To me, there’s nothing better than a salad to cleanse the palate after too much rich holiday food. There’s something about a fresh, crisp bowl of greens and fruit that feels like a reset button. And with January resolutions around the corner, a lot of people are going to be counting on salads to help them overhaul their eating habits. The very best salads are satisfying and loaded with health-boosting nutrients–but too often they’re a missed opportunity. Be sure you’re building the best healthy apple salads possible by using these tips:
Start with a nutritious green.
By now most people know that iceberg lettuce, while perfectly nice for an occasional wedge salad, isn’t exactly a superfood. There are many more varieties of greens that pack a much bigger nutritional punch. Even romaine, which is still mild tasting, has a lot more vitamin C and even some calcium. Darker-colored greens will typically be healthier than paler ones, but using a variety in your salads means you’ll be getting a wider range of nutrients overall.
Include a protein.
When people complain that salads aren’t filling, it’s usually because their combination doesn’t have any staying power. Protein is one of the most filling nutrients you can add to a salad. And while grilled chicken, salmon, or leftover steak from the fridge are all great picks with high-quality protein, the protein doesn’t have to come from meat, poultry, or fish. Nuts, seeds, baked tofu, beans, lentils, hard-boiled egg, and quinoa all offer protein too.
Don’t forget fresh fruit.
Some salads are piled with dried fruit like cranberries or cherries to add flavor and color. But dried fruit also adds a lot of calories—and if your goal is to lose or simply maintain weight in the coming year, that might not be smart. Using fresh fruit like apples instead will impart the same kind of sweetness. But since apples are loaded with water and fiber and take up more space than dried fruit, they’re much more satisfying for a lot fewer calories.
Even just a quarter-cup of a nutritious grain can make a salad more filling and offer extra fiber, protein, and vitamins. Farro, quinoa, and wild rice are all good choices and can be made ahead in bulk and chilled so they’re ready for salads all week.
Here are some healthy apple salads to consider:
Kale + Piñata Apples + Quinoa + Walnuts
Arugula + Fuji Apples + Lentils + Parmesan
Spinach + Granny Smith Apples + Chicken + Pecans + Red Onion