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10 Astonishingly Healthy Salad Ingredients You’re Probably Missing Out On

10 Astonishingly Healthy Salad Ingredients You’re Probably Missing Out On

Everyone knows that a healthy salad is a great way to pack in those all-important servings of vegetables. However, just sticking to the simple lettuce, tomato and carrot routine really isn’t doing you any favors. There’s a whole world of salad opportunity out there, and some additions to your healthy salad ingredients can actually give you a huge nutritional boost. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to big up your salad bowl, try investigating these surprisingly simple yet astoundingly healthy additions.

1. Edamame

edamame

    If you’re a lover of Japanese cuisine, chances are you’ve already been munching on these little babies at your favorite sushi palace. However, did you know they’re also a nutritional powerhouse? One cup means you’ve just gotten 20–40% of your daily intake of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin, folate and vitamin K. These are regularly sold in the frozen section of many supermarkets now, meaning you can just steam them up, slide them out of their pods (the pods aren’t edible) and start chowing down. Delicious and nutritious? We’re definitely down with that.

    2. Coconut Oil

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    coconut

      If you’re one of those clever health nuts that makes their own salad dressings, you’ve probably come to rely on your old pal, olive oil. However, did you know that coconut oil actually has some excellent healthy benefits you might be missing out on? This little wonder can boost your thyroid function, help to rev up your metabolism, energy and endurance. It’s also great for those with digestive problems. If you’re worried about your cholesterol, coconut oil is also excellent for boosting the good HDL’s in your bloodstream, bringing your cholesterol ratio levels into check. Just because you’re using coconut oil doesn’t mean that you’re salad is going to always taste like a suntan, either. There are new liquid versions on the market that are flavorless and odorless, giving you all of the benefits without all the tropical breezes.

      3. Seeds

      sunflower seeds

        Sunflower, chia, sesame, pumpkin, flax and pomegranate seeds all make an excellent, crunchy topper to your salad. But did you know you’re also getting a mega-dose of nutrients right along with that flavor? Eating more seeds has been bubbling up with those in the nutritional know for the past several years as a great way to get a big dose of fiber, omega-3’s and protein for very little caloric intake. According to some weight loss experts, getting more fiber in your diet is a big key to boosting your metabolism. While we’re not recommending you go out and start eating your Chia Pet for the nutritional benefits; instead, try looking in your local health food shop for a wide assortment.

        4. Beans

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        beans

          One of the world’s cheapest sources of protein and fiber, beans can keep you full until dinnertime and steer you away from that afternoon cookie craving. While occasionally buying beans dry and soaking them overnight is more economical, having a selection of canned beans on hand means you’re never without a buddy for your salad. Try marinating them as a salad on their own, or even create you’re very own vegan bean burger to crumble on top for a super-filling lunch or dinner. Don’t be afraid to try mixing it up, either. Chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans are all very much at home in a salad, and a cheap and healthy alternative to meat.

          5. Nuts

          nuts2

            If you’re one of the millions of people who are allergic to nuts, then you may just want to go ahead and skip this section. However, if you’re just fine with a handful of nuts, then jump on board and get sprinkling. Nuts are full of vitamin E and other essential nutrients that are great for your skin. They’re also terrific for filling you up and giving you an important boost of protein in your salad. A hot tip: look for nuts that are unsalted and as close to their raw state as possible for the maximum nutritional benefit (i.e. unroasted). Some particularly great salad pals include walnuts, almonds and even chopped peanuts to get an Asian-salad thing working.

            6. Spinach

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            spinach

              Do you really think Popeye would lie to you? Swapping out your regular, nutritionally sparse iceberg lettuce for something more interesting like spinach can really turn your salad around. Loaded with iron, another surprisingly benefit from this leafy green is that’s it’s also outstanding for those who have skin problems, as it’s loaded with nutrients for healthy skin. Not sure you’re ready for the change? Try a mix of spinach with your favorite lettuces to get yourself into the nutritional groove.

              7. Cabbage

              cabbage

                While we’re on the topic of mixing up your leaves, then now’s as good a time as any to turn an eye to the much-maligned but incredibly delicious cabbage. Cabbage comes in all sorts of colors, including purple, white and green, meaning you can pretty up your salad into an eye catching lunch or dinner you can’t wait to dive into. Eating cabbage is also somewhat like taking a multivitamin, as it’s loaded with goodies like calcium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, iron and magnesium. It’s also so low in calories, it almost shouldn’t count. Try marinating thinly sliced cabbage with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a spoonful or two of tahini, some fresh garlic and a little olive oil for a truly Middle Eastern delight.

                8. Avocado

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                avocado

                  We’ve already been over how mind-blowingly delicious and super-nutritious these little fruits are in previous articles, but are you remembering that all that goodness can also fit into your salad bowl? Loaded with heart-boosting mono-unsaturated fat, a great source of fiber and teeming with over 20 essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, just simply throwing a chopped avocado in with your usual salad can really give you a huge boost. Additionally, you can make excellent dressings by using avocado, thus cutting out most of the fat and calories in your bowl.

                  9. Kale

                  Kale

                    Kale’s been the frontrunner in the superfood stakes of late, and deservedly so. As a dark, leafy green, it’s one of the foods you should be eating regularly, and working it into your salad routine isn’t hard at all once you’ve got the knack. Eating a cup of kale is like getting a direct shot of important antioxidants, iron, vitamin K and other important nutritional benefits. It’s also low in calories and high in important fiber. Try adding it chopped and raw to your salad mix, or you can even try crumbling kale chips on top of your salad for added crunch. Finally, you can even make a dressing out of it that’s somewhat in line with pesto. Just try loosening it with a little extra oil or even some added lemon juice.

                    10. Quinoa

                    quinoa

                      One of the best things you can do for your salad (and to keep yourself interested in eating healthy) is to look for textural contrasts, great colors and different flavors. Quinoa can help you check all of these boxes, giving a slightly nutty taste while diversifying your salad plate. Though it’s often referred to as a healthy whole grain, it’s actually a sprouted seed. It’s also the most perfect food for those looking to pack in the protein, particularly vegetarians and vegans, as it has the full range of the 9 amino acids to make it a complete protein. If you’ve never made quinoa before, try watching this tutorial video for getting it right every single time, then start playing with your flavors. It can go sweet or savory, making it not only the perfect healthy salad addition, but also a great anytime snack.

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                      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

                      1. Understand Yourself Better

                      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

                      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

                      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

                      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

                      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

                      3. Become Aware of What Matters

                      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

                      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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                      4. Boost Creativity

                      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

                      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

                      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

                      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

                      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

                      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

                      6. Process Life Experiences

                      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

                      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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                      7. Stress Relief

                      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

                      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

                      8. Provide Direction

                      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

                      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

                      9. Solve Problems

                      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

                      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

                      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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                      10. Find Relief From Fighting

                      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

                      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

                      11. Find Meaning in Life

                      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

                      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

                      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

                      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

                      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

                      14. Let the Past Go

                      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

                      15. Allow Freedom

                      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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                      16. Enhance Your Career

                      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

                      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

                      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

                      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

                      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

                      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

                      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

                      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

                      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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