Us dieters get sick and tired of eating the same thing day in and day out: salads, salads, salads. However, we all know that getting out leafy greens and filling up with low-cal, healthy fiber and nutrients is the best thing we can do for our health. As an added bonus, salads are extremely easy to assemble and serve. So instead of boring yourself to death with the same salad, try mixing it up with different, colorful and unique leafy meal recipes. Salads don’t have to be boring–they can be delicious and lively in addition to being healthy and nutritious.
Every culture and region has its own salad to bring to the mix. Get inspiration from your travels or simply check out easy meal recipes in food magazines to jazz up an old, diet staple.
Thai Mango Salad: A Thai mango salad can be a great way to get excited about salad. Colorful peppers and mangos make this salad both flavorful and aesthetically pleasing. Fish sauce, sugar, Thai pepper, shallots and peanut oil are blended to make a Thai-inspired dressing, while mangos and sweet pepper are grated and combined with carrots green onions and cilantro. Just sprinkle with chopped nuts and serve on a bed of lettuce.
Greek salad: Take olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, oregano, and garlic for a basic Greek vinaigrette. Then slice cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper tomato (cherry tomatoes are great for any salad) kalamata olives, red onion, toss with vinaigrette and feta, and serve! It should only take you about 15 minutes total to chop and toss this salad. Now, that’s easy.
Salade Nicoise: For anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Nice, France, you may think back on the delicious Salade Nicoise fondly. Bring a little bit of France home by prepping this classic French salad in your own kitchen. This salad is composed of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, fava beans, olives, lettuce, tuna, and hard-cooked eggs, all drizzled with olive oil.
Spinach Orzo Salad: Whole grain, orzo pasta, feta cheese, olives, and baby spinach make an orzo salad pop with flavor. Puree the baby spinach so that it combines well with the orzo and you’ll have yourself a whole new take on the same ol’ spinach salad. Chill for an hour before serving.
Japanese Ginger Salad: The dressing is really the main event of this salad, but you can make it colorful with baby spring greens, iceberg lettuce, carrots, beets, onion, and dried rice noodles for a bit of crunch. “Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.”
Salads don’t have to be boring, make them colorful and fun, experiment with different regional salads rather than sticking to the same-old and healthy foods won’t be so boring, salads make for great easy meal recipes.
According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 133 million Americans eat out every day. Michael Donohue, spokesperson for the NRA, contends that, “The typical adult eats at a restaurant nearly six times a week.” While this is great news for restauranteurs it may make budget-minded moms and pops blush with shame. So why do we eat out so much? Time is partially to blame. The grocery shopping, the cooking, the prep, the cleaning — all of these things take time that we, as working Americans, really don’t have. Luckily, however, there is a way to get in and out of the kitchen in a flash. There are plenty of chefs and cookbooks that have proved to us that having dinner out in under 30 minutes is achievable.
Tips to making your kitchen 30 Minute Meal-Worthy
You can’t just throw together 30 minute meals if you’re in the midst of a filthy or unorganized kitchen. You need to be adequately prepped to churn out meals in a flash. One way to prep for a 30 minute meal? Practice what chefs like to call “mise en place,” or “to put in place.” The basic premise of mise en place is that if you put everything out in front of you before you start to cook, you’ll be able to prepare a meal quickly and efficiently. Get your mise en place set up by doing the following:
Make sure you have all of your ingredients in front of you
Have plates ready so you can put the meal on the plates and serve it while the dish is still hot.
Have stations set up for different phases of the meal. Arrange a washing, chopping, and seasoning station.
Put all of your herbs or different chopped ingredients in bowls so that you can easily grab and use them. The bowls can be quickly thrown in the dishwasher after use.
Apply this technique to all of your meals to churn them out as quickly as possible.
Examples of 30 minute Meals
Thirty minute meals usually include elements like a meat that can be cooked in a skillet in a flash and simple recipes without hundreds of ingredients. Meals that you can cook in under 30 minutes include:
Steak with herbs: Steak is so easy to just throw on a cast-iron skillet and cook. All you need is herbs like rosemary, parsley, and oregano to really make a rib-eye taste delectable in only about 8 minutes!
