Make Salads A Summer Staple (Enjoy this Zucchini Carpaccio Salad Recipe from Lickmyspoon.com)

Eating salad may be one of the most healthy eating habits you can adopt. And one of the simplest, experts say. Plus, it’s a super convenient way to work in a couple of servings of vegetables to help meet your daily nutrition goals.

Lucky for us, the arrival of summer brings a gorgeous rainbow of tasty options for our palate. Buttery, enormous heads of greens, juicy pink watermelons, sweet berries, savory yellow, orange, and red tomatoes, and crunchy, purple, yellow, and white corn that adds an extra pop of flavor to your salad, and are just the tip of the iceberg(lettuce) of options to choose from!

 

Want to give your salads an extra dietary punch? Here are 5 benefits of adding this nutritional powerhouse to your daily menu:

Weight Control: Eating a fiber-rich salad before an entree will help you to feel full faster. Feeling fuller will help you to consume less calories than you might when a meal is served without this salad course.

Building Strong Bones: Low vitamin K levels have been linked to low bone mineral density in women. For healthy bone growth, a recommended full daily serving can be found in just 1 cup of watercress (100%), radicchio (120%) or spinach (170%).

Improved Eyesight: The carotenoids found in the green leafies like spinach, romaine and red lettuce help the eyes to adjust from bright to dark, and to filter out high intensity light levels, protecting them from the formation of damaging free radicals.

Improved Muscle Performance: The nutrients found in spinach not only help to build strong bones, they also help to improve the performance of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the little structures inside cells that help to produce energy, as well as inform and power muscles.

Heart Health: Romaine lettuce contains two key nutrients in significant levels that help to protect the heart muscle: folate and fiber. High levels of folate have been shown to assist in the prevention of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

 

You can give your salad an additional dose of nutritional value plus an antioxidant boost by including certain key ingredients:

Herbs: Power herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, dill, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and lemon are densely packed with vitamins and various phytonutrients. Because these vitamins and phytonutrients are produced so intensely, they’re especially nutritionally dense or thermogenic, and may help to naturally increase your metabolism. Tip: For a quick homemade dressing, choose your favorite herb combos, mix with a healthy oil plus lemon juice or vinegar, and season to taste.

Sprouts: Adding sprouts to a salad is like turbo-charging the value of your veggies. Plus, they’re easy to grow at home, and economical as well. Tip: New to Sprouts? Check out a few popular options like Wheatgrass, Alfalfa, Pea Shoots, and Mung Beans.

 

Here are a few Salad no-no’s to ensure that your plate stays nutritious and healthful:

People often start out trying to do something healthy for their body by choosing salad for their next meal but end up adding ingredients that can quickly diminish its’ benefits.

Commercial salad dressings are often loaded with high fructose corn syrup and processed trans fats to prolong their shelf life. Even seemingly “healthy” options like low-fat dressings have increased sugar levels to compensate for the loss of flavor. These added sugars drive insulin resistance, a major contributor to diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Many deli meats (which contain high levels of preservatives and nitrates) full-fat cheeses, croutons, and salted or candied nuts all add flavor and texture, but they come with a price tag of added calories, unhealthy fats and extra sugars. So if you decide to incorporate them into your salad-making, remember a little goes a long way.

Making salads a staple of your daily meal plan can increase powerful antioxidants (vitamin C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene,) especially if your salad includes some raw vegetables. Antioxidant-rich meals help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. For years, researchers have noted a link between eating lots of fruits and vegetables and lower risks of many diseases, particularly cancer. So, get into the habit of having a salad a day, and you’ll benefit quickly from the nutritional boost.

 

To get you started, here’s a fresh summer salad recipe from our friend and food blogger Stephanie of LickMySpoon.com.

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad
YIELD: 6 SERVINGS
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 14 MINUTES

Light, fresh, and one of the prettiest salads ever.

Ingredients:
3 medium-sized zucchini
1 lemon, juice and zest
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1⁄4 c kalamata olives, torn
1⁄4 c almonds, roughly chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
2 oz feta, crumbled
parsley flowers (or other herb flower)
microgreens
Maldon sea salt

Instructions:

  • Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini into lengthwise ribbons the thickness of an index card. The slices should be thin enough to easily twist and bend.
  • Toss the zucchini in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and EVOO. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the zucchini into pretty twists and turns, ribbons and curls, spirals and rosettes. Scatter the olives, almonds, dill, and feta throughout. Garnish with herb flowers and microgreens. Finish with a drizzle of EVOO and a pinch of flaky Maldon sea salt.

RECIPE SOURCE: LICKMYSPOON.COM.