It’s time to elevate the lunchtime staple to a dish you can’t wait to dive your fork into. Here’s how to rethink your salad fixins.
To celebrate our 30tth anniversary, we’ve put together the Journey to 30 Challenge! It’s four weeks of summer-fun activities to help you stay active, connect with the SilverSneakers community, and have a total blast doing it. This is Activity No 12. Find the full step-by-step guide here. And download the game board PDF here.
This Journey to 30 Challenge is all about pushing boundaries. And we think the next frontier we should conquer is… the lowly salad.
Let’s face it: Salads get a bad rap. All that chopping — and for what? A bowl of limp leaves with sparse toppings and lackluster dressing?
But we want to prove to you that this lunchtime staple can be easy to make, beautiful to look at, and a joy to eat. Because salads are one of the best ways to make sure you’re loading veggies into your diet. And the more, the better.
Researchers from the University of Michigan report that the more vegetables older adults eat, the more protected they are from chronic diseases. There’s also evidence linking higher intakes of veggies with a lower risk of dementia, according to a 2022 study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics.
How’s that for a reason to hit the produce section?
Follow along for today’s activity, plus tips on how to make your salad shine. For extra credit: Take a photo of your creation and post it to our Facebook page with @SilverSneakers.
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The Journey To 30 Challenge Activity No. 12: Make a Photo-Worthy Salad
Start with a base of more than one type of leafy green. Love iceberg lettuce? Great, but try tossing in a handful or two of chopped kale, baby arugula leaves (shown above), or thinly sliced Brussels sprouts.
Add protein. Older adults are encouraged to eat plenty of protein to maintain muscle mass. Think beyond the classic cubes of deli ham and turkey or rinsed chickpeas and try one — or more — of these ideas:
- Cooked lentils or beans
- Cooked quinoa
- Hardboiled egg (shown above) or “sliced” frittata (salads are a genius way to jazz up leftovers)
- Flaked grilled or canned salmon or tuna
- Marinated and cooked tempeh
Add strategic toppings. Up the fiber and nutrient quotient by adding colorful fruits, veggies (roasted and grilled veggies are delicious toss-ins), and fresh herbs. (The salad shown above includes beetroot, oranges, and tomatoes.)
Include a wow factor. Think about some flavors that you love in other dishes and try incorporating them into your bowl. Love a bit of tang? Add a spoonful of kimchi. Fan of TexMex? Add grilled corn or charred chiles. In the mood for Mediterranean? Toss in some feta cheese (shown above) and olives.
For more inspiration, check out these 12 easy ways to make salad taste amazing.
Or try this recipe:
Spinach Salad with Chickpeas, Sweet Potato, and Soft-Boiled Egg
Total time: 10 minutes
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of cumin (optional)
- Pinch of chili powder (optional)
- 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach
- 1 cup canned or cooked chickpeas, drained
- 1 cooked small sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 soft-boiled eggs, halved
- 1 ounce Parmesan, grated
What to do:
- In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin (if using), and chili powder (if using).
- Add spinach and toss to coat.
- Add chickpeas and sweet potato, and toss to combine.
- Serve topped with eggs and Parmesan.
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