The Beast of a Salad

A typical second or third daily feeding for me involves a hearty salad. Talk about nutritious, this “beast” of a meal has a nice mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, covers all colors of the nutrient rainbow, satisfies hunger, and tastes great! As far as I’m concerned, a salad a day will keep the doctor away, but the ingredients must be right. Let’s take a look at what you need to make a healthy salad.

We’ll start with protein since it comes from the Greek word proteios, which means “first one” or “most important one.” Everything is fair game for protein, but be careful with tuna. For years, I dropped a can or two of tuna in my salad every single day. Then one day I had a heavy metal analysis performed and sure enough, my mercury levels were high. I decided to remove tuna altogether from my diet. After a two-year period, I had another test conducted and this time my mercury levels were normal. It was a significant drop so let that be a lesson.

If mercury is a non-issue, you may opt for 1-2 cans of tuna a week, but go with a healthier version. Vital choice and Rain Coast Trading are two of the better brands or if you prefer tuna in a glass jar, Callipo Tonello is an excellent choice.

As far as which lettuce to choose, go with a variety of them just rotate the sources on a regular basis. One day it may be romaine, the next day mixed greens, the next day spinach, and so on. Add some watercress occasionally to detoxify unfavorable metabolites of estrogen. Another option is kale, which can assist in reducing estrogen levels. Keep in mind, though, that raw kale is a goitrogenic food that can inhibit the absorption of iodine and potentially lower the production of thyroid hormone, so have it occasionally but not every day.

For a salad dressing, use extra-virgin olive oil, lemon/lime or apple cider vinegar, and Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt. If you add vinegar, which can improve digestion and reduce the glycemic impact of the meal, make sure to choose a good quality apple cider vinegar with the “mother” (like Bragg) and not balsamic, red wine, white or any other form of vinegar that may contain chemical additives, preservatives, dyes, thickeners, sugars or artificial fragrances. Over the years I’ve noticed something interesting: many females feel bloated and many males experience flatulence after eating a salad for lunch with vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is definitely a better choice, but my preference is lemon or lime.

For a host of health benefits, including various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, fats and other important nutrients, here are some of the ingredients that I will regularly throw into my salad:

  • artichoke hearts: they’re great for your liver and gallbladder
  • avocado: a nice creamy texture with about three times the potassium of a banana
  • cashew pieces: in addition to the minerals and antioxidants, they’re tasty and they provide crunch
  • hot pepper rings: the capsaicin helps to reduce muscle and joint pain and the heat will aid digestion
  • olives: this Mediterranean food provides anti-inflammatory benefits and can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • pickle: if you exercise regularly and follow a low-salt diet, you may become sodium deficient; pickles are a natural source of sodium – one a day should do the trick
  • sauerkraut: a natural source of probiotics (healthy bacteria)
  • tomatoes: good for the skin, bones, and eyes, and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, but I only eat them from the garden when they’re in season
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds): the only seed that is alkaline-forming, it’s high in zinc, excellent for prostate health, can kill parasites, reduce inflammation, prevent kidney stone formation, and promote restful sleep

The beast of a salad is loaded with nutrients, tastes great, and will keep you more than satisfied until dinner. In fact, some people find it too filling! If that’s the case, split it in half and have it over two smaller meals. The beauty of this salad is that it won’t send your blood sugar levels flying. Just let your hunger dictate the portion size.

Leftovers are great additions to your salad. Of course, any leftover protein is a no-brainer. Throw a breast of chicken, a piece of steak, a salmon fillet, or two mild Italian sausages like you see in the photo above. If you have any leftover vegetables from the night before, get them to join the party too. Grilled peppers, zucchini, green beans… you name it, throw them in!

One of the benefits of working from home is that you can easily put together a meal like this, but it’s not that difficult to get a decent salad with some protein on the road if you need to. Of course, you could always prepare a healthy salad in advance and bring it to work with you. Just keep the dressing in a separate container and add it to your salad when it’s time to eat.

Make a salad part of your daily menu. To learn more about how it can help you gain muscle, lose fat, and improve your health, check out my latest ebook Lean and Mean.

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A few weeks ago, my clients Heather and Gary brought me a jar of homemade pickles. They got the recipe

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