Hey Everyone! It’s Jeni Hollifield, your Healthy Grocery Girl Registered Dietitian and I have such a fun blog post to share with you today! It’s officially summer and on a hot day, I crave all the fresh and crisp foods! Summer salads packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and energizing nutrients are the perfect lunch or dinner. In today’s post we are sharing a roundup of 10 Healthy Summer Salads that we’ve previously shared on the HGG Blog, for you to enjoy all summer long! Some of these salads are completely meal worthy, no need to add anything else! While some of the salads, such as HGG’s potato salad (so good!) is best as a side. Click the title of each recipe to visit the original recipe post!
Before we dive into the recipes, let’s break down what makes a salad nutritionally balanced and meal worthy!
Protein is essential for your body’s growth and maintenance. Proteins make up the framework of your muscles by forming and reforming cells as muscles grow or breakdown. The protein found in your body contains enzymes that aid in digestion, energy production, muscle contractions and even blood clotting! The amount of protein your body needs depends on your age. Toddlers from ages 1-3 need approximately 16 grams per day. Adult males should aim for around 56 grams and females 46 grams. These numbers will increase depending on your activity level. Some plant-based proteins that we love include beans such as lentils and chickpeas, nuts and nut butters, tofu, quinoa, chia seeds, and even certain breads can have up to 4 grams of protein per slice! Beans are an incomplete protein, which means they are missing a few amino acids to make them complete. Consuming rice at some point in your day will complete these proteins! If you are primarily plant-based, but not 100% vegan, fish, lean meats and eggs are also complete sources of protein.
Dietary fiber is extremely important for your body’s overall digestion, achieving a healthy weight, controlling blood glucose, and reducing risk of certain diseases. Fiber comes from the part of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. It comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber works in your intestines by dissolving in water and forming a gel-like structure. This “gel” works to remove / lower cholesterol along with other materials from your body! Some sources of soluble fiber include oat bran, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries and some vegetables! Insoluble fiber helps bulk up material to be moved out of your digestive system. Insoluble fiber can benefit those who suffer from constipation or irregular bowel movements. Some sources of insoluble fiber include whole grain products, vegetables and wheat bran. Men should aim to consume 38 grams of fiber per day while women should consume 25 grams. Feeling overwhelmed with adding in more fiber to your diet? Start by simply adding one fruit or veggie to each meal throughout your day or start your day off with a fruit and veggie packed smoothie!
The word “fat” may sound scary, but certain fats are crucial for your body’s energy and cell growth! Fats protect your organs, keep your body warm, help your body absorb nutrients and even produce hormones! There are many different types of fat and even ones you should avoid. The main types are trans fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Trans fats should be completely avoided and saturated fats should be limited / used sparingly. These fats are more solid at room temperature and can raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found in liquid form and can lower your LDL cholesterol. These healthier fats contain omega-3 fatty acids which aid in your body’s vision, brain development and even lowering overall blood pressure. Some healthy fats we love to consume are avocados, nuts and seeds, chia seeds and small amounts of plant-based oils when cooking! If you consume fish, salmon is another food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to consume 20-35% of your total calories from fat, which ranges from 44-70 grams per day.
Some reasons to choose organic when making a tasty salad, include avoiding chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, hormones and antibiotics, reducing pollution and enjoying the best possible taste you can get from your food! Deciding to purchase more organic foods can feel daunting and expensive. Make small changes over time such as only buying new products once your current items have run out. Also, you can start with buying the “dirty dozen” organic. These are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that are most sprayed with pesticides and therefore should be bought organic. The list includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. Another way to buy fresh, organic food is through supporting your local farmers by going to your farmers market! Farmers markets are a great way to ensure quality food that hasn’t been shipped from far away. Grab the family and enjoy a Saturday together picking out some new foods to try.
Making your own dressing is super easy and can help you avoid unnecessary ingredients found in store bought dressings. A lot of store-bought dressings contain added sugar, unhealthy fats and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Most dressings can be made with ingredients already available in your home. Start with a simple dressing such as one with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt! For example try Healthy Grocery Girl’s homemade Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing, it’s a favorite!
Below is a list of our favorite Healthy Summer Salad recipes! Click on each title to visit the original blog post to view / print the recipes.
This salad contains chickpeas, one of our favorite plant-based proteins. Did you know that 1 cup of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein? These crunchy beans also are packed with fiber, which when combined with protein, slow digestion and keep you full for longer.
2. QUINOA SALAD
Quinoa is high in plant-based protein and fiber and is the perfect pseudo-grain for someone eating gluten-free! This recipe is a great one to meal prep for your week at work!
This potato salad is the perfect addition to any summer parties or get togethers. It’s made with fresh ingredients, 3 different potatoes and a creamy dairy-free cashew sauce for the base!
Grilled corn is sweet, crunchy and a flavorful addition to your summer salad! Did you know that corn is actually a soluble fiber? Eat up and help that digestion!
This salad is loaded with nutrients and is the perfect detox salad. Load up on this salad for a healthy energizing lunch or side for your dinner!
This pasta salad can easily substitute as your meal because it is made with lentil pasta, which contains 20 grams of protein per cup! It is also packed with vegetables to help you get in your daily servings and healthy fat from olives!
If you’re having trouble eating all the different colors of vegetables, this salad is for you! It’s packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! This beautiful salad will be a show stopper at any gathering.
This classic salad is a favorite that has been revamped to be vegan and gluten-free! Enjoy all the delicious original flavors and accommodate anyone with a food allergy or preference!
Need a second pasta salad recipe?! This one is packed with yummy ingredients including tomatoes, which contain the phytonutrient lycopene, an antioxidant that may lower prostate cancer!
This salad is rich in vitamin K, an essential vitamin for producing prothrombin, which is what clots your blood! You’ll also get a healthy dose of fiber and iron from the lentils in this salad!
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