Kristen Dearborn prepares a summer salad with in-season fruits and vegetables.

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making a delicious summer salad

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making a delicious summer salad

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making a delicious summer salad

The summer season offers the perfect opportunity to create antioxidant-rich salads with a range of colorful and flavorful fruits and vegetables. 

Not only are salads a simple dish to create, they make meal prepping easy. 

Prepare a batch of salad for the week and use it as an appetizer or base to any meal. Once the initial prep work is complete, you can change up or add to the toppings of your salad for a fresh new twist on your classic dish daily.

1. Lettuce choices

Iceberg lettuce offers a familiar hydrating crunch as the base to any salad but consider getting more creative this time of year by including a variety of leafy greens in your dish.

Baby spinach, kale, and cabbage can be sprinkled throughout the mix to add nutritional value and a diverse flavor profile to an otherwise bland iceberg salad.

Be sure to wash all of your produce thoroughly before including them in your recipe.

To soften up your greens, gently massage them with your fingers before placing them in a serving dish.

2. Go for local produce

Check out your local farmers’ market for what’s in season.

Eating locally and seasonally is a simple way to enhance the quality of your food. 

Studies have shown that fruits and vegetable grown, harvested, and sold locally in their natural growing season maintain nutritional density better than outsourced and out-of-season produce.

Avocados, beets, and bell peppers are delicious in-season veggies that will lend texture, color, and flavor to your salad. 

Watermelon, blackberries, and blueberries are summertime fruit that adds sweetness to traditionally vegetable heavy dishes like salads.

3. Include healthy fats

Summer nuts include almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews. 

You can chop them up or include them whole in your salad.

Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds make delicious additions to any salad.

Consider using spiced seeds to intensify the flavor of your dish and compliment the sweetness of the fruit you’ve chosen.

Be conscious of nut and seed mixes with added salt and sugar. 

4. Pick a protein

Include a protein component to make your salad satiating. Grilled chicken and shrimp offer a lean source of protein that blends nicely with the citrus flavors of summer.

Consider picking a plant-based protein like tofu or edamame for an added source of fiber and nutrients.

If you choose to have your salad as a snack and want to forgo a protein serving, include extra nuts or seeds to make the salad more robust.

5. Make your own dressing

Follow this easy recipe to top off your summer salad with a light and creamy dressing:

2 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons of lemon

1 Tablespoon lime

1/2 cup yogurt 

Whisk until all the ingredients combine into a milky paste. 

Those with varying dietary restrictions or preferences, can substitute milk-based yogurt for a non-dairy counterpart.

Maple syrup or agave nectar can also be used in place of honey.

Store the dressing separately from the salad to keep all of the ingredients fresh and crisp.

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris –

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