When you hear someone say, “I’ll just have a salad,” you might assume that person isn’t eating much for his or her meal. But according to research by the American Institute for Cancer Research, salads often provide more than enough calories for a single meal—especially when they’re loaded with fatty dressing, cheese or fried chicken—which is why they can be an unhealthy choice at a restaurant.
Of course salads can be healthy and provide sufficient amounts of fuel for performance. Not only are greens and vegetables full of necessary vitamins, they also contain a boatload of fiber to keep you feeling full longer. More important, you can knock out most, if not all, of your fruit and vegetable needs for the day with a Man Power Salad.
Follow these suggestions to make the ultimate Man Power Salad.
Picking a Lettuce
Generally speaking, the darker the green, the more nutritious it is. Any kind of leaf is fine, but spinach is a great choice; or combine spinach with a lighter and crispier lettuce like romaine or Boston for a mix of textures and flavors. Go with one to two cups of lettuce per serving.
Fuel Up With Proteins
To make your salad a true meal, toss in at least two sources of protein, aiming for approximately 20 grams. Options include slices of ham or turkey, low-fat cheese, hard boiled eggs, tuna, grilled chicken, chickpeas and edamame beans.
Variety With Veggies/Fruits
Add at least three different vegetables and/or fruits [not including your lettuce]. More colors mean more nutrients. Consider the following veggies and fruits in the various color groups.
Red—radishes, red peppers, tomatoes, apples, pomegranate seeds
Orange/Yellow—carrots, corn, tangerines, peaches
Blue/Purple—grapes, raisins, eggplant, blueberries
White—cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, potatoes
Green—broccoli, green beans, avocado
Don’t be afraid to throw in an extra punch with a starch like pasta, brown rice or croutons for additional carbohydrates. You can also top off your salad with sunflower seeds or almonds for healthy fat, or flax seed for some omega 3-s.
Healthy fat is an important component of your diet [learn more about it here], and it plays an important role in your body’s ability to absorb quality nutrients. Cheryl Zonkowski, director of sports nutrition at the University of Florida, recommends dressings that pour easily and are close to water in clarity, instead of creamy Ranch or Thousand Island. Watch the video above for more tips from Zonkowski on creating a Man Power Salad.