Hey there! Can you believe we’re already approaching the end of June! Where did the time go? Hopefully you’ve been following along with us this month enjoying our collab with Crisp, one of our favorite spots to pick up a healthy and delicious salad located in NW Portland. Let’s do a quick rundown - week one we featured Megan’s favorite, the Kaleo Paleo, week two Emma’s Detox Salad, last week the Beet Poke Salad, and for our fourth and final week, we’re finishing up with the Spring Asparagus Salad with Beef Tenderloin, or tempeh if you order our vegan meals. One of the things that we love about Crisp is their focus on making salads satisfying and more than just a pile of greens, in addition to all of the yummy and nutritious components they strategically add to help optimize your health.
As our collaboration comes to a close, I’m feeling extra inspired by Crisp and their creations, and thought I’d share with you my top tips for building a better salad to fill in during the week between your Fit Kitchen Direct meals!
Any favorite salad greens will do, just choose what looks best at you local market and mix it up. I like to choose a few different greens to throw into my salads because they all lend unique flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles. But don’t stop just at your typical lettuces, spinach, arugula, and kale; try adding shaved brussels sprouts, a little detoxifying dandelion greens, or a bunch of fresh herbs. Not only will herbs add a huge flavor punch, but they are packed full of antioxidants!
The more color and variety of produce, the greater the range of nutrients you’ll be adding to your salad. Red, orange, yellow, green, and purple vegetables often contain different vitamins, minerals and other healing properties from their wide range of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Plus that rainbow of veggies is pleasing to the eye, so your mouth is sure to be watering far before you take the first bite. Don’t feel like you need to go all raw too, I like roasting up some vegetables ahead of time and throwing them into salads for a completely different flavor profile. Aim for at least 2 types of whole vegetables in each salad. My go-to, each week at the market I make sure to pick up one vegetable in each color to ensure that I’m not stuck in a produce (or color) rut. Try it out for yourself!
Don’t forget the fruit! Adding a whole different set of nutrients, flavor and texture to your salad, fruit can take your salad to another level and make it seem extra special. Aim for whole fruits instead of their dried counterparts that are often quite high in sugar. One of my favorites to add is pomegranate seeds - they have that perfect crunch and burst of juicy tart flavor plus they contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may support heart health. Don’t forget the avocados too; just a few slices will add a perfect creaminess and help keep you full longer because fats take longer to digest.
Adding a grain to your salad can be a great way to ensure you are left feeling satisfied. Some of my go-tos are quinoa, farro, and couscous. But don’t fret if you don’t want to use grains, adding in a filling, fiber-rich carb source, such as roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes, does the trick just the same!
The difference between a mere starter salad and a meal on its own? The protein! Without protein, your salad won’t hold you very long. Be aware of your choices, as a misstep here can turn a healthy salad into a calorie bomb. Go for lean sources of protein such as grilled chicken, turkey, fish, legumes, hard-boiled eggs, tempeh or tofu. Aim for ½ cup of legumes or tofu, 2 ounces of meat or seafood, or 1 egg.
Nuts and seeds make a great addition to any salad adding a perfect amount of crunch and added protein, fiber, and healthy fats. You don’t need a lot either, I recommend 2-3 tablespoons of chopped nuts and seeds. Two of my absolute favorites, hemp seeds and walnuts!
Dressing is your friend when it comes to a salad. All of these powerhouse vegetables and fruits that we’ve loaded into the salad won’t be full taken advantage of unless we add some fat to help them out. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins meaning they need fat to be absorbed and utilized within our body. Making the perfect dressing is easy and really fun! In a small jar, combine ¼ cup acid (lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar) + ¾ cup oil (olive oil, walnut oil, avocado oil) + 1 tablespoon emulsifier (hummus, greek yogurt, ground flax, mustard, mashed avocado) + 1-2 teaspoons flavorings (fresh or dried herbs, red pepper flake, pepper, honey). Shake it up and you’re good to go! Get creative with the basic formula and cater it to your taste profile! Lastly, make sure to not overdress your salad. Nothing is more sad than a soggy salad! You really only need 2 tablespoons, and remember, you can always add more but can’t take some away!
Let's checkout how Fit Kitchen Direct put a little flare on Crisp’s Spring Asparagus Salad! The salad starts off with a bed of spring mesclun greens and romaine lettuce. On top of that, we’re adding grilled spring asparagus, marinated cherry tomatoes, and roasted red onion. Can’t forget the protein either, we’re stacking it up with beef tenderloin and a hard boiled egg, plus an extra flavor boost from everyone’s favorite, bacon! To tie it all together, an herbaceous taste explosion from our creamy chimichurri dressing. Make sure to get your order in by Thursday, June 21st, so you don’t miss out on the last salad from our Crisp collaboration, the Spring Asparagus Salad. And keep tagging us in your photos on instagram (@fitkitchendirect), we love to see what you’re all up to!
Melanie Matta, MScN