There are a few things I do every day to make sure I am feeling my best. Sleep is number one. I aim to sleep 7-9 hours a night so that I will feel my best the next day. Water is second. My goal is 100 ounces a day no matter what. On days when it’s particularly hot or I have a sweaty session in the gym, I drink another 32 ounces. The next one is eating my vegetables.
I try to make plants the foundation of most of my meals. Eating this way gives me tons of energy, vitamins and minerals, and helps boost anti inflammatory benefits. I aim to eat a variety of colors too to get the most benefits and as many micronutrients as possible. Eat the rainbow!
The current USDA recommendation is to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. While that number sounds reasonable, hitting it was hard until I started incorporating vegetables into 2 meals a day no matter what. The easiest way for me to do that is to make sure I eat at least one big salad a day.
I know, I know, salads can get a bad reputation for being boring or not filling you up. But if you build them the right way, make them BIG, and eat your food slowly, really chewing each bite, then I promise they will be delicious and satisfying and have staying power in your belly.
Here is my go-to, never fail way of building a delicious and satisfying salad.
I love to add a ton of greens to my salads- usually 3-4 cups. My favorite greens are spinach, arugula, romaine and kale. Kale lasts the longest in the fridge and if you need to make a salad for later in the day, it has the most staying power and will not become soggy once it’s dressed and sitting in the fridge for awhile. Any combination of these greens will do.
Cooked and Raw Vegetables:
I always buy cucumber, tomato, carrots, red onion, and bell peppers at the grocery and bring them home to wash and cut up to for the whole week. I also like to buy broccoli and brussels sprouts to roast (just spray them with avocado oil spray, sprinkle on some sea salt and roast in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes) and some sort of root vegetable; sweet potato, parsnips, butternut squash, etc.
I usually wash and dry them, dice them up into smaller pieces, toss with avocado oil and sea salt and roast in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes. Once it becomes time to build my salad, I put a mix of the raw and cooked veggies on top of the greens. This ends up being an additional 1-2 cups of veggies on top of the greens. SO when your daily veggie goal is 5-9 servings, just having this salad gets you 6 servings! I also like to add 1/4c of blueberries, strawberries, apples, or peaches to most of my salads.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete salad without a protein on top. I like to make a big batch of grilled chicken at the beginning of the week and add it to my salads, or I will use whatever leftover meat we have from dinner the night before. It can be anything really! I’ve used shredded pork, buffalo chicken, meatballs, burgers, salmon, shrimp- pretty much anything goes! I like to aim for 4-6 ounces of protein per salad.
Fats and Dressings:
I like a little fat on each salad also. Avocado, walnuts, goats cheese and pumpkin seeds are my go-tos. These are all so yummy and add delicious depth and flavor profiles to my salads. I usually try to have just one serving of one of these fats and then dress the salad in a citrus or champagne vinegar whisked with a little olive oil and honey. Drippy tahini and balsamic glaze is another combo I love to use on my salads I add fruit on.
So what it all boils down to is: choose your greens, prep a couple pans of veggies and protein, add a fat or two, assemble, dress, repeat.
Salads are such a fun and creative way to get all kinds of micronutrients into your day. I’ve been eating a salad a day for almost 2 full years now. It really just makes me feel my best. Hopefully it can be a fun way for you to get your veggies a couple of days a week too!