The word itself can conjure up thoughts of dieting and boring lunches, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Salads can be packed with nutrients, flavor, and color while giving you convenient options for any meal or snack.
The key is in the ingredients. Technically, a salad is a mixture of greens that is usually topped with a dressing. But, salads go way beyond iceberg lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. The possibilities are endless as long as you understand how to build your salads to include all three macronutrients -- carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Carbohydrates: Build your salad on a foundation of vegetables.
Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine, arugula, kale, and collard greens add a ton of phytonutrients while giving the salad plenty of fullness. Additional vegetables such as red, orange, or yellow peppers, onions, beets, carrots, or parsnips will add some crunch and a splash of color. Fruit is a flavorful ingredient, but limit it to one serving or less per salad. Apples, pears, grapes, or strawberries add wonderful sweetness but still pack plenty of nutrition.
Protein: Without protein, a salad is just a salad -- not an actual meal.
Add a protein source and your salad rises to a new level. Include 4-8 ounces of a meat source such as steak, chicken, turkey, pork, tuna or anything else you desire. Two hard-boiled eggs would also suffice as a protein source.
If you're a vegetarian, you should still focus on getting a serving of protein through beans, legumes, or other acceptable sources.
Fat: A fat source could be as simple as an olive oil-based dressing, but the options don't stop there.
Toppings such as avocado, nuts, shredded cheese, or olives are all healthy fats that keep you satiated while adding incredible flavor.
Finally, add your favorite herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how flavorful a salad can be.
Salads work great if you're packing your lunch because there is no need to heat anything up. Just prep and pack your greens and veggies in a bowl. Cut up your protein source and keep it in a separate bowl. Pack a side of healthy fats and when it's time to eat, just add the protein and fat to your main bowl and you have a complete meal that's ready to satisfy.
For an easy and healthy do-it-yourself salad dressing, check out our Facebook page by clicking on the social media link at PushFitnessTraining.com.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.