There’s just something about summertime, heat, and salads that goes perfect together! (And BBQ, beer, burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, and on and on, but these things aren’t going to help trim your waistline for your bathing suit, ha, ha!) The thought of eating a hot meal while it’s 95 degrees out just doesn’t appeal to me right now. I want something cold, crisp, fresh, and yummy to fill my belly, which is why I think salads are the perfect meal in summertime!
There are so many different things you can put on a salad to change it up so that it never gets boring. You can do a chopped salad with tons of veggies. A Waldorf salad with some delicious sweetness from the apples. A strawberry and walnut salad. And the list goes on and on. A salad can be as creative as you want. And of course, you can change up the flavor with your choice of dressing.
The perfect salad has a mix of greens, protein, fiber, and a little added sweetness to it. I’ve listed a lot of choices below for each category. Pick a few from each one and make your perfect summer salad that’s both delicious and super filling!
If you’re like me, crunchy salads are the absolute best! I love me some spinach in my salad, especially since it’s packed with vitamins, but it is not crunchy. A plain spinach salad just doesn’t do it for me. I like to add chopped romaine lettuce to my spinach so that I’m getting the perfect crunch with all the goodies found in spinach. You can even add iceberg lettuce to the mix for even more crunch. Just be sure that the bulk of your salad isn’t iceberg, as it doesn’t pack too much nutrition in it. (Also see my post about a healthy green protein shake.)
Here’s where you can really bulk up your salad for very few calories and lots of fiber! You can add: Broccoli slaw, celery, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, yellow squash, cucumber, asparagus, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes (a fruit, I know), onions, green beans, sprouts, and green cabbage. I like to chop my veggies up so that I don’t have to take huge bites and just about every bite I take has different veggies in it!
You can add chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna, shrimp, or salmon to your salad to really keep you full. You can add them plain, or play around with seasonings to give your salad a great flavor!
Black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas help to bulk up your salad with extra fiber, which will keep you full longer.
You can also add green olives, black olives, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, feta cheese, chopped egg, avocado, cottage cheese, and/or jalapenos to your salad. Just make sure that you don’t add a ton of extra calories to your salad. A small amount of the above really goes a long way!
Adding some berries to your salad is a great way to give it a sweeter flavor. You can add: Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges, cranberries, pineapple, apples, and pears.
Make sure not to go overboard on the dressing! I like just plain old oil and vinegar as my dressing. Another favorite is Bragg Healthy Vinaigrette, which is their apple cider vinegar with olive oil. Bragg has a good selection on healthy salad dressings, so try one the next time you’re at the grocery store!
If I’m in the mood for something different, I always go for a full-fat dressing so that I’m not adding a lot of extra sugar and other chemicals (found in fat-free dressings) in my body. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for bleu cheese dressing at times. It’s just SO good!
The above has been my dinner lately and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. If you eat lots of salads, is there an ingredient that I forgot to mention that you really like? If so, please share in the comments.