Summer days often come with higher temperatures and humidity. It can be unappealing to heat up the kitchen by cooking. Many people also find heavy meals less appetizing. Fresh salads packed with fruits and vegetables can be a more tempting choice at mealtime.
One benefit of incorporating salad into your daily summer menu is increased hydration. Many fresh fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, celery, tomatoes, and lettuce, have a high water content. Because seniors are at higher risk for dehydration, that extra boost of water can help.
While salads might seem like a healthy choice for an entrée, they aren’t always. This is especially true at restaurants. Sometimes the fat, calories, and sodium can exceed those found in a burger and fries! Knowing what to include in your salad and what to avoid is key.
Basic Healthy Salad Ingredients
Here are a few tips to keep your salad on the healthy side:
- Protein sources: While fresh vegetables and fruits are often the most satisfying on hot days, don’t skimp on protein. Include lighter protein sources, such as grilled chicken, lentils, beans, seeds, and nuts. They are quick and easy to add to your salad at home.
- Leafy greens: Don’t limit your salad to iceberg lettuce. Opt for a variety of leafy greens like romaine, kale, cabbage, and spinach. In addition to flavor, they are rich with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Healthy fat: Salad bars in grocery stores and restaurants are notorious for foods high in unhealthy fats. Creamy dressings, fried chicken bites, and processed cheese are just a few. Better choices are avocado, feta cheese, and hard-boiled egg. Skip the creamy dressing and opt for olive oil instead.
- Skip the sugar: Don’t let sugary ingredients make their way into your salad either. Sugar is often hidden in salad dressings, dried or canned fruit, granola, and glazed nuts.
- Watch the sodium: It’s also important to monitor salad for sodium content. Limit ingredients like cheese, croutons, and processed meats. Dressings can also be high in sodium, especially bleu cheese, ranch, and Thousand Island.
With farmer’s markets gaining in popularity, one near you might be a great source of fresh ingredients for your salads this summer.
Healthy Summer Salad Recipes
If you are looking for inspiration, these sites share tasty summer salad recipes.
Trying a new healthy salad recipe or two each week can help spice up summer mealtimes.
If you are interested in learning more about eating well during retirement, explore our nutrition and recipes resources. You’ll find information on topics ranging from managing your diet when you have diabetes to tips for planning healthy meals.