I always have this on my backburner; a simple salmon salad, easily made on busy weekends. Today’s protein salads at restaurants and grocery stores are typically loaded with mayo, added salt and often don’t have much other than a little celery or onion.
Your game changer awaits you. Low-cost canned fish or left over filets can be redefined with heart healthy fats, vitamin rich veggies, and fresh aromatic herbs to knock your taste buds out of the park!
First, choose a protein: salmon, tuna, shrimp, chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu, etc. I often have canned salmon or tuna at home for convenience, but you can really apply this recipe to any protein. For athletes and traveling professionals, the canned option is portable and easy to prepare on the road, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated prior to use.
Salmon. An excellent source of omega-3 fats (your body needs, but can not make) which research shows reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Current recommendations are to include two 4oz servings seafood per week. It’s also packed with 22g protein per 3oz cooked serving plus selenium, niacin and vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. See Product Review for my thoughts.
Lettuce + Spinach. An excellent source of folate, spinach is loaded with iron and vitamins A and K. Like other leafy greens it also contains fiber, magnesium and calcium. Also, the darker the green, the more beta-carotene! I grew up with a brother who loves the buttery texture of the lighter lettuce so I often find myself blending the two types of greens.
Purple Cabbage. This vibrant cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidant vitamin C and a good source of minerals selenium and calcium. It contains a variety of cancer fighting, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting compounds including carotene antioxidants and phytonutrients (aka powerful plant-based compounds.) Like many other vegetables, it’s also rich in fiber and low in calories that helps you to feel satisfied without the high intake of calories. I love the color and the satisfying crunch! It goes a long way when added to a protein salad.
Tomatoes. They are an excellent source of antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C, which research shows may reduce the risk of cancer. They’re also rich in potassium that helps regular blood pressure and contain the powerful flavonoid quercetin that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting properties.
Celery. This vegetable is high in fiber and a good source of potassium. The darker the stalk and leaves the more carotenes the celery will contain, increasing mineral and vitamin C availability to the body. This is the poster hanging in my office, as a reminder flavorful food doesn’t have to be rich in salt, fat or sugar.
TIP: Stick the leafy celery greens in water with fresh lemon for a refreshing drink!
Cucumber. These veggies are low in calories and rich in water content, which allows you to eat a fair amount while gaining the benefits of hydration. The mini versions are easy to travel with and are great snack dipped in hummus!
Onion. These powerhouses contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to keep the immune system fighting strong against toxins. They’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, folate and manganese. In this recipe I used both red and green onions. However, red are my favorite for their nutrient density and purple hues.
Chives. I find these hearty herbs stay fresh in the fridge for a longer period of time compared to other leafy herb counterparts. Any fresh herbs will do the flavor boost trick! Chives are also great with eggs and plain Greek yogurt.
Artichokes. These are super nutrient dense; high in fiber, calcium, iron and the antioxidant mineral magnesium, essential for bone and heart health. They’re also a good source of vitamin C and folate.
TIP: Save the remaining artichoke hearts for pizza, eggs or pasta toppings!
White Beans. This lean plant-based protein is typically less expensive when purchased raw, but may be more convenient when cooked and canned. Raw beans can easily be prepared by soaking in water for 6-12 hours.
TIP: I think this is best to soak beans after dinner, or before bed then drain and store in the refrigerator in the morning once beans are ready to eat. Heads up; they may be a little more crunchy than the beans you’d find in a can.
Olives + Olive Oil. Both olives and their oil are high in mono-unsaturated fat, which is heart healthy and easily digested, unlike saturated or trans fats. Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined or less processed, making it perfect for dressing, as it has a rich flavor profile, aroma and color. Olives are preserved in a variety of ways with herbs, oils, seasonings and marinades. Select your favorite! My fave’s are Spanish green.
Simple Salmon Salad
Serves: 4, 1- 1/2c cup portions of salmon salad over a bed of lettuce and cabbage
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: None
14.75oz can of Trader Joe’s Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
6 whole artichoke hearts, drained, cut in bite size pieces
15oz Organic Great Northern White Beans, drained
2Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Himalayan salt + cracked black pepper to taste
1. Lay bed of lettuce down on the serving plate of choice.
2. Cut vegetables in bite size pieces, shred cabbage and dice herbs.
3. Top bed of lettuce with shredded cabbage.
4. Open canned artichokes and beans into a colander. Run cold water over to reduce sodium content. Once water is fully drained, add both to mixed vegetables.
5. Open and drain canned salmon in colander, then de-bone & de-skin meat until ready to eat. To do this, separate filets first. With a butter knife, peel off skin; it should fall right off the meat. Cut large filets into bit size pieces. Option: choose ready to eat (de-skinned + de-boned) version. See Product Review.