For many people Spring may make them immediately think of eating salad. Or maybe that is just me? But I do know that many people who don't enjoy cold or raw foods in the winter will start to crave them as we enter spring. Which is perfect because raw ingredients, like those common in salads, can also be a great way to help you "lighten up" after a cold winter.
Here's what's important to remember: when you replace the heavier foods of winter with spring dishes, don’t make the mistake of leaving out the most important ingredients. You can do far better than a bowl of iceberg and baby carrots.
Salads should be about satisfaction, not sacrifice. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak to your usual routine or recipe. Here are three essential components your salad needs to taste great, satisfy your hunger and nourish your body:
1) Protein and fiber for long-lasting satisfaction. Add some chickpeas, beans or lentils. Just 1/3 cup of lentils provides 6 grams of protein and 36% of your recommended daily dietary fiber.
2) A variety of colors and textures that offer a broad range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Choose dark greens and vary them. See how many colors you can include. Bonus: this makes it look appealing, which actually helps you enjoy it more.
3) Healthy fats to enable your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the orange and green vegetables. An easy way to do this is by adding some nuts or seeds. Vitamins do your body no good if you can’t absorb them. Put your food to work for your health.
Here is a recipe for an easy lunch salad that takes advantage of these tips. It has plenty of protein and fiber (partly thanks to the lentils), it is colorful (red, orange, green, purple) and has healthy fats (from sunflower seeds and tahini).
Spring Salad with Garlicky Tahini Dressing
8 cups baby spinach or mixed greens
2 cups cucumber, quartered length-wise and cut into 1/4 “ slices
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/3 cups or 1 15oz can green or brown lentils, drained and rinsed
¼ cup finely diced red onion
2 TB hulled sunflower seeds (optional)
2 TB garlic-flavored extra virgin olive oil
2 TB lemon juice
2 TB tahini
1 ½ tsp maple syrup
sea salt to taste
In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, except the sunflower seeds.
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until well blended.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Top with the sunflower seeds for added crunch, if desired. Serve immediately. If packing for lunch, keep dressing separate until ready to eat.
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