Salad with Quinoa

Spring is here, and salads are about to make their big debut. If you’re looking for something to toss into your salad aside from the standard fruit, rice or cheese, consider a few superfood garnishes that range from everyday foods to those that are just a bit more exotic. They’ll make your salads even that much better — and far healthier!

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the best whole-grain foods around. It’s gluten free, high in protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), full of fiber (5 grams per cup) and is a naturally good source of iron. It’s easy to make and find (in most grocery stores), and when cooked, it’s soft on the outside, chewy on the inside with a nutty flavor. Cook it, then mix it with any green salad for a satisfying, healthy meal. Check out this recipe from SheKnows for California plum and quinoa salad.

2. Wild Alaskan Salmon

Fishing for something good to add to a salad? Consider wild Alaskan salmon. Its omega-3 fatty acid content is good for heart health, or so the studies show. Experts say that the fat in salmon can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of dementia, cancer, heart disease and asthma. Salmon’s high in protein and iron, and is very low in saturated fat. Give this Bean and Salmon Salad with Anchovy-Arugula Dressing from Eating Well a try!

3. Cinnamon

When you think of cinnamon, salad isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind (I’m thinking cookies). That’s okay, because we’re all about the out-of-the-ordinary fixings. Cinnamon is a spice that not only tastes great, but is seriously good for you. The USDA found that half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowered blood-sugar levels in a study of patients with Type II diabetes, and it brought down their bad cholesterol. Cinnamon has also been found to inhibit bacterial growth and food spoilage when added to food, making it a natural food preservative, and its smell can help boost cognitive function and memory.

4. Mullberries

Mulberries made their way from China to Turkey thousands of years ago. Their leaves made the perfect food for silkworms, and their fruit used to be considered an exotic treat. There are purple and white varieties, but the darker mulberries have stronger flavor.

Mulberries are one of the few fruits to be considered a protein source (with 3 grams of protein per ounce), and are a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin C and fiber. From Navitas Naturals, you can find mulberries that are chewy and soft with a fig-like crunch. They come whole and sun-dried, perfect for salads, smoothies, pancakes or muffins.

5. Goji Berries

The goji berry, sometimes called wolfberry, comes from a shrub native to China. Goji berries taste like a cross between a dried cherry and cranberry, are orange-red in color, and have been eaten in Asia for generations in the hopes of achieving longer life. Goji berries can be eaten raw, cooked or dried (like raisins). Goji berries have 18 amino acids, they’re rich in antioxidants and include vitamins A & C (plus more than 20 trace minerals and minerals).

According to Navitas Naturals, ounce per ounce, goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta carotene than carrots, and more iron than soybeans or spinach.

image: Christaface