Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hearty and Heart-Healthy…Salads

I often try to take salads to work for lunch. It’s an easy thing to make, doesn’t require heating and is super-healthy for you. Also, it’s light enough that you feel fresh and energetic but heavy enough to keep you from indulging in office donuts at 4pm….

Well, they can be. Salads to me are a great go to that I can prep ahead of time and have ready in the fridge to grab on my way out the door. But you have to have fun with your greens. You can chop all the lettuce in the world and put it in little containers all you want, but if your salad is boring or not filling then you might as well be taking fries to work because that’s probably what you will be ordering from the drive through when your lunch fails to satisfy you.

            So how to do salads and do them right. Well I have found the best way to prep your salads is to wash/chop/prepare a bunch of leafy greens. Dark green is the best so think about romaine, arugula, spinach or kale. Then add more veggie power with grape tomatoes (don’t cut them as they wont keep as long as the whole ones do in your pre prepped salad lunches).
Next add additional vegetables that won’t go bad: I find cucumber, once cut, can last with other dry vegetables for about 2 days. Celery and carrots however, will last a week. So as long as it won’t spoil quickly, add it to your salad ahead of time.

Same goes for fruits. Strawberries can be cut and added the day before but if you are prepping a week’s worth of salad I’d leave these out until the night before you are going to eat. Blueberries however, hold up well. Same goes for pomagranite seeds or dried cranberries.You can also add nuts and seeds like pepitas, almond slivers or walnuts to top up your salads. 

"So that’s great, Angelie," you say to me, "but no amount of vegetables is going to fill me up." Hmm, that’s what you think. If you roast a huge amount of root vegetables (carrots, celery, turnips, sweet potatoes) ahead of time, you can pack these separately, warm them up and add them to your salads all week.  The warm veggies will trick you into thinking you are eating something more than plants. Try it…I’m always full after this.

If root vegetables aren’t your thing, you can always top your salad with some tuna fish (I like the flavoured ones, especially lemon pepper, but I eat this on rare occasions because of all the problems with mercury in Tuna fish) or grilled chicken (again, make a big batch to keep in your fridge to last a few days to help with meal prep).

Other vegetarian options include a bean salad with vegetables and a salt, pepper, lime juice dressing. This however is something I’d pack in a separate container and put over my salad before eating. I put it over my salad because the lime and juices from the veggies make a very light and tasty dressing (I save calories by not adding dressing in this way).

You can also pack hummus or guacamole into the same container as your salad (night before) and use this as a dressing as well as something that fills you up. Avocado also, is such an awesome option to add to salads but again this is something I cut either the night before or right before eating as it turns dark quickly (keep the avocado pit with the fruit while storing in order to prevent this).

If you need more flavour than all of that, you can take dressing in a separate container (I bought my little squeeze containers at Home Outfitters) but there are even healthier alternatives. Putting a cut lemon wedge into your pre prepped salad containers will save you time the morning of and they keep quite well for a few days. Orange wedges also work really well and your salad will have a sweet, fresh taste.

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