Salad Season

July is salad season. With all the picnics, BBQ, and hot nights approaching it’s time to think beyond the classics. Don’t get me wrong, I love the nostalgia of classic potato and macaroni salad. But It’s time to think big and healthy. Salads can be green, potato or bean and each packs its own unique nutritional value. 

Greens are one of my favorites. As soon as they’re in season I’m all about mixing up a new green salad every day. Try tender baby lettuces. Spinach, arugula, kale, and tatsoi for a heartier and slightly more bitter taste. Or swap out the wraps and bun this summer for some tender broadleaf bib lettuce. Did I mention I love greens? Greens are loaded with nutrients and photochemical, such as fiber, vitamin A, C, K, antioxidants, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium all of which contributes to numerous health benefits.(1) Frequent consumption of leafy greens can improve cardiovascular health, bone health, immune function, protect eyesight, as well as reduce the risk of cancer.(2)  

One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh greens is by lightly dressing a big bowl of hand torn lettuce, mixed with fresh herbs if available, with quality extra virgin olive oil. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help promote digestion as well as gain the added benefits of reducing cholesterol and blood sugar regulation.(3) Then season with a variety of dried spices. I often add a little pepper, crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper, turmeric, and sea salt. It’s easy to switch up the flavor profile with seasonings. If you’re going for a lighter fruit-filled salad, try red wine vinegar and a drizzle of EVOO. Working with darker greens like tatsoi or spinach, I like to add in a splash of liquid aminos or coconut aminos. A little dressing goes a long way. You don’t want to drench your greens, you just want to moisten them. Keep the dressing off the salad until it’s time to serve and mix it in with tongs or clean hands, dark greens like fresh kale loves a little hand massage. 

Let’s not forget the potato salad. Potatoes often get a bad rap as being an empty carb. This is so not true. Yes, potatoes are a high carbohydrate food, but they also contain high levels of potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C, making the potato an excellent choice for an athlete. Potatoes also contain small amounts of protein, which may contain a higher biological value than other protein sources such as eggs, beans, and soy.(4-5)

When those fresh new potatoes come out of the ground these are perfect for a picnic salad. Add in some fresh chives, a little green (I like pea shoots for this) and get creative! I recently made a delicious potato salad that had pickled pepperoncini peppers and olives in it. You can skip the mayonnaise in this salad and whip up a creamy dressing using feta cheese and a little olive oil. Another favorite is mixing Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar with fresh dill. 

Don’t forget the beans! Beans are loaded with protein, iron, zinc, folate, potassium, and fiber. Having a diet rich in legumes is associated with having lower blood pressure, as well as improving regulation of blood sugars and cholesterol. Fiber rich foods like legumes may reduce your risk of colon cancer and stroke. (6) Three bean salad is just one way to use beans on a summer day. Try making homemade hummus for an extra kick of protein and a great dip for veggies and chips. 

There are endless ideas for salads. I really could go on and on. Don’t be afraid to tear into some leafy greens or pile on the beans. Mix up some new potatoes. Lightly season and dress it all up for a quick and healthy summer meal. 


  1. Dagfinn Aune and others, Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 46, Issue 3, June 2017, Pages 1029–1056,
  2.  Brouwer-Brolsma, E.M., Brandl, B., Buso, M.E.C. et al. Food intake biomarkers for green leafy vegetables, bulb vegetables, and stem vegetables: a review. Genes Nutr 15, 7 (2020).
  3. Ho CW, Lazim AM, et al. Varieties, production, composition and health benefits of vinegars: A review. Food Chem. 2017;221:1621-1630. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.10.128
  4. Kanter Mitch. HighQuality Carbohydrates and Physical Performance. Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2018;53(1). 
  5. Carla R. McGill, Anne C. Kurilich & Jean Davignon. The role of potatoes and potato components in cardiometabolic health: A review, Annals of Medicine, 2013;45:7, 467-473, DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2013.813633

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