You can always tell a raw foodist by their salad bowl. If you spy someone eating what they consider to be a single serving of salad out of a bowl meant to serve 6….well, it’s a tell tale sign. The truth of the matter is if you’re on a raw path, or even just a healthy eating path, green salads will likely become a daily staple in your diet. A fully loaded salad bowl will provide minerals, healthy fats, proteins, delicious savory flavors and endless variation. And if you combine your ingredients in a balanced and hearty way, your salad can leave you satisfied for hours.
Here you’ll learn the fundamentals of making an epic and filling salad: the best base ingredients along with variations that you can tailor to your bodies unique needs and your own specific taste buds.
The base of any great green salad is the fresh greens themselves. Try branching out from the standard lettuce family and try incorporating more hearty leafy greens like kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, and cabbages. These varieties tend to have a higher percentage of nutrients such as minerals, (kale has more iron per calorie than beef!), essential fatty acids, antioxidants, critical vitamins like Vitamin K and C, fiber and even protein. If the thought of a bowl of straight raw kale is too much right now, simply try mixing these in with your chopped romaine or butter leaf.
The Importance of Fats and Protein
If your salad doesn’t contain a hefty dose of added healthy fats and protein, your likely going to be left feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Make sure you are including healthy oils such a cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, or hemp seed oil, and essential fatty acid-rich ingredients like hemp seeds, avocado, blue-green algae (check out Amazing Algae from Veggimins!), raw olives, and/or soaked nuts and seeds. Don’t skimp! Making sure you have several protein and fat sources in your salad ensures that your body is getting the essential amino and fatty acids it needs for tissue repair, nervous system and hormonal health, and a strong immune system.
Adding Color and Texture
Salads should be pretty! Add in a variety of vegetables with different color schemes to not only ensure you get a variation of phytonutrients, but also give your eyes something to feast on while you eat (digestion begins with the eyes!) Try adding finely chopped purple cabbage or cauliflower, fresh sprouts, heirloom carrots, tomatoes, and red or orange bell peppers. These ingredients also have the benefit of being low in calories yet high in both water and fiber – and will ensure your tummy feels full.
Greens tend to be bitter, a taste that can be very off putting to many taste buds which aren’t yet accustomed to it. This is where flavor balancing becomes very important. The best way to help balance out bitter is by bringing into the mix other tastes sensations: fatty, salty, tart (acidic) and even sweet. Most salad dressings contain all of these elements, and help balance out the natural bitterness of greens. We recommend making fresh dressings to avoid the common preservatives, processed sugars, and table salts found in bottled dressings. You can find many recipes here on our site! However, if you’re too pressed for time (or are just feeling a wee bit lazy – we’ve all been there) simply put your undressed salad in a large bowl and add in a dash of olive oil, a shake of nama shoyu or pinch of Himalayan salt, a generous squeeze of lemon (and/or orange), and even a drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup if your pallet requires a bit more sweet.
Don’t Forget about Herbs!
Herbs can add an amazing variety of fresh flavor, and really kick your salads up a notch. Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil and oregano also have incredible healing and cleansing benefits. Oregano is high in anti-viral compounds. Cilantro is incredible for detoxing heavy metals. Parsley is rich with Vitamin C. Basil helps fight free radicals with powerful antioxidants.
Here are a few recipes to get your started – and feel free to doctor them up with even more toppings such as added olives, hemp seeds, or avocado.
For more hearty salad recipes – visit our Recipe Section, where you can search salads by category or search by ingredient such as kale, cabbage, or spinach.