It’s summer and there’s nothing more refreshing than a variety of salads to mix up your weekly menu and routine. When we think salads, we usually think of the typical blend of lettuce leaves, vegetables and some great dressing. I love to experiment though and have created cold salads with three different types of grains or legumes. All three are the perfect addition to a fun, easy, and affordable salad creation with a description from the experts as to why these salad add-ins can be so good.
Quinoa: “Small, round, and a good source of protein, iron, and fiber, quinoa is a quick and flavorful way to get in a serving of whole grains. About the size of pellets of couscous, quinoa cooks in about 20 minutes. The only special handling required with quinoa is to give it a good rinse before cooking; otherwise, the grains can be bitter.” – Cooking Light
Barley: “ Barley, like all whole grains, reduces blood pressure. Eating barley has been shown to lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. A flood of recent research indicates that barley's ability to control blood sugar may be exceptional, offering an important tool against rising rates of diabetes. Barley has more protein than corn, brown rice, millet, sorghum or rye, and is higher in fiber and lower in soluble (starch) carbohydrates than almost all other whole grains. B arley may help you feel full longer, and thereby help you control your weight. “ -- via wholegrainscouncil.org / Grain of the Month Program
Lentils: “ These protein-rich legumes are especially great because they're loaded with fiber: 1 cup provides about three-quarters of your daily recommendation. Both protein and fiber have satiating properties that help you stay fuller for longer. Lentils are a great substitute for meat, or can be eaten plain by boiling them in water with lemon.” -- Dr. Oz
I prepare all of my cold grain salads the same way. Boil them in water with a 2-to-1 ratio of water to grain (or legume); add some salt and lemon and bring to a boil. Refrigerate and allow to get cold. Mix and match an array of chopped veggies such as bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, or fresh herbs. Mix and match different vinaigrettes, lemon or olive oil based dressings to find your favorite.
This allows you to mix and match high protein grains or legumes and fresh vegetables in a refreshing, summer friendly way.
What are your favorite summer healthy recipes?