Aaaahhhhhhh … the trusty salad … maker and breaker of diets and waistlines. Are you trying to eat right to meet your health and fitness goals but sick and tired of bland, unsatisfying salads that leave you reaching for a bag of Cheetos? Body Machine Fitness (BMF) nutritionist Alix is here to save the day! Whether you’d rather opt for a take-out prepared salad or prefer making your own, she’s got you covered.
Going the prepared salad route
Alix is a big fan of prepared salads, if chosen wisely. As she explains, “If you want to grab a salad and go, look for the type of salads Crisp Salad Coor Salataoffer. Their salads are loaded with greens and topped with three, six or even eight other ingredients, then tossed together with a really yummy dressing. These salads even satisfy my workout-fiend, Ironman clients when they’re hungry for a meal.”
On the flip side, prepared salads can sabotage your health if you don’t choose wisely. You know the one, the fried chicken salad, smothered in shredded cheddar and a dressing so rich you need to loosen your belt afterwards. You may as well order a cheeseburger and fries.
“The biggest mistake people make when ordering a salad or making one at home is using a poor quality dressing. Many dressings are made with low quality, inflammatory oils, such as canola or soybean oils. Not to mention, most dressings you’ll get at a restaurant are full of sugar. When ordering a salad out, I always suggest asking for olive oil or avocado oil and apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar. If there is a dressing on the menu you’re dying to have – like Ranch or maybe Thousand Island – get it on the side and dip your fork in it every other bite,” Alix says.
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Making salad at home?
Here are Alix’s five essential elements – her MUSTS – for a perfectly satisfying salad:
No. 1: High quality greens. This means just about anything BUT iceberg. Yep, your greens choices are practically unlimited – spinach, kale, arugula, mixed greens, romaine, endive, radicchio, watercress, mesclun and so on. Want to shake things up? Consider mixing a few together.
No. 2: Protein. Consider animal-based proteins like salmon, shrimp, chicken, beef or turkey. For vegetarian and plant-based eaters, try some tempeh or edamame. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of plant-based protein. (Just skip the tofu – we’ll fill you in on the downsides of soy-based foods in a future post.)
No. 3: Temperatures. Alix loves to toss a salad with some roasted cherry tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower. As she explains, “The heat it brings slightly wilts the greens, which makes the salad feel like a meal. It creates heartiness. I also like to add something chilled, like crumbled goat or feta cheese or diced avocado. When you get a bite of greens and some roasted broccoli and a piece of goat cheese – it is an amazing bite!”
No. 4: Dressing. As mentioned above, dressing can truly make or break a salad, especially from a clean eating perspective. “I like extra virgin olive oil and a mix of balsamic and apple cider vinegar when it’s hot outside. But in the colder months, I like something that is going to create more ‘density’ to the salad, if you will, so I’ll make a creamy dressing with Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo as the base,” Alix says.
Get Alix’s go-to Honey Mustard Dressing here.
No. 5: Textures. According to Alix,“You can’t have a good salad without something crunchy. I love to toast up some sourdough croutons or roasted chickpeas – and black beans are great too. Toasted nuts of any kind also bring the perfect, super easy crunch factor.”
Build a salad with all of these elements and Alix promises, “You’ll never look at a salad the same again!”
Up for a few more healthy eating tips? Read 10 Super Easy Ways to Eat Healthier NOW.
Bonus benefits of the perfectly satisfying salad
Two words: Roughage and nutrients.
Roughage is incredibly important for a healthy digestive tract – here’s why: “Greens in general are one of the foods highest in anti-inflammatory properties. By simply adding greens to any meal, you’ve done your gut a huge favor by making it easier to digest all of the other foods you’re eating with those greens. Roughage also ‘gets things moving’ in terms of healthy digestion. So if that is an area you struggle with, a salad a day – or at least three times a week – could make a big difference for you,” says Alix.
Now, about those nutrients … Consider the five elements Alix includes in her perfectly satisfying salad. Eating the right kind of salad is a brilliant way to pack in all of the healthy nutrients your body needs.
As she explains, “By mixing some greens (fiber) with protein (NOT fried chicken), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil) and some unprocessed carbohydrates (roasted chickpeas, etc.), you end up creating the ultimate recipe for satiety. I promise you won’t be hungry for three to four hours after you eat a salad built on these elements.” Satisfaction guaranteed.
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