credits: Shannon Farrell
We’ve all been there. After a weekend of too much takeout and vino, we vow to get our healthy eating act together. But when Seamless and sauvignon blanc is an option, plain salad can seem so… unsatisfying. “Salad is the classic diet food that is often perceived as a punishment for overindulgence,” says nutrition and weight loss coach Jena la Flamme. “But that doesn’t have to be the case. Salads can be extremely satisfying.”
Here are la Flamme’s seven tips for adding extra deliciousness to your leafy greens, while also keeping it incredibly healthy. You’ll never be bored by salad again—we promise.
Be Particular with Your Greens
Since raw greens are the base of the salad, make it something you like. “A great salad can start with a favorite green or a medley of favorites—arugula, baby spinach, kale, romaine, and mixed spring greens among them,” Jena says.
They’re not just for the birds. Seeds add extra crunch and flavor, and are a great source of protein. Skip croutons and opt for a couple of la Flamme’s favorites: sesame seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Pack in the Protein
Adding protein to your salad is one of the best things you can do for your body—and your fitness. “Research shows that eating protein can boost the rate at which your body builds new muscle,” says la Flamme. Protein is also beneficial for people looking to lose weight. “The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest, therefore supporting lasting weight loss.” Add beans, cheese, chicken, fish, quinoa, or tofu to your greens for a delicious boost.
Add Something Sweet
Greens often taste bitter, and if you are used to more processed foods, some of the flavors of raw vegetables might be unfamiliar. Jena recommends adding some sweetness: beets, carrots, corn and fresh peas are great places to start. When it comes to the dressing, she simply adds a touch of natural sweetener to the oil and vinegar. Think agave syrup, maple syrup, raw honey, or stevia.
Get a Daily Serving of Fruit
Another simple way to add something sweet to your salad: drop in a handful of fruit. “Don’t worry about the rule that says we shouldn’t eat fruits and vegetables together. Fruits are a great complement to salad greens,” says la Flamme. Try apples, pears, grape, mango slices, tomatoes, raisins, and dried cranberries.
Add a Little Spice
If you’re feeling daring, add garlic, green onions, daikon radish, mustard greens, or red onion. They’re not only tasty, they’re also beneficial. “Some of these vegetables also have properties that dissolve fat, mucus, and cholesterol, so you derive therapeutic benefits, as well as flavor,” Jena says.
Make Oil the Core of Your Dressing
A cold-pressed oil created using minimal heat and no chemicals retains the highest amount of nutrients and will be more flavorful. Opt for one of la Flamme’s favorite oils: almond, avocado, peanut, olive, or flaxseed.