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Too Hot to Cook? Salads Make Great Meals

saladBy Kelley Schall
For AthleticFoodie.com 

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Try making a salad! Temperatures are reaching into the 80s, 90s and 100s this summer and it can be difficult to get excited about firing up the stove as temperatures rise outdoors. However, that shouldn’t keep you from creating a delicious and nutritious meal.

My favorite thing about salads? The varieties are endless. Tabbouleh, a classic Mediterranean dish, inspired my Mediterranean Chopped Salad. This salad is guaranteed to go the extra mile with an abundance of fresh vegetables, plus chickpeas and bulgar wheat packed with protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad Recipe
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium vine-ripened tomato, diced, seeds and excess liquid removed
  • ½ large yellow bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
  • ½ cup dry bulgar wheat plus ¾ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup Greek salad dressing, store-bought varieties also work well
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup crumbled Feta cheese or toasted pine nuts
  • Kalamata olives, as desired
  • Your favorite greens, thoroughly rinsed and dried

Preparation:

Steep dry bulgar wheat in boiling water in a covered container for approximately 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Toss with a fork and set aside to cool. Tip: chop vegetables while bulgar wheat is cooling.

In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, onion, parsley, chickpeas, and cooled bulgar. Add dressing, lemon juice, and pepper. Toss ingredients together until evenly coated with dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour to develop flavors, if desired.

Divide chopped salad into six 1-cup portions and serve on top of a heaping bed of greens. Sprinkle each salad with 2 tbsp. crumbled Feta cheese or pine nuts, and as many Kalamata olives as you wish!

Serve with whole-wheat pita bread and hummus.

You can also try these tips to transform your favorite salad into a balanced meal:

  • Dark leafy greens are higher in vitamin and mineral content. Opt for spinach, arugula, or Romaine lettuce.
  • Add some protein so that your salad sticks with you longer. Try grilled chicken, fish, or tofu. Beans and part-skim cheeses are great, too!
  • Toss in cooked whole grains, such as quinoa or buckwheat for a unique twist pluscomplex carbs and fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds add a great crunch, and heart healthy fats!
  • Fresh fruit is great in salads. My favorites are citrus, berries, mangoes, or pears.
  • Choose lighter dressings or olive oil and vinegar over creamy dressings to avoid empty calories.

Kelley Schall is a dietetic intern at the University of Texas who is working towards her accreditation as a Registered Dietitian. Her interests include sports nutrition and open water swimming. If you'd like to contact Kelley, you can send her an email.

Athletic Foodie LogoThis article originally appeared on AthleticFoodie.com, founded by Olympic gold medalist Garrett Weber-Gale and his family, who believe that good taste and healthy food really can go together.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.

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