Ah, there’s nothing more refreshing than a delicious + nourishing salad on a hot Summer’s day! Especially when it’s packed with whole food ingredients providing healthy sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and some vitamin/mineral boosts to keep us well and satisfied. I think the thing I love most about a fresh salad is the versatility and ability to make it with a wide variety of foods. A nutritious salad can be easily enjoyed as a simple side dish to pair with dinner, or as a meal jam packed with a variety of nutrient dense whole food ingredients. When we choose whole foods over highly processed foods, there’s no way our salad can go wrong!
I have a few essentials I keep in mind for curating a salad. If my salad does not include these essentials, it’s incomplete!
The 5 Salad Essentials:
- Base – Laying the foundation. I like to use dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, or a mix of these together for my salad base. Dark leafy greens are a great source of Vitamin C + K, calcium, folate, and fiber!
- Vibrancy + variety – I’m talking your orange/yellow, green, red, and blue/purple fruits and veggies. Vibrant foods deliver a number of beneficial nutrients. So load up on them! I’ve prepared a list below as a guideline for colorful vegetables + fruits.
- Nutrient density – Salads scream to be healthy, so keep them whole and nutritious by avoiding any highly processed foods. If your salad is going to be your main meal, be sure to load it with a variety of healthy carbs, fats, fiber, and protein to make it complete.
- Sprinkles – These are healthy boosts (seeds, nuts, legumes, herbs, microgreens, etc) that deliver extra oomf to you and your plate. We all need a little extra oomf in our lives! I personally love to sprinkle my salads with raw pumpkin seeds or raw whole cashews.
- Dressing – This truly makes or breaks a salad. To keep it simple, homemade dressings always win. If you’re opting for a store bought dressing, check out your local health foods store or the health foods section of your general grocery store to find a healthier dressing. I’ve listed below a few healthy tips to keep in mind when making or purchasing a dressing. One of my favourite store bought brands is Rawfoodz salad dressings. Their dressings are so delicious, raw, organic, and free of preservatives/soy/gluten/nuts (allergy friendly).
Vibrant Veggie/Fruit Ideas
- Yellow + Orange // orange pepper, carrot, yam, oranges, lemon, mango, grapefruit…
- Green // zucchini, cucumber, micro greens, spinach, kale, avocado, green apple, kiwi…
- Red // red pepper, beets, tomato, radish, red apples, raspberries, strawberries…
- Blue + Purple // purple cabbage, purple asparagus, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries…
Healthy Salad Dressing Ideas:
- Healthy oils // extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil…
- Vinegar/Acidity // apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon or lime juice…
- Flavour // sea salt, black pepper, onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, basil, mint, parsley…
Vibrant Detox Salad
A delicious, detoxifying, and nutrient rich salad packed with healthy fats, fiber, and plant protein.
Base: 2 cups kale, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, juice from half a lemon
For this salad in particular, I used RawFoodz Sea-Zar Serenity dressing, it’s one of my favourite store bought dressings! For your dressing, keep in mind that it can make or break a healthful salad. It’s best to opt for one that’s heart healthy and contains clean ingredients. Try experimenting with homemade dressings by using some of my salad dressing tips I listed above.
Do you have a favourite homemade dressing? If so, I would love to hear what ingredients you love to use in your homemade dressings!
Photos by the amazingly talented Kristen of LoveCraft Photography.