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How to Guarantee That Your Salad is Actually Healthy

HELLO SALAD LOVERS

healthy-saladsIf you’ve found your way to this post, you probably consider salads your all-time favorite food.

Okay, okay…maybe that’s taking things a little far.

At the very least, you’ve made your way to this post because you’re considering eating salad for it’s highly regarded health benefits.

I’d like to help you guarantee that the salad on your plate is actually worth the time and the effort.

And if you’re anything like my boyfriend, I’d like to give you healthy salad ideas to outweigh the misery that accompanies eating a plate of vegetables.

“HEALTHY” SALADS AT RESTAURANTS

I’m sure you’ve been to chain restaurants and skimmed over the “healthy” section. It usually boasts of elaborate salads like the Asian inspired chicken salad with crispy wonton strips, or a fried chicken salad smothered in ranch dressing.

Super healthy, right?

The problem is that these restaurants are appealing to the notion that salad is healthy, but filling your plate with…well, garbage.

FOR EXAMPLE…

The oils they fry your wonton strips and chicken in are highly processed and cause inflammation in your body (read why inflammation is a problem).

The plates are full of processed and refined grain products.

The meat is conventionally raised and full of inflammatory and toxic compounds, like antibiotics and growth hormones.

And finally, the greens and the veggies (which many regard as the healthiest pieces of a salad) are sprayed and coated with harmful pesticides that are unlikely to be fully rinsed off in the kitchen.

While I obviously don’t love chain restaurant salads for your health, I’m not advising that you swear off restaurant salads altogether.

TIPS:

⦁ Look for restaurants that offer locally sourced produce and meat.
⦁ Skip any deep-fried products.
⦁ Avoid highly processed grain toppings (think croutons and wonton strips).
⦁ Choose oil and vinegar instead of bottled dressing.

If you have the time and a kitchen, I recommend throwing together your own salad at home.

This allows you to create exactly what you like, and gives you complete control over the quality of your ingredients.

CREATING YOUR OWN HEALTHY SALAD

The same rules that you would follow at a restaurant apply here, in addition to the following recommendations:

Choose a variety of green, red, orange, and yellow organic produce when possible. Eating across the spectrum of colored vegetables helps to ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients.

Top with grass-finished meat or wild seafood (bonus points for all of the omega-3 fats if you choose salmon or sardines!)

Add seeds or nuts instead of croutons, and make your own dressing.

Trying to find a great packaged salad dressing can be a huge challenge.

Unless you’re choosing a high quality product with only a few organic and unprocessed ingredients, you’re probably just coating your salad with sugar and additives.

Thanks to the low-fat craze that duped our country for decades (learn more– skip the section on fat to read about the guy who started all of the nonsense), big food manufacturers have been mass-producing salad dressings that are anything but healthy.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO BUY SALAD DRESSINGS OR CREATE YOUR OWN, LOOK FOR PRODUCTS THAT ONLY HAVE SEVERAL INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING:

⦁ Olive oil
⦁ Avocado oil
⦁ Walnut oil
⦁ Red wine vinegar
⦁ Apple cider vinegar
⦁ Herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc…)
⦁ Sea salt (or any other other unrefined type of salt)

I ALSO RECOMMEND THAT YOU LOOK OUT FOR THESE INGREDIENTS, BUT UNLIKE THE LIST ABOVE AVOID THESE LIKE THE PLAGUE:

⦁ Sugar
⦁ High Fructose Corn Syrup
⦁ Artifical sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame
⦁ Monosodium glutatmate (MSG)
⦁ Modified Corn Starch
⦁ Xanthan Gum
⦁ Disodium EDTA
⦁ Phosphoric acid
⦁ Soybean, canola, and other refined oils high in omega-6 (why the oil you eat matters)
⦁ Artificial flavors
⦁ Artificial colors

Commercial food manufacturers use many more food additives, these are just the most common offenders in packaged salad dressings.

In general, if you don’t know what it is and/or you can’t pronounce it- it’s probably not good for you.

I find that it’s easier to avoid the hassle of reading every label at Whole Foods altogether, so I make a simple salad dressing at home.

MY STAPLE SALAD DRESSING

I was raised by French women, and in our house, salad accompanied every meal.

Not only did we inhale every salad my grandma made, my three cousins and I would fight over who could have the remaining dressing at the bottom of the salad bowl.

We may be extreme in our love for this vinaigrette recipe, but try it out and judge for yourself!

GRANDMA DANIELLE’S VINAIGRETTE

(She’s the original owner of the name, I simply get to share it with her)
⦁ Pour ingredients over your salad and toss until evenly coated. Scale the amounts for your salad size, and feel free to tweak the ratios to your liking)
⦁ 1 part red wine vinegar
⦁ 3 parts olive oil
⦁ Salt and pepper to taste

That’s it. I told you it was simple. It’s too easy not to try at least once.

Feel free to add your own flare!

Some of Grandma’s favorite additions are freshly chopped parsley, shallot, and garlic.

TO WRAP THINGS UP…

Many salads can be super delicious while simultaneously being super unhealthy.

In order to feel awesome and get the most benefits from your salad, only chow down on fresh unprocessed ingredients.

Skip the sugar and artificial ingredients. Use organic, healthy fats, vinegar for a kick, and herbs to spice things up (see what I did there)…

WHAT DO YOU ADD TO YOUR HEALTHY SALAD? SHARE YOUR FAVORITE HOMEMADE AND STORE-BOUGHT DRESSINGS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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