Have you ever made a delicious meal and told yourself this lie? I’ll eat salad during the next meal.
Dieticians recommend that we eat a minimum of 6 fruits and vegetables daily; more if possible. A lot of times, we never really get around to it. Every single day whether we are sleeping, awake, in action or motionless our bodies are fighting the good fight against germs, viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. The enemies lurk on every door knob, counter surface, and in the air; there are even mysteries lurking in our genetics. There is no avoiding the very enemies that want to take our lives. The good news is that there are ways, very effective ways to fight.
In an anti-bacterial society we have become resistant to what initially was meant to do us good. Anti-bacterial gels, anti-biotic injected chicken, Lysol sprays…Antibiotics really are everywhere. At some point, we need to strengthen our own immune systems and allow our cells to be the strong warriors they were intended to be. Maybe some of us have heard the term “antioxidant” so many times, we no longer care.
The truth is, a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods is one that lowers the risk of disease, obesity and mental health disorders. Antioxidants are crucial. I challenge you today to not let another day pass where you arrive at dinner and you have eaten not a single fruit or vegetable. Instead, plan around these life-giving foods and let them be the base for your meals. Here are some tips:
- Eat plenty of raw or close to raw vegetables
- Choose only fresh and unbruised fruits and vegetables to maximize nutrients
- Don’t limit yourself to only eating vegetables during lunch and dinner.
- Make meals using a variety of plants so that your body can receive the benefits of a plant-based diet
- Meat isn’t wrong; it just should not be a dominant portion of meals
- Try vegetables you initially didn’t like, by cooking them a new way
Now for the food 🙂
My recipe takes a delicious yet very traditional snack and makes a simplistic salad the focal point of the meal. Weighing in at 550 calories, this guilt-free dish is bound to be an instant-replay on your dining calendar. With easy to find ingredients, you will be able to get nearly 3 vegetables servings and 1 serving of fruit in addition to a serving of whole grains. You will need:
- 2 small corn/wheat tortilla shells
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 cup butter lettuce mixed with endives
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup romaine lettuce
- the juice of 1/4 a lemon
- the juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely shredded low-fat Mexican cheese
- 2 tbsp Your favorite salsa
- 1 tsp aged balsamic vinaigrette
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cooked black beans ( I used Trader Joe’s Cuban-style black beans for more flavor)
- 1/4 of a fresh avocado
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Take a small cookie sheet and place one tortilla in the center. Dish out a layer of black beans onto the tortilla. It should be roughly 1/4 cup. Next sprinkle a layer of your shredded cheese on top of the beans. Before topping the quesadilla with the second shell, slather on a thin layer of butter (I used light butter) and face the butter side up to crisp in the oven.
3. Once oven is heated, cook quesadilla for 8 to 12 minutes or until tortilla becomes golden brown.
4. Shred all 3 lettuces and rough chop cilantro and place into a large mixing bowl.
5. In a small bowl, mix EVOO and aged balsamic vinegar. Mix into lettuce. Sprinkle salt and pepper as desired, and drizzle lemon and lime.
6. Place cooked quesadilla in the center of a large plate. Top the quesadilla with two TBSP salsa. I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Mango and Papaya salsa.
7. Next, heap on your tossed salad, and top with 1/4 avocado.