Garden greens, sardines, guacamole and sriracha sauce– delicious!
With this hot summer weather I suspect you are craving more cold meals and maybe (hopefully!) more salads as well! Yes, salads sure CAN be the meal. And a very satisfying meal at that. The secret: You just have to add the right toppings. This means making sure you have a source of protein and fat with your veggies.
I know what some of you are thinking because I hear it all the time… why in the world would I want to purposely include FAT in my meal?! There is still a lot of outdated and downright wrong information circulating about fats and they get an undeserved nasty reputation. The truth is: healthy sources of fats don’t make you fat and no, they don’t clog your arteries. Fats contribute to making a meal satisfying and help to keep you full longer. They support hormone balance and help stabilize blood sugar levels so you tend to crave and eat less. They also contain essential fatty acids that are crucial for a healthy body and brain.
AND… fats taste good! I ♥ fats!
But you have to choose healthy fats. Fats are easily damaged when exposed to heat, light and oxygen– all of which happens in the processing of most oils, including those found in bottled salad dressings. Coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil are more stable fats but try to stick to whole-food fats as much as possible for maximum nutritional value. One of my favorite healthy fats is the avocado. Sliced fresh or in the form of guacamole, it’s a perfect fat for salads and it can sub as a replacement for oil-based dressings.
Let’s break this quick salad down into 3 easy steps:
1. Greens: Fill your bowl. Any kind of salad-type greens as well as spinach, kale and collards work. If you can find baby kale or collards they taste milder than the large leaves. Add any other veggies you want like carrots, peppers, onions or cucumbers. Make it a point to always have salad greens in your fridge, especially in summer.
2. Protein: Sardines. I buy my tins of sardines at Job Lot and have a stash in my pantry for healthy quick protein. Be prepared to see spines– I was weirded out at first, but they are soft and totally edible. In fact, very GOOD for you– calcium! I usually share my sardines with my kitties who looooooove them.
In addition to being a rich source of protein, sardines also contain super-healthy fats called omega 3s. Know that although foods often get lumped into categories like protein, fat or carbohydrate they are actually usually a combo of these macronutrients.
Not that brave? Buy frozen shrimp to have on hand in the freezer. They take minimal time and effort to boil in a pot on the stove. Or just bust open a can of tuna. Vegetarian? Open a can of beans like chickpeas or black beans. They even sell canned lentils.
3. Fat: Avocado or guacamole. If I’m doing fresh avocado I usually eat half and save the other half for another meal. Depends how hungry you are and what your day looks like! We buy Moe’s guacamole packs at BJ’s and they are perfect for salad topping.
Not into avocado? Other fat options to try include sprinkled hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, drizzled almond or cashew butters or cheese.
Here’s a chopped kale (from my garden 🙂 ) salad with shrimp, Moe’s guacamole and salsa:
It’s a tasty medley of flavors. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to food.
You can top a nice bed of greens with just about anything!
If you’re looking for a low-carb meal, this type of salad is just the thing. If your body is feeling like some carbs, add a leftover baked potato or sweet potato or have some fruit with it. Choose nutrient-packed carbs like these real-foods and not highly processed flour-based factory-made things like croutons, crackers and breads. Those types of empty calories will often leave you craving more of that type of carbohydrate where the nutrition in whole-food carbohydrates will nourish your body better. Try if for yourself and see.
Salads make the perfect quick, light, summer meal– but don’t forget the protein and fat!