By Kristen DeAngelis
Eating a colorful salad once a day is an excellent way to fuel up at work—with the right ingredients, lunch can help keep blood sugars stable and provide you a consistent source of thriving energy for high functioning productivity.
The key to having lasting energy is to fill up on meal that’s rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. You can either pack your salad in a plastic container or in a mason jar and store in your office break room. Follow these simple salad making rules and ingredients to add in for an awesome salad at work.
Everything from spinach, kale, romaine, micro greens and mixed lettuce has a variety of unique phytonutrients for cellular health. Choose what’s local and in season to get the most nutrition. With tons of greens as your base, you’ll add a lot of volume and nutrition with very few calories. A higher intake of these non-starchy leafy greens is associated with decreased body weight — that’s a big plus if you’re aiming to maintain weight with the limitations of a sedentary desk job!
After building a green base, add in your vegetables, which have powerful effects on reducing risk of cancer, reducing inflammation and supporting weight loss and weight management. Opt for locally sourced, seasonal veggies whenever possible to get the most nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Having a protein paired with fiber-rich veggies is one of the most important pieces of a truly awesome salad. Protein helps to keep blood sugars stable throughout the day, boosts satiety (keeping you full longer), and prevents an afternoon slump (that means you won’t feel required to get your 3 p.m. Starbucks). Make sure to layer at least one serving of the following protein rich foods:
*If animal proteins are included in your current diet: Add in 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, 3 oz. grilled chicken/chicken strips or wild-caught canned tuna fish or salmon (look for the kind packed in water).
Always keep a few easily accessible pantry proteins like canned beans, frozen edamame or steamable quinoa packets (or make a big batch of cooked quinoa and refrigerate for up to 5 days). Here’s a list of long-lasting, nutrient-dense pantry staples.
With these superfood “add-ons” like fresh herbs and seasonal fruits, you’re adding in powerful antioxidants and a punch of bright flavors that everyone will be jealous of!
Whether it’s a drizzle of olive oil vinaigrette, sliced avocado or a serving of slivered nuts or sprinkled seeds, these healthy fats are essential for a truly awesome salad. Fats help to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients, fill you up and are necessary for cell-to-cell communication and brain function. Make sure to add 1-2 servings of the following healthy fats to your salad:
Salad Bar Tips: FYI, if you’re working with a salad bar, keep an eye out for these ingredients you may want to skip (or at least avoid piling up): wontons, tortilla strips, bacon, fried chicken strips and dried fruits.