Nutritional needs change for seniors so salads can be a great way to provide your loved one with foods that pack a lot of nutrients in each bite. Healthy eating also has many benefits for caregivers; for example, there are certain foods that can improve emotional health.
A Simple Salad Recipe: Where to Start
A delicious salad starts with whole, fresh ingredients. Start out making a salad by gathering these foods, and add on your own ingredients from there!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Serves 4 people
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp blueberries
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds
- 1 tbsp basic vinaigrette made with your choice of herbs
- Sliced oranges
Directions: Toss all the ingredients together for a healthy and flavorful salad that serves one person. Other options for salad ingredients include dried cranberries, fresh raspberries, sliced strawberries, or pomegranate seeds.
Directions for Adding Chicken to Your Salad
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
- Place chicken in the pan “round” side down. Cook for 3 minutes or until nicely brown.
- Turn the chicken breast over, turn off the burner and place the pan with chicken in the oven.
- Cook the chicken breast for 1:45 minutes per ounce of chicken. For example, an 8-ounce chicken breast will cook for 14 minutes. If you are cooking more than one chicken breast, cook the chicken in the oven for the time corresponding to the largest breast (if you are cooking a 7 ounce and 9-ounce chicken breast, you will cook 9 x 1:45 for a total of 15:45 minutes).
- Let the chicken rest for 3-4 minutes before slicing.
Basic Vinaigrette Recipe
A vinaigrette is an emulsion of an oil and an acid and can be used to dress salad greens, “grain” salads such as quinoa and pasta, or as a simple sauce for fish and chicken. A basic vinaigrette contains the following:
- 4 parts oil, such as olive, hazelnut, safflower, avocado, flax, or walnut
- 2-3 parts acid such as lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. You can also use part orange juice and part vinegar.
- 1 small clove of garlic or ½ tsp. of garlic (note: you can buy garlic chopped and portioned at Trader Joe’s and keep it in the refrigerator)
- 1 tsp agave nectar, honey, or brown sugar
- ¼ tsp or a squirt of dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
Method Combine all ingredients in a lidded glass jar and shake. Vinaigrette can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.
Optional Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Chopped fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, and parsley
- Poppy or hemp seeds (such as a lemon and poppy seed dressing)
- Chopped green onions or shallots
Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Mint, Basil, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tomatoes and watermelon are full of fibrous carbohydrates. Mixing them with low carbohydrate cucumbers, spinach, and fresh herbs is a great way to enjoy a nutritious summer meal. Even though herbs are not technically vegetables, they are raw, green, and widely considered the gold standard of nutritional food.
Dress up these ingredients in an unconventional salad by cutting the watermelon into fork friendly size pieces (cubes fit onto a fork and easily into one’s mouth) and then mixing it with colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes for a pretty contrast of color. A little bit of feta cheese provides a serving of healthy fat, along with creaminess and saltiness which balances out the acidity of the vinegar and lets the sweetness of the summer fruit shine!
Some grocery stores sell containers of pre-cut watermelon, which can be a tremendous time-saver.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 pint mixed color heirloom cherry tomatoes (preferably yellow, cut into halves)
- 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
- 1 Persian cucumber (cut into quarters lengthwise and then cut into ½ inch pieces)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 3 cups spinach leaves (2-3 handfuls)
- 6-8 basil leaves (cut 1/8” thin strips or ribbon cut)
- 6-8 large mint leaves (cut 1/8” thin strips or ribbon cut)
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional if dairy-free)
- In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic together
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the feta cheese and lightly combine using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- Just before serving, transfer onto a plate and top with the feta cheese
The next time you’re not sure what to make for dinner, grab some greens, fruits, and your favorite protein and enjoy a salad!