Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Eating them in an uncooked state adds the benefit of keeping their naturally occurring enzymes intact as well. Enzymes aid in digestion and a host of other bodily functions, and are destroyed by temperatures above 120 degree Fahrenheit. As a result, the best nutrition is achieved by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables raw, and one of the best ways to do so is by making salads an integral part of your diet.
You may have heard or read the advice to "eat the rainbow." They're not talking about Skittles here. Different vitamins announce their presence in food by their color, so foods that are orange in color tend to be rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, red fruits and vegetables may be good sources of lycopene and so on. Selecting foods that vary in their natural color adds visual interest to your plate and nutritional diversity to your diet. The larger the number of different species of fruits and vegetables that you incorporate into your diet, the more likely you are to be getting a full complement of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. If you are not eating at least a dozen varieties each day, you may be missing out. The never ending salad bowl is a great way to increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet, add raw foods, streamline your food preparation and possibly lose weight and improve your health.
You might be thinking that it takes too much time to make a salad every day, or even twice a day, and that's a legitimate concern, but the trick is to be prepared. Depending upon how much you (and your family) consume and how well your refrigerator keeps produce, you can do most of your prep once or twice a week and have beautiful delicious salads at a moments notice. Prepare your mixed greens in advance. Avoid iceberg lettuce because it is virtually devoid of any nutritional value. Make a blend of any or all of the following leafy vegetables: Romaine, Boston lettuce, red or green leaf lettuces like oak-leaf, escarole, frisee, endive, radicchio, arugula, spinach, kale, shredded green or red cabbage. Use a salad spinner to wash it and spin it as dry as possible. If you can't spin it dry, it might be better to wash before use, as water clinging to the leaves will speed the lettuce going bad. If you do nothing else, you will have a blend of several vegetables at your fingertips, going a long way toward meeting your goal of a dozen a day. If you don't have time for this, use mixed baby greens.
Other vegetables can be chopped in advance and stored in a ready to eat state, or cut as needed. Avocados, tomatoes and cucumbers are best cut as needed, but carrots, celery, red, white or green onions, bell peppers of any color, radish, fennel and jicama can all be cut, bagged and used as needed. You can add interest and nutrition with sprouted seeds and beans, fresh herbs, dried or fresh fruits or raw nuts. Once you've assembled your salad, count up the varieties of produce you've used. You may be pleasantly surprised.
With all these glorious ingredients at your fingertips, it should be no problem to create a variety of salads on a daily or twice daily basis without taking too much time or getting too repetitive. If you make a nice salad the cornerstone of your lunch and/or dinner each day, you will automatically consume more fiber and less calories, making it easier to feel full, lose weight and get healthier. This spring, put a bit more spring in your step by adopting the never ending salad bowl.