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On the Menu: Satisfying Salads

While there are so many different ways to prepare produce, one of the easiest and most delicious ways is to incorporate them into a big, beautiful salad.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In today's On the Menu segment, Registered Dietitian Tara Martin from Mercy Health shares tips on how to prepare a satisfying and healthy salad.

Adults need about two servings of fruit and two and a half servings of vegetables each day, and many of us fall below this amount.  We often hear that salads are boring or not filling enough, but when prepared with the right ingredients they can serve as a great way to get the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables and lean protein into our day. 

The Base
 A good base of any salad, as you may have guessed, is the greens. There are many different options available on the shelf. You can buy heads or stalks of lettuce, but one of the easiest ways to buy greens is from a bag. Darker greens such as spinach, kale and arugula are higher in nutrients like magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C and iron than lighter types such as iceberg or romaine. 

The Color
The next step, my personal favorite, is adding the fresh fruits and vegetables. Summer and even early fall are great times to take advantage of all the produce available. Peaches are one my favorites that peak this time of year. They have vitamin C and fiber, and also provide a beautiful color and a pop of flavor. This recipe also includes some red onion to provide a little crunch and more flavor. If you don’t like onion, you could add some diced cucumber or green bell pepper. 

Add Texture and Fat
A great way to make every bite of your salad taste delicious is by adding a little crunch. Adding some nuts provide a texture and additional omega 3 fatty acids that are great for heart health. Walnuts are a great example. Another heart healthy option to include is avocado. An additional source of fat that I like to add is cheese – this recipe has feta. Since nuts and cheese tend to be high in fat, they can help you feel full and satisfied after eating your salad.

Add Protein 
Another option to improve your salad may be to add a protein source. This recipe includes some grilled chicken – this is where leftovers can really come in handy. To visualize, a deck of cards is about 3 oz. of meat, which is a good portion size to incorporate into your dish. Other sources of lean protein include beans, chickpeas or fish. Having protein in your salad is another way to help you feel full and energized after.

The Dressing
The last and final step is adding a dressing to your salad. Find one that you enjoy and that will complement the ingredients in your salad. Some of the brands in store contain additional sodium, sugar and other unwanted ingredients. Dressing is actually very simple to make at home: 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Add some salt and pepper, mix/shake well and there you have it.

Take your salad to work or school for a healthy and satisfying lunch or enjoy it as a light dinner. If you prepare a large enough salad for multiple servings it is best to store your dressing and salad separate in the fridge to prevent the greens from getting too soggy. 

Summery chicken, peach salad

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 10 oz. mixed salad greens
  • About 3 small peaches
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • ½ red onion, sliced

White wine vinaigrette dressing

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Information and recipe courtesy of Tara Martin, RD.

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