Lemon Garlic Tilapia with Spinach: Just sauté some spinach and throw a tilapia filet on the skillet with garlic, lemon, and butter for a delicious dinner that only takes about 20 minutes.
Parmesan Chicken Tenders: Bust out your olive oil and get ready for some quick frying. You can bread your chicken tenders in rosemary, shredded parmesan, red pepper flakes and garlic cloves. Then, just fry up your breaded tenders and serve with a pasta salad and some leafy greens for a great meal.
You can make the time to cook for thirty minutes each night. Just start planning your meals out, and open your mind to the possibility that cooking could actually be enjoyable.
If you haven’t noticed, simple foods are in. These are foods that stick to their roots, aren’t too tampered with, and fuel us with the healthiest hardiest stuff mother nature has to offer. However, many processed foods are loaded with additives — some that aren’t harmful and others that are. So what can you do to eliminate the additives in your diet? The easiest thing to do is to make commonly tampered with foods in your own home, so that you know exactly what’s going into your food. While we don’t have time to cook from dusk until dawn, cooking simple food recipes when you have the chance could greatly reduce the number of additives you and your family are ingesting on a daily basis. Here are some additives to watch out for, and meals you could make that will cut them from your diet:
Sodium Nitrate: Also known as sodium nitrite, this preservative is commonly found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon and can cause the formation of nitrosamines, or cancer-causing chemicals. This reaction is especially prevalent in bacon. While we don’t expect you to find a hog, wrestle it down, and make some bacon out of it, you can easily make salami, bologna, ham, and roast beef at home for fresher-than-ever deli meat slices. Roast beef is particularly easy to make from home. Buy top sirloin to you don’t have to cook it for long and ask the butcher to tie it for you, recommends Saveur magazine. A low, temperature and slow cooking give the roast beef a uniform pink color. After cooking, just cut and serve!
Artificial coloring: Condiments, beverages, and many processed foods typically have artificial coloring and these colorful additives are suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children. The FDA also banned Red Dye number 2 after studies showed that large doses could cause cancer in rats. Avoid blue no. 1, blue no. 2, green no. 3, red no. 40, red no. 3 yellow no. 5, yellow no. 6, orange B. One way you can avoid this additive is by making your own ketchup. All you need is tomato paste, white vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, molasses, and agave nectar to make ketchup with no additives and lower sodium!
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Trans Fat): Vegetable oil can be made into a semi-solid shortening when it’s combined with hydrogen. Unfortunately, this process turns fats into trans fats, which promote heart disease. “Harvard School of Public Health researchers estimate that trans fat had been causing about 50,000 premature heart attack deaths annually, making partially hydrogenated oil one of the most harmful ingredients in the food supply,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Avoid trans fats by making your own snack foods, like potato chips and cookies. While we all know how to make chocolate chip cookies, you may think that potato chips are a bit trickier. They’re surprisingly easy to make! All you need is a good handheld slicer and you can slice potatoes and toss with oil, then bake until golden brown for about 15 minutes. Salt, pepper, chili powder, or minced herbs can all be added to the mix to make your own, special treat.
Saccharin: Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low) is about 350 times sweeter than sugar and its used in diet foods as a sugar substitute. Many studies on animals have shown that saccharin can cause cancer of the urinary bladder, according to the CSPI. Saccharin has also caused cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels, and other organs in rodents. Other studies have shown that saccharin increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. All in all: avoid this chemical! While we can’t make sugar at home to avoid products with sweet and low, you should use Stevia if you’re a fan of artificial sweetener.
Propyl Gallate: Propyl gallate retards the spoilage of fats and oils and is often used with BHA and BHT, because of the combined effects of these preservatives. “The best studies on rats and mice were peppered with suggestions (but not proof) that this preservative might cause cancer,” according to CSPI. To avoid propyl gallate, make your own chicken stock at home. It’s extremely easy and all it takes is a chicken carcass (after you serve a chicken for dinner, keep the bones), onions, celery, bay leaves, and garlic.
Avoid products with these names on the label or make the substitutes at home – your food will be a lot healthier and it’ll probably even taste much better.