How To Build a Better Salad

When you hear the phrase clean or healthy eating , salads are probably one of the first things that come to mind. After all, you can’t get much healthier than a plate full of veggies, right? Well, sort of right. Don’t get me wrong salads can definitely be a very healthy way to go (and honestly if we are what we eat, I’m gonna turn into a big ol’ salad one day because of how much I eat). However, people have the tendency to pile their plates with little green stuff and lots of nuts, seeds, cheese, craisens, fat-heavy dressing and other things that make it a less healthy option. There are certainly room for some of these “additions” to your salad, but they should be just that–small additions to your plate. Another big issue is a lack of protein and carbs (vegetables add only a few carbs) in forms of whole grains.

If you’re wondering what exactly makes a great salad, you’ve come to the right place! I’m going to present some great ideas on how to build a better salad that is healthy, tasty, and has all the necessary nutrients you need!

Greens

The base for any great salad should be your leafy greens! Some great examples are romaine, kale, arugula, spinach, or mixed greens. Iceberg lettuce is green, but it is mostly water and has little nutritional value so if you must eat iceberg try mixing it in with another type of leafy green. These leafy greens will add fiber and key nutrients to your plate.

Grains

While many people may try to eat a salad to avoid eating carbs, they are still a necessary part of any diet. Adding whole-grains to your salad will keep you fuller longer and provide more fiber (less snacking and overeating later). The trick is to make them whole-grain! This means saying no to croutons and yes to quinoa, brown rice, farro, freekeh, wheat berries, etc.

Protein

This is probably the most lacking in many salads, but whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or neither, protein on your salad is very important! Lean meats such as (lean) steak, chicken or turkey or seafood like salmon or tuna. If you don’t want meat, then eggs, beans, chickpeas, or tofu would be acceptable options too. Don’t skimp on the protein because it adds key nutrients and excellent flavor to your salad!

Veggies

Next, pile on the veggies! A colorful salad not only brightens the look of your plate, but it also adds key nutrients like beta carotene (carrots) and lycopene (tomatoes). Vegetables can be grilled (easy on the oil), steamed, or raw–whatever you prefer! Some great examples for veggies to add (but certainly not limited to) are carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, beets and celery. Mix it up to try fun, new combos and vary what nutrients you are getting.

Fruits

Fruits can be a great addition to veggies on a salad or by themselves. Avocado (yes, it is technically a fruit) is on of the most popular although it does count as healthy fat instead. Other great options can include berries, apples, grapes, oranges, pineapple or pomegranate seeds. These will help add a bit of freshness!

Crunch

The crunch factor allows you to add good flavor and texture to your salad, but BE CAREFUL! This is where people go overboard with their portions and amounts and turn a healthy 400 calorie salad into a 1,000 calorie diet-bomb. Just pay attention to serving size and measure using a scale or measuring cups whenever possible. Consider adding nuts, chia seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or crumpled whole-wheat pita chips or crackers. Just a small amount can bring a big crunch to your salad!

Extras

Extras should be small in amount and consist of things like cheese, or bacon bits. Since both high are higher in saturated fat, again keep portions in mind. The healthiest cheeses are feta, goat, mozzarella or blue cheese.

Dressing

You’re almost done creating your masterpiece, but don’t blow it on the dressing! The best way to have a healthy dressing is to create your own (there are tons of recipes all over the internet, even of your favorites like balsamic vinegar and honey mustard). Simple dressings can be made by mixing an acid (balsamic vinegar), oil (olive oil), emulsifier to hold it together (greek yogurt), and flavorings (basil). The best choices when eating out are vinegars or just vinegar and oil. Always ask for dressing on the side and drizzle just a bit of dressing (even if it is homemade). Remember, a little drizzle goes a long way for your salad!

There you have it, your guide to building a better salad. Salads can be staple meals for just about everyone, as long as you’re following good guidelines. They are also great because they are versatile and you can easily create (or search) new combos for your salad. So next time you’re wondering what to make for dinner…build yourself a salad!

What are your favorite salads and toppings? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Motivational Monday #6

After #SUPERBOWLSUNDAY not much like a #MOTIVATIONALMONDAY to get you going!! Am I right? I mean after seeing the Patriots make that huge comeback to fight and win last night, and watching them celebrate, you should be amped up to go out and kill your goals and nail your day…I know I am!! To help you kickstart that attitude, here is today’s motivational quote that really is quite simple, easy, yet oh so powerful! Let’s get to it!

Because seriously, honestly, and truly, it really does. Now, yes I know that life gets in the way and there other factors to consider making some things simply impossible (like the super-power of flying), but if your goal is attainable and fully possible, then the only person/thing who can and will stop you is YOU! If you’ve been the kind of person who quits or easily gives up, then, not judging or anything, but it is possible that you didn’t want it THAT badly. Sure, you want it, you want to change and yes it is going to be difficult. You are going to face obstacles and set backs; however, your will and your drive can overcome any and all of that. Because truthfully, your body can handle just about anything, it is your mind you have to convince.

If you want to build muscle or lose weight or focus more on healthy eating or become more positive–whatever it is that you have as your goals that you want to achieve, you can! Your desire to reach your dreams, to achieve your goals should be the driving factor behind overcoming those obstacles, getting up no matter how many times you’ve fallen and to keep pushing forward one step at a time. Whenever you feel like quitting, do some self-reflection. Is what you are doing what you truly want, what you have as your deepest and strongest desire? If so, then DON’T QUIT! No matter how hard it gets, if you want it so, so, so, so (you get the idea) badly, then you will find a way. Your way.

