Get Excited About Eating Your Greens!
Many of you have reached out with similar questions about salads. Recognizing the importance of getting your daily greens, yet finding it difficult to routinely include them in meals seems to be a prominent challenge.
While studying Holistic Nutrition in 2012 was when I really became interested in my personal health most. I realized that I have control over my body, my health, and most of all, my well-being. They were all mine to nourish - or not. I started paying more attention to what was best on my body, and what wasn't. How a day of eating well made me feel amazing versus a day of mindless eating & fast meals.
I started to understand how important it was to put as many veggies as possible into my diet and throughout my experience as a personal chef, I have picked up some tasty ways to prep veggies and greens to make them desirable and delectable.
Today, I'd like to share some tricks with you on salad greens. Each tip falls into one of two categories: Eating Out and Cooking at Home. Try applying at least one of these tips to your weekly routine and let me know how it goes!
You can tag me with your favorite salads on on instagram or facebook using @karagambrel
1. KNOW YOUR FOOD PREFERENCES
Be conscious of what add ins you like or don't like when ordering/making a salad.
Many people don’t enjoy salads because they don’t like the ingredients inside the salad, the dressing, or the greens. And worse, sometimes they don’t know or don't attempt to modify. My advice to you? Start with your favorite base – choose lettuces/greens that you actually like - which might take some experimenting. On of my favorite bases to use is arugula. It has a nice peppery flavor that goes extremely well with just plain lemon juice and olive oil (salt and pepper, too). Once you have your base, start by adding in your favorite proteins, beans and/or veggies. Lastly, choose your dressing. If you're making it at home, try experimenting with a few recipes and subbing ingredients. Bottom line - If you’re consciously choosing flavors you enjoy, you will be more likely to pick salads.
2. SPEAK UP AT RESTAURANTS
Many (but not all) restaurants are happy to accommodate a personalized salad. By communicating your dietary needs and specific modifications, servers tend to be happy to work with you by helping you to sub, add or subtract specific ingredients. If you’re paying for it, you may as well get what you want, or close to it!
AT HOME COOKING
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Have you ever been a little overwhelmed making a salad at home? Try making a salad with less than 3 ingredients and a dressing. Use what you have on hand and be quick about it. I tend to have a lot of onions, fruit, tomatoes and veggies on hand. And sometimes I don’t. I use what I have on hand and make up my own combinations. Below are a few combinations that I like.
Arugula, tomatoes & red onions.
Spinach, avocado & strawberries.
Kale, almonds, & seasonal fruit.
Romaine, garlic chickpeas & vegan Parmesan cheese.
Endives, arugula & tomatoes.
Kale, roasted butternut squash & almonds.
Kale, hemp seeds and blueberries.
Arugula, black beans & fried egg.
Spinach, sweet potatoes, & fried egg.
- Arugula, shaved radishes & blue cheese.
5. ALWAYS DE-STEM AND MASSAGE YOUR KALE
The stems in kale tend to be hard, woodsy and tough on your stomach to digest. By de-stemming your kale, you will make the taste, texture, the digestion of the green a lot more enjoyable. Massaging it will take also it one step further. Chop the kale first and then add the greens to a big bowl with olive oil or your choice of dressing. Then with your hands massage the dressing into the kale for 30-60 seconds, and viola! The kale will be prepped for adding the ingredients of your choice and you'll have a tasty salad that you like!
6. MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSING
Many of the pre-made dressings come a lot of not-so-healthy additives like added sugars, artificial flavors, artificial colors, food dyes and cheap oils – ingredients like that are definitely not in you want your salad! Making your own dressing is truly very quick and allows you to have full control over what's in your mix. Keep in mind that you can be as simple or creative as you want to be. Make extra for the week and keep in a mini mason jar in the fridge.
Pro Tip: One thing to keep in mind when making a dressing is the lettuce you’re using. The more delicate the lettuce (think butter lettuce), the lighter the dressing must be. And heartier, heavier greens (think kale & romaine) offer more variety for dressings, from light to thick (think vinaigrette vs. Caesar).
Curious about dressing recipes? Click HERE for a few of my personal favorites in the Dips & Dressings section.
7. ADD HEARTINESS AND SERVE WARM
It' s very common to have a cold salad. But sometimes, especially in the winter or fall, or a rainy spring day, it is more appetizing to eat something warm. So, why not try a warm salad? You can easily do this by adding warm rice, quinoa, beans, or lentils to the base. You'd be surprised at how easily a boring salad becomes a nice hearty meal that is healthy, fulfilling and warm!