How to create the perfect, healthy salad

Salad is often looked at as one of the healthiest meals. There are so many ways to do salad and they can be healthy with just a few simple ingredients but can also have a cornucopia of vegetables, beans, legumes, and the list goes on. Salads have long been one of my favourite meals or side dishes and growing up, they were always part of dinner in my household. I just love how salad can be done in so many ways and yet can taste so different each time. Superfood salad from Nourish Bistro in Banff While salad is generally seen as a super healthy meal and is often looked to by people who are trying to lose weight, many salads aren’t really all that healthy. It breaks my heart to see someone who thinks they are making a healthy choice by not choosing the cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant when in actuality the salad isn’t really better at all. There are so many hidden ingredients in dressing and the lettuce is likely not very fresh and laced with preservatives. My opinion is to stay away from anything in a box, bag or foods that are processed and to stay far, far away from fast food restaurants. Check out this video comparing fast food options:

And, while I am not saying that you should get the burger instead, it just shows you how unhealthy these fast food salads are and how they aren’t helping anyone who is wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All that said, with a little bit of planning, it is easy to make sure your salads are healthy and to have a salad for lunch every day for work. For this, I spoke with my good friend Enza Ward, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, about tips to create a perfect salad. “There are many ways to make a quick and easy healthy salad and the best part is you can clear out your refrigerator while you’re at it,” Enza says. “You can also really focus on making it both delicious and nutritious by adding in a few key ingredients.” “If you’re making your salad as a meal and not just a side, then it’s a good idea to think in terms of having the right balance of each carbs, protein, and [healthy] fats included.” Here are Enza’s tips for creating the perfect, healthy salad and for more information or to contact Enza go to The salad:

  • Add just one or a mix of fresh leafy dark greens to give rich color and provide the most nutritional impact, (leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, endive, spinach, kale, arugula, tatsoi, mizuna and watercress, butter, oakleaf, mache).
  • Because many greens (spinach, kale, collard greens) are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, I highly recommend going with Organic greens to reduce your intake of pesticides.
  • For a layering of flavors, think pairing stronger tasting greens with sweeter ones (bitter, peppery, sweet).

Bitter: frisee, radicchio, escarole and Belgian endive Peppery: Arugula, tatsoi, mizuna and watercress Sweet: butter or Bibb, oakleaf, mache and romaine, spinach

  • Add fruits and/or veggies for texture and color. You’ll have a pretty salad and one with antioxidant power! (Red or yellow peppers, berries, radishes, carrots, apples, oranges, kiwi, celery, and cukes, to list a few).
  • Add a healthy boost of protein and fat (nuts & seeds are a good choice, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and avocado).
  • Many greens now come pre-washed however, if you’re like me I still like to wash my greens. Using a salad spinner and a little cold water soak is the best way to clean and freshen up your greens.

The Dressing: Keep it simple and truly healthy when it comes to salad dressings and make your own. You only need a few ingredients to make a delicious, clean and flavourful dressing. I do recommend however, avoiding unhealthy rancid oils which studies show form oxidization and inflammation in the body. If possible, invest in the best quality oil you can. Look for oils that are organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed, and packaged in dark glass bottles. These methods provide better protection from heat, light, and oxygen. Super simple Basic dressing: 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, Camelina oil, Avocado oil, Walnut oil, Hemp oil, Flax oil, Coconut oil, Sesame oil Vinegars: Apple cider, Balsamic Flavorings: Salty: Sea salt, tamari light, nama shoyu or kelp flakes Sweet: Honey, maple syrup, stevia Creamy: Cashews (make a great base for a creamy dressing) optionally you can use any nut or seed butter like almond, hemp or tahini. Herbs: Fresh herbs and toppings are an easy way to add interesting flavors to the mix; my favorite is garlic and turmeric. Other herbs and spices can be added such as basil, dill, mint, onion, paprika Other: Lemon, Dijon mustard, salsa, nutritional yeast (for a cheesy flavor) Superfoods: Spirulina, chlorella, algae

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