As May comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of this being National Salad Month. As the whether heats up, it’s normal to want to cool down with your food choices. Salads offer a nutrient-packed way to cool down while helping you pack in your daily fiber and vitamin needs. One of the reasons I love salads so much is that they offer constant variety. By changing the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and protein options you incorporate, you can have an entirely new meal option each and every day.
All salads are not created equal, however. Some restaurant salads can pack in a full days worth of calories and sodium if you aren’t careful! Additives such as crunchy salad noodles, creamy dressings, cheese, and sugar coated nuts and fruit can drive the calorie content of your salad up while reducing the nutritional content. To gain all of the benefits of salads without unnecessary amounts of added sodium, sugar, or saturated fats, follow a few simple tips:
Top Tips for a Nutritious Salad
- Make the focus of your salad vegetables and fruits
- Choose to have your dressing on the side to control your portions
- Select a plant-based oil for your dressing, such as vinegar and olive oil, over a creamy variety
- Watch your toppings! Crunchy noodles, cheese, and candied nuts can add large amounts of calories, sugar, and fat. Opt instead of dry roasted nuts, seeds, and no-sugar-added dried fruit for a crunchy topping.
- Add protein. A veggie only salad will leave you hungry after a short period of time. By incorporating a protein choice such as grilled chicken or fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, or edamame, you can ensure you salad will keep you full for hours to come
Salads can include a variety of ingredients such as meat, nuts, vegetables and fruit and can be served as a lunch/dinner snack. Eating a salad is a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet while also enjoying some of your favorite foods in one bowl. It can also increase your vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein intake as well as satisfying your appetite with a light and flavorful meal. So in honor of National Salad month, here’s three salad recipes that are simple, delicious and packed full of nutrients!
Strawberry Feta Salad
- 12-ounce package of Spring Mix (or your favorite leafy greens)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- 2-ounces crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- Wash spring mix and place in large bowl.
- Add strawberries, dried cranberries and walnuts. Mix well.
- Sprinkle feta cheese and dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated. Serve and enjoy!
Tropical Fruit Salad
- 1 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 medium apple, diced
- 1 papaya, seeds and scooped
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- shredded coconut
- Cut fruit ingredients into bite sized pieces.
- Add cut fruit to large bowl and pour honey and shredded coconut on top.
- Mix well and enjoy!
Grape, Celery and Walnut Salad
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 3 celery stalks, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
- In large mixing bowl combine red grapes, sliced celery, walnuts and yogurt. Mix until grapes and celery are evenly coated with yogurt. Add walnuts to the mix and stir until evenly coated or enjoy walnuts on top of salad.
No matter how busy your morning may be, it’s essential that you make time for breakfast. Eating breakfast has been linked with everything from a reduction in disease risk, to more nutritious food choices throughout the day, as well as an increase in productivity and cognitive functioning. But not just any breakfast will do. Grabbing a nutritionally limited option While eating any breakfast is better than skipping breakfast altogether (as 15 percent of Americans do regularly) so choices are certainly better than others. A well-balanced breakfast rich in slow digested carbohydrates, lean protein, lowfat dairy, and produce makes the best choice for starting your day off in a healthy way.
Even on the busiest mornings, you can make breakfast work for you no matter what the day throws at you. I recently came across belVita Breakfast Biscuits (the sponsor of this post) and have loved incorporating them into my breakfast routine. Whether I am on the run or enjoying a relaxing meal, I am thrilled that these whole grain biscuits provide me with a good amount of fiber and vitamins in a portion-controlled package. They may a great foundation for a balanced breakfast. That’s why I wanted to share with you some of my favorite morning pairings. Whether you are on the go, at your desk, or enjoying a leisurely breakfast in bed, try these great tasting breakfast options for all day energy.
