It’s still January, and if your New Year’s Resolutions are going strong and eating healthy is part of them, this should still be a focus point. Today I am giving you a few ideas for salads and new ingredients to throw in them. They will increase your salad’s nutritional value while you add quality contents, including superfoods. Diversifying your ingredients is also a way to help you increase the amount of food groups and balance of your salad. After all, eating just vegetables is not enough: you need to add other food items for varied nutrients and vitamins. So, let’s jump right in with 5 new ideas for your salad:
- Varied seeds
One of my favorite ways to add protein and long-lasting energy to your salad is to add in some seeds. Flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds are all very small and work best if you provide a dressing for them to stick to. One of my favorites is to drizzle a simple olive oil over my veggies, so that they are sticky enough for a small coating of seeds. I also sometimes pre-mix chia seeds in a bowl of olive oil to pour on my salad for later if I’m planning to eat on the go. Remember, larger seeds are also an option to throw into your salads and most of the time you can go dressing-less if you want to.
- Dried fruit
This is a fun and kind of different idea! Most of the time salads are one texture and very watery, and sometimes, especially in an all-vegetable salads, you are wishing for a different flavor and texture. Dried fruit is the perfect thing to do that with. You can use either regular dried fruits or freeze dried fruits, whichever one you prefer. One of my favorite things is to throw in is a dash of freeze dried peas – it is a very nutritious vegetable, but feels and almost tastes different from a regular pea.
These are one of my favorite nuts because they are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are very helpful in your heart function. Walnuts are great when they are added to a salad because they provide a fun, different flavor. The texture is also an important part of what makes this ingredient great in a salad: it is quite crunchy and contrasts starkly with the vegetables. That said, it pairs well with them too and creates a contrast that will really give your salad a spark of individuality. (Quick tip: they are tasty too if you crush them up with a fork before adding them!)
- Pine nuts
Keeping along with our nut ingredients, pine nuts are a great source of protein, iron and magnesium and an excellent dash of exclusivity for your vegetables. Pine nuts are known to be used heavily for calorie reduction. They are very dense, meaning that they give the consumer a large amount of nutrients in very few calories. If you are trying to lose weight via the calorie reduction system or diet plan, pine nuts are often a popular choice. Plus, they really spike up your salad! They are small but not too small to fall to the bottom and you will find that the flavors of a typical salad and pine nuts work well together.
- Couscous and other grains
Salads don’t always have to be those typical food groups you think of: greens, dairy, protein and vegetables. They can be more than that: putting grains such as quinoa, couscous or rice in a salad is not unheard of, and it really helps turn your minimalistic salad into a full-on, nutritious, energy-filled meal that will help you get through the day. Especially whole grains provide fiber, vital nutrients and slow carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body in the form of glucose. Even though avoiding carbohydrates is one of the crazes these days, we all still need some nutritious carbs in our diets, especially as dancers that exercise constantly. So don’t hold back from throwing some (whole) grains in your salad!
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