Cooking 101: Making The Perfect Salad
Making a restaurant quality salad requires a little extra know-how and finesse, but following these tips & instructions will get you there!
Before we get to the “how”, we’ve got to hammer out the “what”!
Just like any other meal, your salad should be a 50% veggie – 20% protein with the rest being carbs and healthy fats.
Go for leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula or spring mix to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck. These greens have much of your daily recommended amount of assorted vitamins & minerals such as Vitamin A and potassium. They help with digestion and go great with practically any toppings.
The Vitamins & Nutrients:
Now that your base is decided, now comes the fun part – toppings! A hearty salad has the potential to fuel your body with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can improve to your overall health over the long run. Some ingredients can even be chosen to support the health of specific body functions, like carrots for your eyes, broccoli for digestion and beets for your immune system.
Some Toppings To Choose From:
- Artichoke Hearts
- Bell Pepper
- Red Onion
- Sweet Potato
Try them roasted, grilled, marinated, raw or pickled
Packing On The Protein
Protein isn’t only important for bodybuilders! Getting your complete proteins everyday is an important part of a balanced diet to have good energy and a well functioning metabolic system. Aside from the health benefits, foods that are high in protein also help keep you fuller longer – an important key for those trying to watch what they eat!
There are both animal-based and plant-based proteins to choose from.
- Eggs – Hard-boiled, poached, soft-boiled
- Beans – kidney, black, garbanzo, great northern, edamame, tofu,
- Goat Cheese
Add Some Whole Grains!
- Brown Rice
Don’t Forget The Healthy Fats!
Eating the right fats can increase good cholesterol “HDL” and decrease “LDL”!
- Seeds – pepitas, sunflower, sesame
- Nuts – almonds, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts
Using an olive oil-based dressing? There’s some more healthy fats!
Dressing It Up
While bottled dressing is as convenient as it is delicious, they can sometimes hide more sugar than we need. Making your own salad dressing is quick and fun, resulting in an extra flavor punch you won’t find from the bottle. There are a gazillion (that’s right, we said gazillion) recipes out there for any dressing you can imagine, but if you’re just starting out you can try this easy recipe for a homemade vinaigrette:
3 Parts Oil + 1 Part Vinegar
From there you can whisk in mustard, add in chili flakes or add your favorite herbs and spices.
Making The Salad
While there are many ready-to-use salad kits in store already, you could always come up with your own combo of greens. Romaine and iceberg go well together for a crunchy texture. Spinach and arugula are more gentle greens. Mixing watercress with arugula will give you a nice peppery taste. Kale is extremely fibrous with a pungent flavor – it is best paired with a more powerful dressing like caesar or vinaigrette.
Once your greens are in order, season them up. Salt and pepper do wonders to amplify the flavors of your salad!
One element of salads that is often overlooked is the ability to manage every bite. Taking this into consideration, we recommend chopping your salad toppings into manageable pieces before putting it together. This way more ingredients fit on your fork at a time!
Now that your toppings are chopped and ready to go in you can go about topping your salad completely freestyle. For a picture-esk salad, you can arrange ingredients together on top, make a pattern or organize by color. Once your toppings are on, drizzle your dressing over it evenly.
Got your pictures? Great! Let’s get ready to eat! Our favorite way to toss a salad involves placing a separate, inverted bowl on top of your salad plate so it covers the salad – then shaking it all-which-ways around so the ingredients, greens and salad dressing are distributed evenly throughout. [visual below]
(need to take pictures)
Don’t feel like dirtying another bowl? That’s fine, just use your salad tossing utensils per the usual.
All of the above seems like a lot to go through if you are trying to have a simple salad for lunch! Try some of these meal solutions for salads on-the-go!
June 26, 2017