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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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                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                      1. The Inner Critic

                      This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                      He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                      Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                      2. The Worrier

                      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                      He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                      Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                      He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                      He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                      He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                      4. The Sleep Depriver

                      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                      His motivation can be:

                      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                      How can you control these squatters?

                      How to Master Your Mind

                      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                      For the Inner Critic

                      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                      • He riles up the Worrier.
                      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                      • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                      • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                      • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                      Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                      For the Worrier

                      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tense

                      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                      For example:

                      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tension

                      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                      Breathe in through your nose:

                      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                      • Focus on your belly rising.

                      Breathe out through your nose:

                      • Feel your lungs emptying.
                      • Focus on your belly falling.
                      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                      For the Sleep Depriver

                      (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                      • Shut down your thinking.
                      • Calm your feelings.
                      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                      Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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