Eating a variety of different plants is good for your body in so many ways, but sometimes it's hard to get enough. Adding variety to your diet can help prevent boredom and can encourage you to eat more veggies!
I know that my family has been stuck in a rut with our salads lately, so we started to spice it up a little bit. Instead of simply using mixed greens at the base of the salad, we have tried sliced red and green cabbage, grated beets, greens, swiss chard, kale, shredded carrots, microgreens, beet greens, cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, endive, and dandelion greens. (See the pictures below for some salads we've enjoyed recently.)
Let's explore the benefits of eating a variety of vegetables and see why the bright colored ones are so powerful.
The More the Merrier
Vegetables are loaded with great nutrients for your body. Let's look a just a few benefits of eating a lot of vegetables
- Vegetables give the body high levels of phytonutrients & antioxidants. Our bodies need phytonutrients and antioxidants to deal with free radicals, preventing them from causing damage in the body.
- Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
- Vegetables provide the body with necessary fiber.
- Vegetables provide the body with prebiotics which feed the good bacteria in your gut. Many people are aware that probiotics are important for gut health, but a recent study found that prebiotics are even more important. Since 70% of the immune system is believed to reside in the gut it is extremely important to keep our gut flora balanced by feeding the good bacteria.
Bright Colored Veggies
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds produced by plants. The beautiful colors of fruits and vegetables are derived from these chemicals, and they are known to have protective properties.
In addition to making the plants pretty, they have an important role in defending the plant against dangers. Phytochemicals act as the plants immune system protecting them from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and pests. Since plants can’t run away or go to the doctor's office, they need phytochemicals help them stay healthy.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Bland, there are many health benefits for us when we consume the phytochemicals in these plants. Bland explains that "when eaten by humans, (phytochemicals) have effects upon immuno-rejuvenation". This goes beyond simply supporting your immune system, and actually helps your immune system heal so it can function more effectively.
How many colors of veggies you can get on your plate today!!
How to Build a Salad
There's no need for a fancy recipe!
- Just grab a base (or combine several!) - spinach, lettuce, sliced red or green cabbage, grated beets, beet greens, sliced fennel, swiss chard, kale, shredded carrots, microgreens, cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, endive, and dandelion greens, or any other veggie you enjoy.
- Add some brightly colored chopped fruits and veggies on top. Just a few ideas here are tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears, cucumber, zucchini, onion, shallot, avocado, oranges, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, peaches, dried cranberries, shredded beets, broccoli olives, mushrooms, and anything else you can think of!
- If the salad is your main course be sure to add a protein (fish, chicken, steak, pork, eggs, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds are just a few ideas)
- Add a fat- this can be something like avocado, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, and the fat in meat, eggs or fish. Additionally, making your own dressing is a great way to add good fats!
I challenge you to pull out any salad dressing bottle in your fridge and read the ingredients. They are notoriously horrible! They often use cheap/rancid oils like canola oil, have lots of added sugars, and lots hard to pronounce ingredients that are great for shelf life, but not so great for you! The good news is that making your own dressing is super easy! I was intimidated at first, but now I stir together a quick dressing every time I make a salad.
Here is my simple recipe for making your own dressing. Mix together
-Healthy oil (Olive and avocado oil are my favorites)- 1-2 TBSP +
-An acid (lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc.) 1 TBSP.
-Optional add ins: Salt, pepper, honey, mustard, berries like raspberries, garlic, dill, oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, avocado oil mayo for a creamy dressing, etc.)
Most people would benefit from eating a lot more vegetables than they currently do! Consider adding a few more to your diet this week and don't for get to eat the rainbow! Your body will thank you.
I would love to hear what interesting ingredients you are using in your salads! What do you use or think you may try?