When it comes to salad making, you’ll always get more nutritional bang for your bowl, by filling at least half of it with non-starchy vegetables. Whether you follow a low-carb, vegan or all-inclusive diet, these veggies are at the top of the list of “approved” foods, as they’re especially high in fiber and generally low in calories and sugar. While you have endless options with non-starchy veggies, here are five favorites you should definitely build your bowls with.
Of all salad toppers leafy green veggies are by far the most popular. Besides being convenient, affordable and incredibly versatile, they’re also among the richest non-starchy sources of fiber, micronutrients and phytonutrients. Notably, leafy greens contain large amounts of vitamin K, an often overlooked vitamin that supports bone and heart health. The darker the leaves, the more nutritious the greens so build your bowl with lots of broccoli, kale and spinach.
To really experience the rich flavors of kale, try our “Rubbed Kale and Butternut Squash Salad with Quinoa.”
Some of the healthiest and tastiest of non-starchy vegetables, bell peppers are well-known for their superior nutrition profile. Of the many colors sold, green peppers are generally the least sweet and the lowest in nutrients as they’re prematurely picked. But whether yellow, orange or red (the ripest and best), colored varieties contain a dense cocktail of potent antioxidants including disease-fighting carotenoids so top your salads with these whenever you can.
To enjoy all the vibrant colors and flavors of bell peppers, try our “Ultimate Salad Bowl” recipe.
Often referred to as the “King of Vegetables,” carrots are among the world’s most popular health foods and by far a favorite here at ThatSaladLady.com. They’re most known for their exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, a powerful carotenoid that functions as a a potent antioxidant. Due to the presence of beta-carotene, carrots are known to protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammatory disorders and various cancers.
You can reap all the nutritional benefits of carrots by enjoying them raw in our fresh and delicious “Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad.”
Whether in our salad bowl recipes or dressings, we’re huge fans of allium vegetables. Less recognized by their classification, alliums include garlic, onions, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. Besides the mild to pungent flavors these non-starchy veggies offer, alliums are nutritional powerhouses. Along with high levels of vitamin C, they contain a dense cocktail of antioxidants known to lower the risk of heart disease, inflammation and various cancers.
For a whopping dose of allium veggies in a cooked salad, try our “Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry.”
Among the most common non-starchy vegetables, beets are chock-full of nutrients, many that are difficult to get from other foods. Most notably, beets contain chemicals called nitrates that support blood pressure control and overall heart health. They’re also rich in antioxidants called betaines, which offer protection against diabetes, cancer and inflammatory disorders. Fresh is best, as many of the vitamins naturally found in beets are lost when they’re processed.
If you don’t like the taste of beets, our “Roasted Beets Salad with Goat Cheese” will convert you.
And there you have it – five non-starchy vegetables to build your bowl with.
Whether you’re counting calories or carbs, or even if you’re just watching your weight, you’ll really appreciate that these non-starchy veggies are generally low in calories and (with the exception of a couple) very low in sugar. Now, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list as there are many others that you can choose from. Just be sure to count your colors. As with most plant-based foods, you’ll get the most nutrients from deeply colored varieties.