What Makes a Salad Sexy?

When Christina Heiser of A Sweat Life asked for my tips on building a healthy salad for her #NationalSaladMonth article, little did she know I could teach a whole course on this stuff! As I explained, I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say how unsatisfied they feel after their salads and how little they look forward to them. My honest response: then why are you still eating them? πŸ˜‰

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If you’re gagging down your salad while dreaming of your cheat day, we need to switch things up! Let me tell you, we’ve all got 99 problems but a boring salad does NOT have to be one of them! 

Building a sexy salad is not so much about what you remove but really about the swaps you make and things you add on! 

Click HERE to read Christina's article HOW TO BUILD A BETTER SALAD FOR NATIONAL SALAD MONTH featuring myself and several other nutrition experts and our opinions on what it takes to get the most out of your greens!

Also, if you're curious to dive a little deeper, I wanted to share my full Q&A with Christina! Hopefully this will give you some helpful tips for the next time you make a salad -- remember it's all about swapping it like it's HOT! 

What's your favorite base for a salad and why do you like it?
My all time favorite salad base is organic mixed greens and romaine. I love this combination not only for its nutrient density (rich in vitamins and minerals) but because the flavor is more complex than just having one type of lettuce. I add romaine because I absolutely love the refreshing and crispy crunch! 

If someone's concerned about their salad truly being filling, what are some good toppings to consider? 
I can't tell you how many times I hear people saying how unsatisfied they feel after a salad and how little they look forward to it! 99% of the time this is because they aren't adding enough to it and/or including adequate amounts of protein, fat and fiber to turn off hunger hormones and keep blood sugar levels balanced! Some of my favorite toppings include proteins like canned wild salmon mixed with primal kitchen mayo and everything but the bagel seasoning and more simple options like hard boiled eggs. I always include 3-4 healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, and kalamata olives. I make sure to have fiber in the form of non-starchy veggies like roasted brussels sprouts, asparagus, and artichoke hearts and sometimes sprinkle in hemp hearts which taste great on salads!

Store-bought dressings and ones at salad bars can be really creamy - for someone who wants to keep it a little lighter, what's an easy salad dressing option to have on hand?  Store bought salad dressings can turn a healthy salad into  an unhealthy one real quick. In addition to dairy, most of them are loaded with inflammatory oils like canola and safflower and lots of added sugar! I love to top my salads with an easy mix of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper. My favorite store-bought dressings are Primal Kitchen's ranch and caesar made with pasture raised eggs and all natural ingredients! I also just discovered Foods Alive super food dressings which are loaded with healthy fats and fiber and come in a variety of flavors! 

What are some of the toppings/dressings that you should try and avoid? 
My recommendation is to become a compassionate food detective and learn to read labels. If a salad dressing is loaded with added sugars, cheap oils or conventional dairy, chances are it doesn't belong in your bowl. When you start to read labels you'll realize there are very few healthy dressings on the shelves, even in health food stores which is why I like to have my 2-3 go-to brands that I love and then experiment  with my own dressings! Toppings wise, try to replace things like croutons with flax crackers, sugar coated nuts with alternatives like sunflower seeds and macadamia nuts and dried fruit with a small amount of fresh fruit like sliced apples or berries! If you want to add cheese to your salad, I would treat yourself to a high-quality organic variation or add some more healthy fats instead! It's not about taking away, it's about finding swap outs that satisfy you even more. With a healthy and hearty salad you should be feeling full, energized and super satisfied for at least 3-4 hours!