It’s no secret that nurses are notorious for taking care of others without leaving much room to attend to their own needs. But in order to be as effective as we would like when treating our patients, we need to nourish ourselves, too. Eating healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is one way to give yourself some TLC.
When you think veggies you probably think salads. And when you think salads you probably think:
A. boring B. punishment C. bird food or D. all of the above. If any of those thoughts crossed your mind, then you need to go to salad school. Not to worry, salad school is infinitely easier than nursing school. And tastier.
Lesson 1: A salad is the best sandwich you’ve ever had without the bread
Love a BLT, Italian sub, or turkey club? The reason those classics are still around is because they’re jam-packed with flavor. Try skipping the bread and translating your favorite sammies into salad form. You don’t want to go overboard with the bacon or the salami. But the beauty is, you don’t have to. A little goes a long way, especially when the best ingredients aren’t competing for the starring role with the bread.
Lesson 2: Protein, protein, protein
When working long shifts that are physically and mentally challenging, you need food that keeps you going. Protein keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. And when you reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates consumed, you don’t need to skimp on the really satisfying stuff.
Lesson 3: Seasoning salads is as important as seasoning meat
The next time you make a salad, season with some salt and pepper before tossing. Even if you use only olive oil and a little vinegar, the salt and pepper bring out an enormous amount of flavor. Get creative with dried and fresh herbs. Basil, cilantro and oregano are all great herbs to have on hand. They’ll take your salad from blah to yum.
Lesson 4: Texture is key
There’s a reason we like croutons in our salad: they provide that much-needed crunch. I don’t know about you, but my teeth get bored grinding all these greens. There are a million and one things that can give the same effect while upping the flavor factor. Toasted nuts, cabbage, broccoli slaw and bacon to name a few.
And that’s it! You’re ready to go out on your own. The sky’s the limit, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
5 hearty salads to get you through your day (or night)
- The Phuket: Chicken, shredded carrots, greens, red onion and red pepper tossed with Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Dressing
- The slim Reuben: Corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and greens, tossed with Martha’s Favorite Vinaigrette
- The Tijuana: Chipotle sweet potatoes (adapted from one of my favorite recipes), black beans, red onion, greens and shredded cheddar, tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.
- The apple orchard: Baby romaine, cheddar cheese, apple, red onion and toasted pine nuts, tossed with Bolthouse Farms Honey Mustard
- The farmer’s market: Beets, greens, sliced radishes and goat cheese tossed with olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.