Spruce Up Your Salad: Think Beyond the Leafy Greens
Arugula, spinach, micro greens and more – lettuce salads have transformed in recent years. Because of this, the term “salad” now expands to include so much more than our green leafy friends! Lets look at some ways to mix up your salad routine.
Try a Different Salad Base
- Cabbage – red or green – offers a crunchy alternative to traditional lettuce. It has many antioxidant properties including 85% of your daily vitamin c in 1 cup of red cabbage. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and keeping your immune system in top shape. Other benefits include vitamin K, fiber and help fighting inflammation.
- Cruciferous vegetables are another option that may reduce blood markers of inflammation. Types of cruciferous veggies include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- What about radicchio or endive? Radicchio offers a bitter flavor with a burst of vitamin K. Vitamin K has important roles in blood clotting and bone health. This low calorie food offers a great lettuce swap.
Try Warm Foods in Your Salad
- Thinking beyond just raw vegetables, grilling or roasting vegetables can make for a great base, too! In fact some vegetables have enhanced benefits when heated, such as increased antioxidant capacity.
- Drizzle an Italian vinaigrette, peanut sauce or spicy chili to mix up flavors.
- Add a protein like grilled tofu, an egg or steak. The possibilities are endless!
Try a Salad with Added Grains
- Quinoa, barely or farro are alternative grains that are often forgotten. But these grains offer protein and fiber, along with other health benefits. Quinoa offers a light and fluffy addition to a roasted vegetable bowl, whereas farro varieties offer a nutty taste added to traditional greens. There are many high fiber grains out there that help with satiety and balancing blood sugars – give one a try.
So, next time you are asked to bring a salad side dish, or the next time you want to make a great lunch-time salad, think beyond the iceberg lettuce bags. There are many wonderful vegetable options to explore. Think about trying a new vegetable or recipe this next week to expand your salad horizons!
For more info, reach out to a CHI Health Registered Dietitian.
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.