Give your salad some style
Avoid "wimpy" salads consisting of just iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. Bulk up your salads with various sources of carbohydrates and protein. Remember, a sports diet should be comprised primarily of carbohydrates. Therefore, make your salad a high-energy salad by incorporating cooked pasta, rice or couscous. Other carbohydrate sources include starchy vegetables such as peas, corn and cubed potatoes.
Some more ideas...
- The addition of fruits into your salads will add carbohydrates and color. Top your salad off with raisins. Use straw-berries, peaches and bananas in a fruit salad. Add mandarin oranges on top of dark, leafy greens for color and variety.
- Dried beans will not only add carbohydrates to your salad, but protein and fiber as well. One-half cup of navy beans provides about 7.9 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. A one half-cup serving of soybeans provides around 14 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Chick peas and garbanzo beans can be added to your salad or add kidney beans. Other protein sources include chunks of chicken, turkey or tofu. For extra crunch, toss in soynuts.
- A salad consisting only of lettuce pales in comparison to a salad that is full of color. Adding a variety of dark, rich colors into your salad will provide more nutrients. For example, spinach will provide folate. Broccoli will provide vitamin C as well as some calcium.
- Red, yellow and green bell pepper will provide vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Phyto-chemicals (plant chemicals that provide disease preventing and treatment properties) can be found in onions, tomatoes and carrots.
Dressings for health
Avoid neutralizing the benefit of a nutritious salad by drowning it in fat. Oil, salad dressings, buttered croutons and high-fat cheeses can each add to the fat content of your salad, so skip them.
Saturated fats, including palm oil and coconut oil, can raise your blood cholesterol levels and clog your arteries. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are "better" sources of fats than saturated fats. Monounsaturated (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil) and polyunsaturated (safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil) fats do not raise blood cholesterol levels when incorporated into a low-fat meal plan. Keep in mind, however, that fat is fat. One teaspoon of a saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, or polyunsaturated fat will each provide about 5 grams of fat. That means in 2 tablespoons, you’ll get about 30 grams of fat. So, practice moderation when pouring your dressing.