“A salad a day keeps the doctor away” is one my food mottos. In our home, we dedicate at least one meal a day to a mondo salad filled with delicious high nutrient foods. When people ask me for nutritional advice and I tell them they should eat a huge salad for lunch or dinner, I often hear, “Salad just doesn’t fill me up.” MJ’s salads aren’t your ordinary salads. By using nutrient dense ingredients your body will be satisfied and energized. Be warned: these salads are not for sissies.
1. Start with Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are a rich source of chlorophyll, which cleanses and oxygenates the blood. As I discussed in my Calm the Heck Down post, the more oxygen we get to the blood the more energized we feel.
Another important benefit of leafy greens is that the enzymes in these bad boys (in their raw form) promote rejuvenation of cells. This makes for a biologically younger body—yes ladies, you can decrease your biological age! That’s great news. I’ll discuss this in further detail in a later post.
You really can’t over do Leafy Greens. Go Green GAGA! Some of our favorites include:
- Swiss chard
- Explore, try new leafy greens.
2. Next come are the Vegetables
Fiberous vegetables are crutial to a healthy diet. The USDA recommends that we eat a minimum of 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. I say the USDA is selling us short—I say 8-10 should be our minimum.
Not to brag, but I’m sort of a fiber queen. As a result, I’m extremely regular—ridding my body of leftovers and toxins several times a day (TMI?). According to the American Cancer Society, Colon Cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. with 101,700 new cases a year. The more fiber you eat, the less junk you’re going to have hanging around in your colon which reduces your risk.
Aside from filling and cleansing fiber, vegetables are also high in essential vitamins and minerals. I’m a big advocate of meeting nutritional needs through food rather than tablets when I can.
Like leafy greens your chances of over-doing the veggies are slim to none. Get wild with your veggies. Challenge yourself to try a new one a week for a month. See how many different colors you can get in your salad. Veggies are fun!
Our favorites include:
- Bell peppers—green, red, orange, yellow
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Green peas
Sea Vegetables, which are very common over here in the East (Korea), are also a great addition to any salad. LISTEN TO THIS: Sea Vegetables contain 10 times the amount of calcium as cows milk! They also have more iron than red meat! Woo! Sea Vegetables are great! Some common forms are:
- Sea lettuce
3. Don’t forget the fruit!
I love having a little something sweet in my salad. Like vegetables, fruits deliver. They contain both macro and micro nutrients that your body longs for AND the sweetness that your taste buds delight in. We like to use:
- Fresh berries
- Dried berries
- Dried Cranberries
- Pomegranate Seeds
- Mandarin orange slices (fresh—not from a can)
4. Grains and Psuedograins:
We often just mix these straight into the salad or we eat them warm on the side. Our favorites are:
- Brown rice—high in magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins.
- Millet: Super easy to digest, high in B vitamins, magnesium, and the essential amino acid tryptophan.
- Spelt—Also rich in B’s and has 30% more protein than whole wheat
Psuedograins and not actually grains, they’re seeds. They are gluten free and easily digestible.
- Amaranth– High in calcium, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin A and C. It contains the amino acid lyisine. This delicious nutty/buttery tasting pseudograin has twice as much calcium as cows milk, ounce for ounce. Boo-ya Dairy Farmers of America.
- Quinoa—probably the one we consume most often. Consists of 20% protein, high in lysine, iron, and potassium. Also a good source of B’s!
Soaking nuts in water for a few hours and then draining and rinsing them will make them easier for your body to digest and increase their nutritional punch! After soaking and draining them you can store them in the fridge for easy access. To get the biggest nutrional bang for your calorie, use raw unsalted varieties. Our favorites on our salad are:
- Almonds: high in vitamin B2, fiber, and anti-oxidants
- Walnuts: Rich in B’s and also help maintain electrolyte levels—prolonging hydration
- Sunflower seeds: 22% protein, rich in trace minerals, anti-oxidants, and vitamin E.
When in the U.S. we also like:
- Macadamia nuts: omega-7 and omega 9!
Lastly, I toss the salad with some type of dressing. Most days this usually means just drizzling some extra-virgin olive oil or hemp oil, balsamic vinager, and lemon juice of the top and then mixing it all up. Some days I get fancy and make salad dressing using ingredients such as:
- One of the oils mentioned above
- Nutritional yeast (B-12)
- Lemon juice
- Apple Cider vinegar
- An array of spices