At the office
If an early morning deadline leaves you struggling to find a quick and healthy option you can eat at your desk, look no further than a delicious combination of a blueberry crunchy belVita Breakfast Biscuits along with a lowfat latte and a cup of fresh grapes. One of the reasons belVita is my go to breakfast option for busy work mornings is that it has been formulated to preserve slow-release carbohydrates which provide four hours of nutritious, steady energy. This means you won’t get an energy spike and crash after eating than if you were to have a refined carbohydrate breakfast . Combine belVita with a lowfat dairy option such as a lowfat latte along with a bowl full of fresh fruit like grapes and you have a nutrient rich breakfast that will work for you for hours to come.
On the Go
Missed the alarm? Even if you are running late, that’s still no excuse to miss breakfast. Take breakfast with you so you can have the energy to get you through what is sure to be a busy day ahead. One of my favorites for an on the go breakfast is a yogurt parfait made with fresh strawberries, lowfat yogurt, and belVita Bites. Not only is this meal pretty to look at, but it tastes delicious and provides a good source of whole grains, fiber, and iron. Most Americans fall short on eating enough whole grains, eating on average less than 16g whole grain per day versus the recommended 48g or more of whole grain throughout day. By simply adding in belVita Breakfast Biscuit Bites to your parfait, you can enjoy 18-20 grams of whole grains in that one meal for long-term energy that will keep you going. You can even make these parfaits in advance for a breakfast you can grab even when you are running behind schedule.
Breakfast In Bed
If you are lucky enough to be treated to a leisurely breakfast in the comfort of your own bed, select delicious options that are packed full of good for you nutrients. It can be easy to reach for refined flour pancakes or waffles dripping in syrup, but swapping these options for a choice such as cinnamon belVita Breakfast Biscuits makes a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting your intake of whole grains and fiber. Try pairing this with a spinach and feta omelet along with a side of fresh berries for a Mediterranean-style breakfast that will provide you with long term energy while making both your heart and taste buds happy.
And to round out a full weekday’s worth of breakfast options, I wanted to include two of my family’s favorite breakfast recipes. These options are perfect for making ahead of time. Just simply put them on a plate or grab them for the car. There’s no excuse to skip breakfast anymore!
Make Ahead Breakfast
If you know the week at hand will be a crazy one, why not plan in advance by pre-making a breakfast you can just grab and go with in the morning? One easy option is my Veggie Breakfast Muffins. In a muffin tin, simply add whisked egg, vegetables, cubed whole grain bread, and lowfat cheese, then bake at 400 degrees for 15minutes. When finished, you can store these in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for two months for a ready to eat breakfast option you can just warm and serve.
For the Donut Lover
Ever since my son was introduced to what a donut was, he has been obsessed. And who can blame him? A sweet, frosted treat in the morning can definitely satisfy the sweet tooth. But a traditional donut packed full of added fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates is not the way to set you up for an energy-packed day. Instead, all of that sugar will just case a quick burst of energy followed by a crash, not to mention an increased desire for sweets all day long. So what’s a donut lover to do? Give your donut a makeover with my High Protein Donut with Chocolate Frosting. It’s packed full of whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein to give you what you need to start your day off on the right foot. Who says your can’t have your donut and eat it too?
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by belVita Breakfast Biscuits. All opinions are my own.
Today marks the day we celebrate the incredible blessing of our Earth! With so many ways to commemorate this day, I decided to turn to my amazing intern Kelly and ask her how she plans to spend the day:
From Kelly: Many children don’t know where their food comes from. Earth Day (which is today!) is the perfect springboard to teach them the basics of how to grow food. Start small and go to your local grocery store to buy herb plants that can be found in the produce section. I like to add fresh herbs to my meals for more color and flavor; for example, you can add basil leaves to pasta dishes or buy mint for fresh watermelon salad. Carefully cultivated, these plants can live for months and can give you the opportunity to talk about sustainability.
Kelly’s Earth Day Fresh Fruit & Mint Salad
- 1 lb. strawberries, cut in half
- 6 oz. red raspberries, rinsed
- 6 oz. blueberries, rinsed
- 3 pears, rinsed and cut into cubes
- 1 bunch fresh mint, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and serve cool.