Do you eat 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily? Believe it or not, the USDA recommends eating 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1 ½-2 cups of fruit each day. Most of us fall far short of this goal on a regular basis. One way to help you increase your produce intake is to prepare veggie-based meals like salads ahead of time. Then, when you’re pressed for time or come home ravenous at the end of the day, all you have to do is throw the ingredients in a bowl and dinner is ready.
The five salads below all give you plenty of vegetables, as well including lots of heart healthy proteins and fats such as quinoa, nuts, olives and avocado to keep you full. Try packing one for lunch or even serving one as a main course for dinner a few nights a week. Convenience and variety are key to being able to stick with a healthy meal plan, eating your vegetables doesn’t have to be time consuming or boring!
Healthy Mexican Taco salad 2 cups chopped romaine or butter lettuce, can mix in chopped cabbage too ¼ avocado, diced 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered ¼ cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese 1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro 3 Tbsp. crunchy tortilla strips Use jarred salsa as salad dressing or drizzle with 1 Tbsp. ranch dressing
Goat cheese, beet and arugula salad 2 cups Arugula or baby spinach 1 oz. soft goat cheese 2 Tbsp. walnuts ½ cup diced apples ¼ cup diced canned beets 2 Tbsp. light raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette
Quinoa, cranberry and Feta salad *Cooked Quinoa will stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least 10 days, so cook ahead and add it to any favorite salad recipe for some extra protein 2 cups baby spinach ½ cup cooked Quinoa, cooled ¼ cup dried fruit such as craisins or dried cherries, chopped (in season I use fresh berries too) ¼ cup reduced fat feta cheese 2 Tbsp. sliced almonds or walnuts, whatever you have on hand 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette or fruity vinaigrette
Chilled Shrimp and Soba noodle (inspired by Panera) 2 cups spinach plus ½ cup chopped cabbage 7-8 large cooked shrimp, cooled and sliced lengthwise in half ½ cup cooked buckwheat soba noodles, chilled and cut into bite size pieces ¼ cup chopped bell pepper ¼ cup matchstick carrots 2 Tbsp. crunchy wonton strips sliced scallions or fresh chopped cilantro to top 2 Tbsp San-J Tamari peanut dressing (available in Martin’s organic aisle)
Greek salad 2 cups salad greens 5-6 pitted Greek olives, quartered ¼ cup diced cucumber ½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes ¼ cup reduced fat feta cheese 2 Tbsp. store bought Tzatziki sauce as dressing