During the sizzling days of summer when it's too hot to cook, the natural meal to make is a super salad.
The great news about salads is they can supply complete, balanced nutrition, and we can make them as diverse as we are. To create a satisfying assortment of innovative salads this summer, we often just need to be reminded of all the ingredients we have to play with and the many ways we can combine them. Try these tips:
Vary Your Greens, Veggies, Meats, and Dressings
Keep salads interesting by using romaine or red or green leaf lettuce one time, and arugula or butter lettuce and spinach, the next. Add different supporting vegetables (e.g., sliced beets and shredded carrot; chopped red onion and bell pepper; sliced radishes and cucumber; roasted asparagus; or mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes), different sources of protein (e.g., leftover chopped chicken, pork, lamb, beef, game meats, shrimp, or fish; gluten-free turkey, ham, or roast beef deli meat; gluten-free canned tuna or salmon; hard-boiled eggs; cheese; or beans), and different homemade or gluten-free dressings. If you explore the combinations, salads won't ever become boring.
Use Flavorful Crouton Substitutes
To add crunch to salads, forgo croutons in favor of more nutritious tasty alternatives. Try crumbling Mary's Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs-or flax crackers in varieties such as Italian-on salads. Or do the same with Kaia Foods Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips, a savory vitamin A-rich topper. For a rich, gourmet taste, toast chopped or slivered nuts in the oven and add them to salads.
Let your taste buds travel this summer with different types of cuisine. You could go Greek with a Greek chicken salad (use romaine lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives, and a red wine vinaigrette); or French with niçoise salad (use Bibb lettuce, tuna, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cooked green beans, tomatoes, capers, potatoes, and a vinaigrette); or Chinese with a gluten-free Chinese chicken salad (use lettuce, shredded chicken, bok choy, napa cabbage, green onions, toasted sliced almonds, and Bragg Ginger & Sesame Dressing).
Include Fresh Fruit
An especially refreshing, moisture-rich addition to summer salads is a small amount of fresh fruit. Chopped apples go nicely in many salads, but also try adding seasonal fruits of summer, such as raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, cherries, peaches, or nectarines.
Try Kelp Noodles or Quinoa
For a change of pace from green salads, create gluten-free pasta salads or tabbouleh with nutrient-rich Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles or cooked quinoa (or even brown rice) in place of wheat-based pasta or couscous. Add leftover fish or fowl, colorful vegetables, fresh herbs (such as mint and parsley), and a lemon-juice- or vinegar-based dressing to make a light, satisfying meal.
CHICKEN and STRAWBERRY SALAD with CILANTRO-LIME DRESSING*
¼ cup chopped pecans
3 cups organic romaine lettuce or mixed baby greens
5 cooked chicken strips or ²⁄³ cup cubed or chopped turkey breast
½ cup sliced hulled fresh organic strawberries
¼ cup shredded carrots
4 jicama sticks or 4 hearts of palm, chopped (optional)
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1½ Tbs. fresh lime juice
1½ Tbs. fresh orange juice
¼ tsp. unrefined sea salt
- To make Salad: Toast pecans in 325°F oven 5 to 7 minutes. Divide lettuce between two plates.
- To make Dressing: purée all ingredients in blender.
- Top each Salad with chicken, strawberries, carrots, toasted pecans, and jicama sticks; and drizzle on Dressing.
PER SERVING: 446 CAL; 13 G PROT; 40 G TOTAL FAT (5 G SAT FAT); 12 G CARB; 27 MG CHOL; 555 MG SOD; 4 G FIBER; 5 G SUGARS
*Recipe reprinted from Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating, by Melissa Diane Smith.