As some of my closest friends will tell you, salad is not food. It is torture in a bowl to those who;
A. Hate veggies
B. Are children
C. Aren’t adventurous
Those are some pretty bold statements, right? I know. But c’mon. Seriously, how can any adult human say they ‘don’t like’ or ‘hate’ salad? Is it all salad or just those without creamy dressing on top? Is it a particular type of lettuce or just the fact that you are literally eating a bowl full of vegetables?
I’ll admit that as a former teenage girl, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad for most of my life. Then about a decade ago, maybe more, I became an actual adult, you know, eating foods that are good for you and finding ways to make them more flavorful. Now, I try to eat a salad every day and if not, every other day.
That’s easy. Salad is packed with fiber thanks to all the raw veggies, which has several amazing benefits. First, the fiber makes you FEEL full which means a calorie-friendly salad is a great tool to put in your weight loss arsenal. Then there’s the fact that every vegetable in your salad has health benefits such as the antioxidant beta-carotene in tomatoes, the dark leafy greens that contain vitamin K along with a host of other antioxidants is another great reason to add a salad to your diet.
Raw veggies can help reduce your risk of cancer, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.
Plus making salad is…EASY.
All you need to do is grab a handful of your favorite salad veggies, or better yet, try out some new ones and see what strikes your fancy. Above is a spiced chickpea salad with corn and that only out of the ordinary ingredients I used were the chickpeas and corn, otherwise it was your basic lettuce (butter), tomatoes, scallions, black olives and bell peppers. I added some curry and turmeric to the salad dressing and a quick and easy, calorie friendly lunch.
The best thing about a yummy vegan salad for lunch? You can splurge (occasionally) on a creamy yogurt based dressing…if you make it yourself. You won’t get the same calorie content if you slather ranch or blue cheese on your veggies. Personally, I prefer a quick oil-free vinaigrette because it adds a TON of flavor without all the calories.
Then there are the days where you know you need some fresh, raw veg in your diet but you’re feeling lazy. Bored. Not in the mood to eat healthy. What do you do then?
I recently came across some delicious beefsteak tomatoes, totally out of season but flavorful nonetheless. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any fresh basil so I made do with the dried stuff, added a few shavings of vegan cheese and created a quick & easy Caprese salad…sort of.
The photo isn’t all that pretty, I know, but it was delicious. All you need is tomatoes, cheese, basil, salt & pepper and garlic granules and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was the perfect side dish to a chickpea burger.
I like to call this a Happy & Healthy Meal.
But don’t go patting me on the back just yet because one of my vegan salad hacks is to add fresh veggies wherever I can and one of my favorite places to do it is Asian dishes. Add a handful of lettuce tossed in scallions and rice vinegar to a noodle or curry dish. But I find it easiest with Mexican cuisines.
Not technically a salad, but these nachos have raw lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic (in the fresh salsa & guacamole). Sometimes when I really want to clear toxins from my body–thanks to too much junk food or booze–I’ll add cucumber and shaved carrots to my nachos or tacos, or burrito/fajita bowls.
The point is, sometimes your body just needs a little salad to keep it functioning like the well-oiled machine it is, so make sure to give your body the fuel it needs.