I get a lot of emails from readers and this one warrants an article.
I hate to trouble you with a silly salad question, but I’ve never eaten salad on a regular basis before joining Flylady, and I don’t know who else I can ask! I have been buying three heads of lettuce a week, tearing them up, and storing them in plastic baggies to eat a little bit at a time (instead of buying those prepackaged salad bags, which are expensive). But should I wash the greens before they go in the bag? They stay really wet when I do this, and I’m not sure if this helps preserve them, or if it might help turn them wilted and slimy. Thanks for your advice. We’ve been eating SO much better since we found you! –Susan
Well Susan, let me help you out. I don’t have much of an opinion on kitschy kitchen gadgets, but here’s one gadget that you should make a point of getting: a salad spinner! I am a big believer in eating salads, but it’s no fun eating mushy salads. The spinner makes the diff!
I have noticed that when I’m eating salads on a regular basis, my skin is nicer, my weight is better kept under control and I just plain feel better. As a matter of fact, if you eat one salad a day with a meal, you can lose up to 15 pounds a year. It’s a matter of volume and nutrition—the more you fill up on better, more voluminous healthier foods, the weight comes off (as long as you’re not overdoing it).
I serve salad almost every time we eat dinner at my house. I also throw a bowl of those baby carrots on the table to pass around. As a rule, we don’t eat enough raw stuff and salads are one delicious way to make that happen.
Here is my #1 thing to look for when making a healthy, nutritious salad:
A good rule of thumb for building a good salad should be COLOR. Color is a great indicator of what’s ahead: good nutrition or near-empty calories. The more vibrant the color, the healthier it is.
Take a look at Iceberg lettuce. It’s pale green and white. The iceberg lettuce’s value is mostly the water it carries. Fiber is minimal and nutrition almost non-existent. This is not the basis for a good, healthy, and nutritious salad.
The first place to start is with GREEN. Green like spinach, salad greens, or romaine lettuces–all wonderful examples of what green should look like. The color is there and so is the nutrition.
Next, look for RED. Tomatoes come to mind. Vine-ripened and full of vitamin C, tomatoes also contain the important phytochemical lycopene that helps fight cancer.
ORANGE or YELLOW? How about some colorful bell pepper or (when in season) summer squash? Carrots are fantastic sources of beta-carotene, a pre-vitamin for vitamin A. Beta carotene has so many important functions, but the best part about beta-carotene is that it will convert into only as much vitamin A as the body needs so there’s no worry about taking in too much. You know what happens if you have too much beta-carotene? You turn orange! My son was orange for the first and second years of his life–he LOVED sweet potatoes.
This is all common sense nutrition here, but the point is to get you thinking next time you’re meandering your way through the produce section at the grocery store. Think in vivid, living color–you NEED the nutrition and so does your salad!
PS–We have some great main dish salad recipes featured in our Bounty of Salads ebook bundle!
Here’s a BONUS recipe:
Southwest Taco Salad
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 pound ground beef
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 large avocado pitted and cubed
- 1 large red onion chopped
- 4 roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 medium jalapeno seeded and chopped
- 1 cup of your favorite salsa make sure it’s Paleo-approved!
- 1 large lime juiced
- Heat ghee in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add next 9 ingredients (beef through oregano).
- Stir and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Drain any grease if any.
- In a large salad bowl, combine all remaining ingredients (romaine through lime), add beef and toss.
- Serve immediately.