When you need nourishment, but quick and easy execution because you have little time for lunch prep - this is the ultimate salad for you. Let's talk salad first... it is very common for an individual to think of a salad as eating greens with a little dressing. While this would be extremely quick to whip up it is also depressing and not nutritionally dense! You will be hungry moments down the road which will throw off your concentration, energy and productivity. You cannot afford that as a busy professional.
Let's do salads right! Salads are a beautiful way to kick up your vegetable intake, healthy fats and protein intake as well! I will let you in on all the tips and tricks : how to make the most nutritious and delicious salads every time!
How to Assemble the Ultimate Salad for Busy People:
1. Always start with a GREEN base
This can be kale, spinach, romaine or broccoli. Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, a multitude of vitamins (such as vitamin A, C, K and folate), minerals and fibre. When you feed your cells with all the micronutrients they need they will be satisfied and you will not experience hunger signals an hour later ... essentially leading to overeating. You could be eating 10,000 calories a day but if you are not supplying your cells with the nutrients they need you will ALWAYS be starving on a cellular level.
QUICK TIP: buy greens that have already been washed so that you can drop a handful into your bowl without any prep!
2. Add any other vegetables that you desire to consume in the salad.
The more variety the more nutrients you will receive. Sprouts, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato or green beans just to name a few. If the vegetables are raw they will hold more nutrients and active enzymes than cooked veg. However adding grilled zucchini or roasted sweet potato will add elevated flavours to any salad! Aim for the most colourful salad that you can create when choosing vegetables to add.
QUICK TIP: sprouts, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas are 3 veggies that do not take any prep (peeling, chopping) if you are really in a pinch for time.
3. A healthy fat is a must in salads.
What I love to do is add avocado and mash it into the greens so that I do not need a dressing. Avocados are excellent sources of healthy fats and consuming 1/2 small avocado will give you one serving. Another healthy fat would be a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) or a handful of nuts or seeds. Having 2 servings of fat in a salad is optimal. For myself, avocado and nuts/seeds for crunch is my go to!
QUICK TIP: buying frozen avocado and placing it on the salad is the quickest way to add that creamy fat. As long as you are not eating the salad within 5 minutes it will thaw and bring the perfect balance to your salad.
4. Adding a fruit of some sorts will liven up the salad!
My personal favourite is adding chopped strawberries or pomegranate seeds, but any berry, apple or mandarin orange will do! Just a touch of sweetness will excite your taste buds leaving you wanting more.
QUICK TIP: Toss in blueberries or pomegranate seeds for a quick no prep option.
5. Incorporating protein to a meal is important for body repair and hunger satiety.
The protein in the salad is what really can make this dish a meal. Adding enough protein will keep the body satisfied for hours at a time and energy up! In my opinion a plant based protein is always the best way to go. Plant based proteins are easier for the body to digest and absorb (more bio-available) than animal based proteins. Chickpeas, beans, tofu, and tempeh are my personal favourite proteins to add to my salad. Tuna, eggs and chicken are my secondary choices.
QUICK TIP: draining and rinsing canned beans or chickpeas may be the easiest, no prep protein to add. Alternatively, any left over protein from last nights dinner can be the perfect pre-cooked topper!
OPTIONAL: adding cheese to a salad is like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae - optional but a lovely finish. Whether you would prefer to crumble a bit of feta or shred some cheddar or even spread a little goat cheese, it will complete the most nutritious and delicious salad!
To recap, a salad needs greens, added veg, a healthy fat, a crunch, fruit, protein and always optional cheese to go from fine to fantastic!
Another tip is to chop all the ingredients in a salad with a knife or food processor. This way you will get every ingredient in one bite and if you add certain vegetables that are super nutritious but not very delicious (for example Brussels sprouts) you will consume without tasting!
So there you have it. The ultimate salad for busy people!