Energy Boosting Salad
By Noor Salem, contributing columnist
I’ve come across many clients and workshop attendees who have an automatic belief that anything labeled “salad” on a restaurant menu is automatically deemed healthy. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and in fact some salads could come with high levels of unhealthy fats, additives, and preservatives. Take for example, the famous Caesar salad. This salad usually comes with a base of romaine lettuce, shredded cheese, croutons, and an overload of salad dressing. If it’s topped with deep fried chicken that is breaded, it’s only getting worse. The majority of salad dressings begin with a soybean or canola oil base. These oils are genetically modified, and come with negative health effects in the long run, including but not limited to allergies, food intolerance, infertility, cancer, and more. I highly advise all of my clients and friends alike to remove these oils from their home cooking. Instead, make a homemade salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil, such as in the recipe below.
While I am a big fan of salad, I just want to advise that you’re more cautious when dining out. Look at the menu carefully, and read what’s included. Many restaurants would be happy to include or omit any of the salad toppings or dressings. As I always recommend, there is nothing like homemade food. Making salad is not only easy, but could be fun. There are no rules to what you add–whether it’s a protein like chicken or some strawberries for an exotic twist. I personally love nut and fruit spring salads and for that highly recommend you try this delicious recipe.
Spinach and kale are both extremely healthy greens, boosting in vitamin K, A, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. They contain many benefits, including but not limited to satiety, eye healthy, cognitive health, preventing cancer, balancing blood sugar levels, and carry essential minerals like iron and copper. Try adding more greens to your meals, whether it’s a breakfast egg sandwich or your salad during lunchtime. Avocados are one of my favorite salad toppings, not only for their unique and delicious taste, but also for their health benefits. Avocados are extremely high in healthy fats, which explains why you’d feel so full after eating them. They contain fiber, amazing heart health benefits, eye health benefits, also aid in balancing your blood sugar levels. That causes your blood sugar levels not to spike after a meal, and decreases cravings. Avocados work well aside almost any meal, and I even love adding them to my smoothies!
As I’ve discussed last week, dates are more than just a Ramadan food item. Surely they are very sweet, but they come along with a myriad of health benefits. Dates prevent cancer, specifically colon cancer, prevent or ease constipation, anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and low energy. Yes, many people are aware that bananas are extremely high in potassium, but dates are even higher on the pedestal. Dates also contain some amazing anti-inflammatory benefits, so if you struggle with joint pain of any kind try incorporating more dates into your meals, either alone or on a salad such as in this recipe. Strawberries, and all berries alike, contain wonderful amounts of Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and a delectable taste. Best of all they have a high water content, and give a juicy taste to any spring salad.
The salad dressing in the recipe below by far beats any store bought or restaurant salad dressing. It’s actually high in healthy fats from the tahini and olive oil, which will grant you satiety after the meal. The chia seeds are very high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and contain high levels of magnesium, iron, and surprisingly to many, calcium. if you are lactose intolerant and cannot eat dairy products, I’d advise you try some chia seeds. you can add them to smoothies, eggs, salads such as this exotic fruit salad, or even your desserts. Many friends and family members are big fans of my chia pudding, and find it hard to believe something so delicious could actually be healthy.
You will definitely not regret trying this salad, and if you’re not a fan of any ingredient, replace it with something you like. if you don’t care for strawberries, toss in some blueberries instead. It tastes great if served chilled, but if it looks to delicious to wait feel free to dig right in. You’ll undoubtedly feel energized and great, due to a perfect combination of healthy ingredients.
2 cups spring greens salad mix [kale/spinach]
Half an avocado [sliced or chopped]
3 dates, chopped
4 strawberries, sliced
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon tahini sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of unrefined salt
pinch of black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
- Place the spring green mix in a serving platter. Top with remaining salad ingredients.
- in a small mixing bowl, stir together all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad. Serve immediately or chilled.
*This recipe has been adapted from Ahmed Mirza, a registered nurse in Texas who practices holistic living.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.