The Go-To Meal for Summer

Better NutritionJuly 2020

The Go-To Meal for Summer
Try 12 varieties of this delicious, versatile, nutritious, no-cook fast food.
MELISSA DIANE SMITH

Do you have a favorite meal that you rely on— something that is quick to fix, requires little effort, is healthy, and tastes good?

Particularly during the hot summer season, my go-to meal is, without a doubt, a main-course salad. It’s so simple to fix that I encourage you to make it your staple meal too.

I’m not talking about a boring bowl of iceberg lettuce with dressing poured on it. Instead, you can quickly combine assorted greens, chopped vegetables, cooked meat or seafood pieces, cheese, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and dressing in an almost endless variety of tasty mixtures. Plus, you can have fun doing it—and create a well-balanced meal at a fraction of the price of buying a take-out or restaurant salad! If you plan ahead by having meat or fish leftovers or by buying appropriate ready-to-use ingredients for the type of salad you want to make, you can often prepare the salad in as little as 5 minutes.

A main-dish salad is fast food that doesn’t require any cooking. It’s also healthy food that provides a nice mix of slow-burning carbs, protein, and fat that promotes steady blood sugar and energy levels. When you change up items from different food groups, each combination of ingredients provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals that promote health.

To create a super salad, my best advice is to follow your intuition to creatively pull together ingredients—including leftovers—in salad form. You also can use this guide to 12 basic types of salads for ideas. Try to buy the appropriate ingredients ahead of time, but don’t worry if you don’t have all of them. Half the fun is trying different ingredients and substitutions. Just by using whatever you have on hand, you can make a healthy and delicious salad anytime.

Popular Salads

While these are some of the most popular salads in American, they aren’t necessarily the best for you. Packed with cheese, meats, and thick dressings, these salads tend to be very heavy, especially in the summertime. When you make them at home, make them lighter by limiting processed meats, using minimal amounts of cheese, adding extra greens or other vegetables, and thinning out dressings with olive oil and/or lemon juice.

Chef Salad—This is an American salad consisting of hard-boiled eggs; one or more varieties of meat, such as ham and turkey; Swiss or cheddar cheese; cucumbers; tomatoes; and lettuce. To prepare this salad in a pinch, try ready-to-use, organic deli meat.

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July 2020