You love side salads during the summer, but they hardly fill you up—not even a little bit!
Well, that may be because you’re not adding the right ingredients!
A typical salad made of, say, iceberg lettuce with shredded cheddar cheese and bacon bits sprinkled on top isn’t going to cut it (and isn’t that good for you).
Much better: There are certain ingredients that you can use to transform any dull salad into a tasty, hearty one that’s nutritious and utterly satisfying, according to Christine Avanti, a certified nutritionist and trained chef, author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food and a health consultant on the Food Network TV show Fat Chef.
She shared her techniques to deliciously bulk up any side salad…and a recipe, too…
To give a meager side salad a makeover and convert it into something robust, Avanti recommends that you incorporate three key elements—lean protein, fiber and unsaturated and omega-3 fats. (This is much easier than it sounds, as you’ll see.) Your body digests protein and fiber more slowly, and that keeps blood sugar levels more stable, so you’ll feel satisfied longer. Unsaturated and omega-3 fats (a.k.a., the “good” fats) also are filling because they’re caloric, but these types of fats won’t raise your risk for cardiovascular problems the way that saturated or trans fats do.
Quinoa is one of Avanti’s favorite whole grains and, she says, it’s become a popular ingredient in salads. That’s a good thing—this chewy seed handed down to us from the ancient Incans is fiber- and protein-rich and tastes especially good when mixed with the Asian-style ingredients (and the tangy, olive oil-rich dressing) in Avanti’s recipe below. Just make sure that you rinse the quinoa first in cold water using a fine strainer to get rid of the bitter saponin coating.
Asian Quinoa Salad (Serves 4)
½ cup quinoa
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
½ cup diced cucumber
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Combine the quinoa and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Spoon the quinoa into a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the bell pepper, scallions, and cucumber, and toss to combine. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, agave, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Add to quinoa mixture and toss well. Top with the sesame seeds and cilantro.
Nutrition facts per ⅔-cup serving: 238 calories, 6 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat
This recipe is reprinted from Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food © 2012 by Christine Avanti. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.Source: Christine Avanti is a certified nutritionist, a trained chef, nutrition director and executive chef at Passages rehabilitation center in Malibu, California, and author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food: Kick Your Fake Food Habit, Kickstart Your Weight Loss (Rodale) and a health consultant on the Food Network show Fat Chef.