I recently visited Amsterdam for the first time. What an incredible city to get lost in. The biking, the canals, the food! I had a few recommended lunch and dinner spots written down from a couple foodie friends. One being a new salad bar. Salad bar? Sounds kind of like something you find in the food court of the shopping mall right? Wrong. It was one of the best lunches I’ve had while in the city. This leads us to the nutrition challenge for the week.
Time to get creative with your greens! Why? Because a salad can be so incredibly satisfying (and beautiful) if you know how to build it.
Greens (aka Leaves)
The base which should make the bulk of your green salad. Spinach, romaine, rainbow chard, kale, or a lovely mix from your local farmers market. Up to you, go wild.
Note: If you’re using a more bitter fibrous green such as chard or kale, I like to cut off the ends, roll up the leaves, and chop horizontally to create thin strips of greens. Give the greens a little massage in some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. A lovely salad base!
This is where you get creative with colour and texture. Try shredding the starchier veggies such as carrots, purple or golden beets, summer squash, and sweet potato. Shredded zucchini and fennel are delicious too. As for your juicier veggies, try dicing cucumber or quartering small cherry tomatoes.
If you enjoy a little sweetness in your salads, having it come from fresh fruit is a healthy option. Low glycemic fruit such as berries, diced pear, and shredded apple are great options.
Grains are a nice option for adding bulk to a salad, especially if you are enjoying your salad as a meal. Millet, red quinoa, wild rice are personal favourites, but any gluten-free grain could work. Try cooking a big batch at the beginning or mid week and keep in the fridge.
If you are choosing an animal source of protein, it is important to go for free-range and organic to ensure you’re getting a good source. The same goes for those that enjoy adding cheese. Try organic goats feta, as this can be easier to digest for some versus cows feta.When it comes to plant-based protein, try sprouted beans such as chickpeas, mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils. They are incredibly satisfying and filling.
The cherry on top! I’m a big fan of the healthy fats, but in moderation and try not to skimp on quality so that you know you’re getting the highest amount of essential fatty acids. Some sources are diced up avocado, chopped nuts (lightly dry roasted or sprouted raw), or a homemade dressing made of extra virgin olive oil or unrefined sesame oil.
Note here: Most salads can keep well in the fridge, just wait to toss in the dressing until you are ready to serve.
Make sure to share some of our favourite flavour combinations in the comments below. The possibilities are endless all year round. Light and cooling in the summer, hearty and cozy in the winter.