Summer is such a great season to enjoy salads brimming with color and flavor. But knowing what to include (or not include) in your salad is key for achieving a balanced meal that doesn’t go under or over in calories. Use our guide below to build a healthful, well-balanced salad every time.
2 cups of greens: Take advantage of the many different flavors of greens to keep your salads interesting. We love using a combo of baby spinach and arugula or kale, mixed greens with chopped endive and radicchio, or a spring mix of baby lettuces. Choose whichever greens you like most, but don’t be afraid to try new ones!
1 cup of colorful veggies and/or fruits: Aim to include 3 to 5 different colors in your salad. For instance, use yellow peppers, red tomatoes, orange carrots, green arugula, roasted red beets, and black beans. The more colorful your salad, the more health benefits you’ll be getting from it in the form of antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant compounds that protect plants and pass that protection on to us!) And don’t be afraid to add fruit to this category. Fruit adds more color, nutrition and flavor to salads. Try grilled peaches, chopped apples, dried cherries, fresh strawberries or blueberries.
1-2 servings of whole grains: Depending on your calorie needs, you’ll want to incorporate 100-200 calories worth of whole grains or starchy vegetables into your salad. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick to the lower end of this range. If you are maintaining weight or extremely active, you’ll need to consume closer to 200 calories. Some examples of healthy carbohydrate choices for your salad are: roasted or baked sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pita, whole wheat toast, winter squashes, wheat berries, and bulgur wheat.
Make sure to include…
3-5 ounces of protein: Protein is essential to meals for satisfaction and shouldn’t be left out of salads! There are many lean protein choices for both vegetarians and carnivores. Here are some examples we use often: roasted/grilled chicken breast, sliced turkey, grilled shrimp or scallops, salmon, tuna, crab (canned or fresh), and lean roast beef. Vegetarian options: edamame (out of the shell), beans (black, white, kidney, chickpeas, lentils), tofu, and tempeh.
And don’t forget…
Fats: Avocado, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), and vegetable oil (olive, canola, sesame).
A general rule of thumb for fats is to use about 1 Tbsp. in your salad. You can use all of your fats in the dressing, or break it up so that you can have some dressing and some other fats like nuts, olives, or avocado. For instance, if your dressing includes 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, you can still include 1 tablespoon of nuts or seeds or 1/8 of an avocado (equivalent to 1 teaspoon of oil). Fats are an important part of your salad because they not only make it taste great but will also help you feel full faster and stay satisfied longer. Many healthy fats are also packed with antioxidants; and all fats help your body absorb nutrients from the other foods in your salad.
And last, but certainly not least, here’s one of our favorite salad combos this summer!
Spinach salad with grilled peaches, salmon, and citrus vinaigrette: Top two cups of baby spinach with one 5oz pouch of Bumble Bee Premium Skinless and Boneless Pink Salmon, 1/2 of a sliced grilled peach, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, 1/2 cup sliced cucumber, 1/4 cup sliced red onion, and 1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil whisked with 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons orange juice, and 1 teaspoon honey.
What is your favorite summer salad recipe? Leave us a comment below!