As summer weather turns hot and sticky, you might be trying to turn down the temperature at mealtime. Craving something cool and refreshing goes hand in hand with summer, and salads are a great way to keep the sweat off your brow come dinner. But salads aren’t just an afterthought side dish anymore. There are lots of creative and delicious ways to make your summer salad the centerpiece of your meal, while sticking to your medical weight loss plan. Read on for ideas to get you inspired:
Make summer’s produce the star. Ok, this one might seem obvious. But when was the last time you threw fresh blueberries or strawberries into your salad? This is a great way to truly embrace the farm-to-table movement, get healthier, and lose weight, too. Other fresh summer favorites can get dressed up on the grill—try grilled vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, or even fruits like fresh grilled peaches in your salad.
Bulk it out. If your complaint (and you’re not alone!) is that salad doesn’t fill you up, look for ways to incorporate more filling ingredients in smaller quantities. Throw a ½ cup of quinoa (a higher-protein grain from Peru) or whole-wheat couscous in your salad. Or toss a couple of fresh ears of corn on the grill and then add the kernels to your salad. A slice of toasted whole-grain bread cut into bite-sized pieces makes healthy and filling ‘croutons.’ Even a half cup of tortellini—perhaps a no-go food for you otherwise—can make a great addition to your salad. (Plus, eating it this way helps ensure you don’t overdo the portion size.)
Rethink your protein. It’s easy to throw chicken or turkey breast or tuna into your dinner salad. These are great choices, but can get boring over time. Broaden your horizons with lobster or crab meat, mussels, calamari, or grilled mahi mahi (or other fresh fish from at your grocer or fish market). Experimenting with new foods and flavors will liven up your same-old summer salad and give your taste buds a zing.
Turn to your herb garden. Since we all know that dressing can be the best, and most fattening, part of your salad, look for ways to up the flavor without overdoing the calories. Herbs are a great choice and right now they’re probably popping up in your garden! Consider delicious Dijon mustard dressing with fresh dill (great with a seafood-based salad) or fresh parsley or basil in traditional vinaigrette (yummy on fresh tomatoes and corn). Cilantro mixes wonderfully with fruit-based salads; toss it with a fresh strawberry or mango vinaigrette you make yourself!
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Find a center near you to schedule a consultation with a CMWL physician.