal fruit for an added touch of sweetness
The star of the summer salad is seasonal fruit. Think berries when it comes to warmer months- or whatever is being sold at your local farmer’s market. I’ve been enjoying cherries and watermelon, in particular.
What’s in season: cherries, blackberries, blueberries, apricots, grapes, kiwifruit, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon
5. Healthy fat source for dressing
Many vitamins provided by vegetables are fat-soluble which means they are best absorbed in the presence of a little dietary fat. Choosing your fat wisely is key because not all fats are as health-supportive as others. When choosing a dressing, homemade is best. I recommend the following:
Simple balsamic vinaigrette: extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Tahini-based dressing: tahini and lemon juice
Avocado-based dressing: blended avocado, garlic, lemon, extra virgin olive oil
The best part about building a summer salad is that the combinations are endless. Have fun with it and share your creations with me on instagram!