So, next time you feel at your lowest, like you cannot push anymore, cannot do anymore and just want to give up…remember how BAD you want it. Remember that you would do anything and everything it takes to reach your goals. Remember that you are strong and capable of achieving whatever YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO. (You just have to tell your mind that). And once your mind remembers how badly you desire to achieve your goals, you will be unstoppable. You already are!

Sports-Nutritionist Day 1

Hey guys, so today’s post is going to be a little shorter than normal because I don’t feel great, and I have a very busy weekend (3 tests to study for). Also, as you know, I usually post about tips and living a healthy lifestyle, but today is going to be a bit more personal and about myself.

So lately I have been struggling knowing how much to eat, my macros, what kind of foods to eat, etc. especially now that I am getting back into volleyball spring training. (And for those of you who didn’t know, I joined the team again! Super excited!) And since I am so excited to get back training, I want to be fueling my body properly to get to my best and strongest state that I can for next season. So although I know quite a bit from doing my own research, I decided it was time to meet with a sport nutritionist/dietician who could specifically help me as an athlete.

Well, today I had my first meeting with her and I absolutely loved it! She was so helpful in just our first meeting, and gave me a lot of new, great information for my to take start taking into account. Not gonna lie, she upped my carbs quite a bit so it will be challenging and difficult, but I am committed to do as she says because I want to change and get better, faster, and stronger. She helped me with my macros, the best window to eat certain foods, and what to eat before and after a workout and throughout the day at each meal to hit my goals!! I will be doing updates here and there as I get farther into it letting y’all know how its going and giving some tips and tricks.

I’m really looking forward to seeing a difference in my muscle, performance, and energy levels, all things which she says will be improved by doing what she has told me to do. I’m excited for the future, to try this out and of course to share it with all of y’all!

Finding Your Passion

What’s your passion? Whenever people feel stuck, lost, or don’t know what to do with their life the overwhelming answer from other people seem to be well, what is your passion? Do what you’re passionate about. Follow your passion. We get it, passion, passion, passion. But the hardest part is people say that they don’t know or haven’t found it yet. Well, I think most people actually do know it, they have found it, they just need help identifying it in their lives. I mean, heck, in today’s world everyone is rushing around, distracted by the next item on their to-do list, so it makes sense that people struggle with uncovering what they truly love to do.

Now, if you’re already there, hat’s off to you! And if you happen to do what you love/your passion as your job, bonus points! However, I think it is important to note that despite the common saying, I don’t believe your job HAS to be your exact match to your passion. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with loving your job, and if your job is your passion, that’s great! But, I think people spend so much time stressing about finding their passion and a job that matches, when it is perfectly okay to have your passion be your side hobby that you do after work. Whichever side your life falls on, it’s okay, as long as it works for you!

So now that that is out there, let me give some suggestions/ideas to think about to help you uncover your passion that is most likely already found, hidden in your crazy life.

  • Right Perspective

First, you need to start off with the right perspective and keep an open mind as you search. If you go into this thinking you’ll never find your passion or you just don’t have one, or it is pointless, you’re setting your mind up for failure. Believe that you will find it and do something you love, then you can begin searching.

  • Revisit Your Past

Look back a few years, perhaps that’s to your childhood or perhaps that’s to your first job out of college–either way think of all the things you did for fun. What did you love to do? What could you spend hours getting lost in? Although it may not match up perfectly, it can give you an idea. For example, if you loved to color or make playdough figures, you may not be able to use playdough as a job or even as an adult (although why not?), but you can find something to be artsy and creative in. Maybe it was sports or reading or being outdoors…whatever it was look to find a way to incorporate back into your life now. And if it is already in your life, you’ve found your passion.

  • Think to Your Future

Now that you’ve looked at your past, picture your future self. Who are you, what are you doing, where have you gotten to? The answers to any of these questions can help guide you to your passion and what you want to be doing. Remember all the times as a kid you would dream and make believe your future? As we grow up, we seem to lose that ability and stop doing it. But, why? Having a dream board with your future goals and aspirations can be an easy and helpful way to help search your life for what you should be doing to get where you want to be–career or life-wise!

  • How Do You Spend Your Time

With life being so busy, our time is precious and we don’t have time to waste on meaningless activities. Most likely, you’ve already figured out what is meaningful or not to you by the avocational things you choose to do or skip. Whatever you choose to spend your free time doing now is a good predictor that that’s your passion and what you love doing. If you don’t love what you’re doing, then it’s time to stop wasting your time and energy and start doing something else. Even if you aren’t 100% sure what your passion is, take that leap of faith and try out some new things until you do find it!

  • What Do You Get Excited to Do

As a business major, I get Fortune magazines monthly. I flip through it, but none of the articles really get me fired up. Daily, I receive emails from 2 fitness sites with their blog articles and I stop what I am doing (if possible) to read all of them and soak up the information! Obviously, fitness/nutrition/exercise (especially in blog form) is what I am passionate about. So, what kinds of things do you get excited to read about, or watch, or see or do that could possibly be your passion? What could you spend hours doing or talking about and never get bored doing so? These are the kinds of questions that can help lead you to uncovering your passion in your own life.

Lastly, the most important thing is to just go out there and do it! Do what you love in whatever ways possible!! If you cannot find anything you love doing in your life, then go out there and try some new things! Even if it scares you. Especially if it scares you. Life is too short to sit by and playing in the safe zone, wasting your time and energy! Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, doing what you love and enjoying every minute of the journey….so, make it a passionate one!