Ask most Americans to describe a salad and they will craft a picture of a lettuce heavy base, a few pieces of broccoli, some shredded carrots and perhaps a few slices of chicken breast. They’ll top it all off with some crunchy croutons and a creamy dressing poured out of a bottle or squeezed from a package. Better choice than cereal? Of course. Nutritionally dense? Eh. It’s a decent start.
When I construct a salad, I begin with a foundation of every type of dark leafy green I can find. I’ll feature spicy arugula, mild spinach, crunchy chard, a variety of kale and so forth. These greens saturate me with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals, fiber…the health benefits are endless.
Next, I pile on fresh, raw, organic veggies. Every salad I make includes the following staples:
- Cauliflower – connected to cancer prevention
- Beets – reduces inflammatory compounds in the blood, reduces chances of liver disease
- Onions – protection for the heart and blood vessels
- Water chestnuts – 10% each of the daily recommended value in vitamin B6, potassium (350 to 360 mg per ½ cup), copper, riboflavin and manganese.
- Radish – cleanses the digestive tract by stimulating digestive juices and enhancing bile flow
- Jicama – rich in minerals and vitamin C
- Cherry tomatoes – reduced risk of heart disease
- Carrots – rich in beta carotene, which protects against macular degeneration and senile cataracts.
- Broccoli – 100 gram serving of broccoli provides more than 150% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C
- Celery – anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants
I pack my salads with as many veggies as I can get my hands on. Additionally, I aim to include a variety of beans.
Legumes that I add include:
- Edamame – a complete protein (one of the few from plants)
- Black eyed peas –rich in potassium.
- Kidney beans – stabilize blood sugar levels after a meal
- Black beans – good source of vitamin B6 (folate)
- Lentils – high in soluble fiber, reduces blood cholesterol
I’ll follow with an animal protein. I’m a carnivore at my core and can only stand so much of this rabbit food. Chicken, fish, steak, hell, if it roamed the land or sea, I’m adding it in.
I’m not going to waste all these phenomenal health benefits by blanketing my veggies with cheap processed dressing. Those bottles are filled with added sugar, preservatives and other nasty chemicals. I indulge myself with the world’s creamiest dressing – organic blue cheese crumbles, hummus, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
No packages, no preservatives, just protein filled, nutritionally dense, soul fulfilling goodness. No wonder my grocery bills are significantly higher than my house payment.