Let our 18+ SALAD PRIMER be your guide to eating healthy, with our list of choice ingredients that you should be adding to your next salad.
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We’re proud of the fact that our salad posts are some of the most popular content on Weekend at the Cottage. Like you, we believe it’s super important to include an assortment of fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutrient-rich ingredients in our diets to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We also think this the perfect time to share our top picks of things we all should be trying to include in our diets, especially when crafting the all-important salad.
We’ve divided our top ingredient picks into categories; add one or more item from each category, then toss up something original and fabulous with one of the three easy-to-prepare vinaigrettes we’ve provided.
Regular readers know the importance we place on using quality ingredients. For this post, we went to our friends at URBAN FRESH PRODUCE in St. Lawrence Market. Although we did a ton of research, we turned to them to source the finest, freshest organic offerings. We encourage those of you living in Toronto to visit URBAN FRESH; Anthony, Louis, Bianca and Fiona are all knowledgeable and they love helping shoppers find exactly what they need to create something delicious.
Now, on with the list. Choose one or more item from each category and use them in their raw, uncooked state. Don’t limit yourself only to the items on this list – feel free to add your favourites too!
GREENS – We think of greens as the base of every great salad and suggest allowing 2 cups of greens per guest.
Spinach – One of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, loaded with vitamins A and K and an excellent source of dietary fibre.
Kale – This nutrient-dense green is very low in cholesterol and good for your heart. It also contains potassium, copper, calcium and vitamins A, C, K and B6.
Collard Greens – Among the best vitamin C foods, this green is an excellent source of fibre, plus contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties.
Swiss Chard – Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, Swiss chard is an excellent source of thiamin, folate and zinc plus, vitamins A, C and E.
Microgreens – These tiny greens are mighty – in fact, they offer up to 40 times the levels of nutrients than their mature counterparts. They have the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie of any food.
VEGETABLES – Vegetables add colour, crunch, and of course, high levels of essential nutrients and vitamins. We suggest adding 1 cup of raw vegetables for every guest.
Carrots – They say the carrot is the perfect health food and an excellent source of beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.
Broccoli – High in dietary fibre, as well as vitamins A, B1, B6, E and manganese, phosphorus, potassium and copper. Broccoli is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and iron.
Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins C and K. They’re also a very good source of folate, manganese, dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sweet Potatoes – Action-packed with beta-carotene and a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, and vitamin B6. They also provide potassium, dietary fibre and niacin.
Kohlrabi – This oft-overlooked veggie gets top marks for being very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s also a very good source of dietary fibre, potassium, copper and manganese.
NUTS & SEEDS – Sprinkling nuts and seeds on your salad adds flavour and healthy fats. We suggest adding 1 tablespoon of nuts and 1 tablespoon of seeds for each guest.
Almonds – Every ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre, as well magnesium, riboflavin and calcium.
Walnuts – Walnuts are richer in linoleic acid than most other nuts and also contain a relatively high percentage of healthy omega-3 fat.
Pecans – One ounce of nutrient-dense pecans contain provides 10% of the recommended daily value for fibre and more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.
Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds reputedly contribute to a sense of well-being and are an excellent source of vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin.
Pumpkin Seeds – They contain plant compounds known as phytosterols, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. They have free-radical scavenging antioxidants and nutrients such as manganese, copper, protein and zinc.
PROTEINS – We suggest adding a bit of protein – 4 to 6 ounces – to turn your salad into a complete meal.
Salmon – Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium plus niacin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B6.
Chicken – Low in sodium, chicken is also a good source of vitamin B6, phosphorus, niacin and selenium.
Tofu (bean curd) – Tofu contains all eight essential amino acids and is an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
FRUIT – Fruit adds colour, texture and sometimes a needed bit of sweetness to a salad. We like adding at least ¼ cup of fruit per guest to a salad.
Blueberries – An entire cup of antioxidant-rich blueberries contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates. It’s low in calories, but high in fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K.
Apples – Apples are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol; one medium-sized apple has less than 100 calories.
Grapefruit – Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamins A and C plus copper, potassium, biotin and phytochemicals including limonoids and lycopene. Grapefruit reputedly helps with weight loss.
Pomegranate – Pomegranates are rich in antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-tumour properties, plus are said to be good sources of vitamins A, C, and E.
Avocado – One-third of a medium-sized avocado has 80 calories and is loaded with essential, healthy fatty acids. Avocados are naturally free of sodium, sugar and cholesterol.
ADD-ONS – We suggest adding a bit of both, finely chopped, into your salads or vinaigrettes.
Ginger – Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Garlic – Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6, manganese, selenium, calcium, potassium, iron and copper.
VINAIGRETTES – We suggest preparing these vinaigrettes and keeping them in containers in your fridge for quick and easy access.
Simple Lemon – Whisk together ⅔ cup vegetable oil, ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice and 1 small shallot finely chopped. Add Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Sesame-Miso – Whisk together ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons miso paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine or plum vinegar, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil and 1 teaspoon grated ginger.
Roasted Cherry Tomato – Drizzle 1 cup of cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and roast at 350°F for 20 minutes. Mash with 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 finely chopped shallot and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Add salt to taste.
There you have it – the most popular ingredients we suggest you use in creating a healthy, nutrient-rich salad. If you have an incredible salad creation that you think our readers should try, please share it, along with any pics in the comment section of this post. Thanks!
The best salads are ready to be enjoyed, and our 18+ SALAD PRIMER is the essential go-to post. Here’s to healthy eating!
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