Unfortunately, many hold on to the belief that anything labeled “salad” on a restaurant menu is deemed healthy. This is not the case, and in fact, some salads could come with high levels of unhealthy fats, additives, and preservatives.
Take, for example, the famous Caesar salad. This salad usually comes with a base of romaine lettuce, shredded cheese, croutons, and an overload of unhealthy salad dressing. If it’s topped with deep-fried chicken that is breaded, it’s only getting worse for your physical health.
The majority of salad dressings begin with a soybean or canola oil base. These oils are genetically modified and come with negative health effects in the long run, including but not limited to allergies, food intolerance, infertility, cancer, and more. It’s highly recommended that you remove these oils from your kitchen pantries and shopping carts alike. Instead, make a homemade salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil, such as in the recipe below.
Tossing in cheese and croutons makes this an even worse decision for a meal. Croutons come with a long list of ingredients, possibly bleached flour, natural flavorings, MSG, and more. If you are a big fan of crunchy stuff in your salad, try brushing a pita bread with cold-pressed avocado oil and baking it in the oven until crispy and browned. Your taste buds won’t tell the difference, but your health in the long run sure will! Breaded chicken that’s deep-fried is incredibly detrimental to your health. Most bread crumbs are made of bleached flour, lacking in necessary nutrients for your body. Deep frying chicken not only depletes you of its health benefits but raises the saturated and Trans-fat levels of your meal dramatically. Grilled chicken can be just as tasty of marinated and cooked properly. Another option is to make your own homemade breaded chicken and bake it for a change. Don’t be fooled into thinking anything labeled salad is an automatic health food.
So, importantly, even if you are a big fan of salad, be more cautious when dining out. Look at the menu carefully, and read what’s included. Many restaurants would be happy to include or omit any of the salad toppings or dressings. Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, there is nothing like homemade food. Making salad is not only easy but could be fun. There are no rules to what you add-whether it’s a protein like chicken or some strawberries for an exotic twist. This salad is the perfect combination of spring greens, topped with protein and a crunchy touch of nuts.
Spinach and kale are both extremely healthy greens- boosting in Vitamin K, A, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. They contain many benefits, including but not limited to satiety, eye health, cognitive health, preventing cancer, balancing blood sugar levels, and carry essential minerals like iron and copper. Try adding more greens to your meals, whether it’s a breakfast egg sandwich or your salad during lunchtime. Avocadoes are one of the best salad toppings, not only for their unique and delicious taste but also for their health benefits. Avocadoes are extremely high in healthy fats, which explains why you’d feel so full after eating them. They contain fiber, amazing heart health benefits, eye health benefits, also aid in balancing your blood sugar levels. That causes your blood sugar levels not to spike after a meal and decreases cravings. Avocadoes work well aside almost any meal, and even work wonderfully if you add them to smoothies!
Keep in mind, dates are more than just a Ramadan food item. They are very sweet in taste and come along with a myriad of health benefits. Dates prevent cancer, specifically colon cancer, prevent or ease constipation, anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and low energy. Yes, many people are aware that bananas are extremely high in potassium, but dates are even higher on the pedestal. Dates also contain some amazing anti-inflammatory benefits, so if you struggle with the joint pain of any kind, try incorporating more dates into your meals, either alone or on a salad such as in this recipe. Strawberries and all berries alike contain wonderful amounts of Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and a delectable taste. Best of all they have a high water content and give a juicy taste to any spring salad.
The salad dressing is by far better than any store bought or restaurant salad dressing. It’s actually high in healthy fats from the tahini and olive oil, which will grant you satiety after the meal. The chia seeds are very high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and contain high levels of magnesium, iron, and surprisingly to many, calcium. If you are lactose intolerant and cannot eat dairy products, try to add some chia seeds. You can add them to smoothies, eggs, salads such as this exotic fruit salad, or even your desserts.
You will definitely not regret trying this salad for a change. If you don’t care for strawberries, toss in some blueberries instead. It tastes great if served chilled, but if it looks too delicious to wait, feel free to dig right in. You’ll undoubtedly feel energized and great, due to a perfect combination of healthy and energizing ingredients.
4 cups spring greens salad mix [kale/spinach]
One avocado [sliced or chopped]
¼ cup dates, chopped
1 cup strawberries, sliced
½ cup dry-roasted pistachios
1 ½ tablespoons homemade tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
½ tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
Pinch of black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
Place the spring green mix in a presentable serving platter. Top with remaining salad ingredients.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad. Serve immediately or chilled. Enjoy!
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.