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Chop, Toss, and Serve: Meatless and Dairy-Free Salads 101

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Salad is an ideal addition to any meal as long as it features its fair share of greens. Salads provide a big punch of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to keep you healthy and strong for a long and happy life. Salads can be eaten as a main meal or added to another dish for complete sustenance – either way, the greens and other goodies found in them are sure to put some pep in your step.

But you can’t expect your salads to keep you healthy if you’re adding meat and dairy to them. After all, eating animal products comes with a high risk of ending up with diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancers. But not to worry! Salads that are meat and dairy-free also happen to taste pretty darn good, as long as you know how to throw one together. Here’s what you need to make your own meatless and dairy-free salads at home:

The Base

Avocado-Kale-Chilli-Salad

The base of every salad should be dark leafy greens. They provide an excellent source of iron and calcium without the need for animal products, and they offer a bunch of other benefits to take advantage of such as protection of eye health, anti-inflammatory properties, and a diabetes fighting elements. There are tons of great options to choose from when creating your salad base. Try:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Collard Greens
  • Romaine
  • Green or Red Leaf Lettuces
  • Bok Choy

Cut your greens into small pieces so they’ll easily combine with the other ingredients of your salad, making it a cinch to get a mouthful of different flavors at the same time.

The Color

cobbsalad-1198x800

No salad is complete without a bunch of different colored ingredients added to the mix. Not only do colorful veggies look pretty in salads but they offer an abundance of phytochemicals for the body to use when fighting off ailments and toxins from your absorb from the environment. They also add some extra flavor and texture to salads to make them more interesting and enjoyable. Give these options a shot:

  • Red, Yellow, and Orange Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Cauliflower

You can also implement extra color by adding some cooked grains or legumes to your salad. Lentils are especially tasty when mixed with veggies and dressing, but quinoa and brown rice are also filling options to consider.

The Dressing

Creamy-Lemon-Herb-Dressing

Salad dressing might seem like an easy enough ingredient to master, but it can be tough to find your favorites at the store that don’t harbor any animal ingredients, especially if you enjoy creamy dressings. The answer is to make your own at home! You can blend up all kinds of fun dressings in the comfort of your own kitchen. You may enjoy one or more of these healthy combinations:

  • Mustard, Balsamic Vinegar, a Date, and Garlic
  • Macadamia Nuts, Lemon Juice, Garlic and a Handful of Fresh Herbs
  • Pumpkin Seeds, Apple Cider Vinegar, Bell Peppers, and Basil
  • Coconut Milk, Dates, and Curry Powder

Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you are used to lots of spices in your meals throughout the day, you may want to include a pinch of salt in your salad dressings to ensure that they satisfy your taste buds.

The Extras

Raw-Kale-Salad

Make your salad fun with some extras that will really push its flavor and texture profile over the edge. Create a bit of sweetness with the help of dried fruits such as raisins, currants, figs, and berries. Make a decadent meal out of your salad by adding your favorite nuts or seeds to the mix.

Increase the flavor factor with some spices such as cumin or coriander. Or throw a handful of trail mix on top before you toss everything together. The idea is to add some special touches to the salad that get you excited to taste each and every bite.

Now that you know how to make the ultimate meat and dairy-free salad, there is no excuse to skimp on the greens during your afternoon or evening meals. Enjoy!

Lead Image Source: Mock Chicken Salad

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