Summer means farmers' markets are full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that means — salads! They're the perfect food for picnics and cookouts, but really, they can be enjoyed any day of the week.
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Aside from being chock-full of nutrients, salads are also hydrating if you build them with healthy water-rich foods. Staying on top of your hydration is key during summer given the higher temperatures, and perhaps, enjoying more adult beverages.
Here are seven hydrating summer salads — one for each day of the week.
1. Asian-Style Coleslaw
No, we're not talking the creamy coleslaw often served as a side at barbecues. This coleslaw salad stands on its own.
The base is made up of colorful cabbage. Did you know that water makes up more than 90 percent of the vegetable? Cabbage is also rich in glucosinolates, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and, yes, cabbage.
When you chop or chew these cruciferous vegetables, the glucosinolates activate (and that's a good thing). This compound has been linked to supporting heart health and reducing the risk of cancer, although more research is needed, according to Oregon State University.
Get the Asian-Style Coleslaw recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Spicy Purple Potato Salad
We often think of potatoes as starchy, carb-filled foods — which is true, they are a good source of healthy carbohydrates — but they're hydrating, too.
In fact, almost 80 percent of the veg is water. Carbs and a minimal amount of protein make up the remainder.
So yes, potato salad can be the perfect dish to bring to any summer cookout, but you'll want to consider a healthier version of your traditional mayo-based recipe. This recipe includes purple potatoes and that added pop of color means extra health benefits.
An April 2016 study in Food Chemistry found that certain cooking methods can reduce purple potatoes' antioxidant content. However, boiling potatoes (like this recipe calls for) actually has little effect on the antioxidant content, reducing it only by 8 percent compared to other methods like stir-frying and microwaving.
Bonus: Air-frying the potatoes actually increased the antioxidant content by about 30 percent!
Get the Spicy Purple Potato Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Party Pasta Salad
Pasta salad on its own isn't very hydrating (or healthy), but throw in bell peppers, broccoli and basil, and you've not only made this a more hydrating salad, but you've upped the nutrition offerings as well.
Instead of using traditional pasta, which is full of starchy white carbs, this dish calls for a legume-based protein. Legumes such as lentils are rich in fiber and contain other health-promoting nutrients that may play a role in cancer prevention, according to a January 2018 prospective study published in Clinical Nutrition.
If you're on a vegan or vegetarian diet or are trying to limit your salt intake, consider cutting the prosciutto and cheese.
Get the Party Pasta Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Caprese Cocktail Salad
Few things taste more like summer than a fresh tomato off the vine. And the good news is, they're super hydrating — as in, water makes up 95 percent of the fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit).
Pair this with fresh basil, which comes in at about 93 percent water.
Tomatoes are actually the second most popular vegetable in the U.S., falling right behind potatoes, according to a July 2016 paper in Nutrition Today. This makes the red fruit crucial since the majority of us fall short of our fruit and vegetable intake on a daily basis.
However, we typically eat tomatoes as pasta sauce or ketchup — not by actually eating fresh tomatoes. Let this summer salad help you change that.
Get the Caprese Cocktail Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Cowgirl Black Bean Salad
The tomatoes, corn and cilantro in this bean salad will help you stay hydrated this summer. We know tomatoes are predominately water (95 percent), but it turns out fresh corn (77 percent) and fresh cilantro (94 percent) are, too.
Fresh corn is also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help protect your eyes, according to a paper published in Food Science and Human Wellness in September 2018.
Get the Cowgirl Black Bean Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad
The base of this salad is quinoa, along with a blend of fresh cilantro and parsley. But the recipe itself calls for grilled vegetables, leaving it up to you to decide which to include.
The most hydrating vegetables you can add to the grill are lettuce (have you ever tried grilling romaine?), bok choy, zucchini, bell peppers and asparagus. Mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli are great, too.
Even cooked quinoa is more than 70 percent water. It soaks up the liquid — broth or water — that you cook it in. It's also rich in fiber and protein, providing 3 grams and 6 grams, respectively.
Get the Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Gingery Fruit Salad
And lastly, for dessert, try this spin on a fruit salad that brightens things up with fresh ginger.
When berries and peaches are in season, this is a must-make salad. Though these fruits are delicious as is, they're especially tasty together in this colorful salad.
Peaches and berries are what the recipe calls for, although you can use any in-season fruit. These are two excellent picks, however, because they're both super hydrating. Fresh peaches and blackberries are both about 90 percent water.
Get the Gingery Fruit Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
- MyFoodData: "Cabbage"
- Oregon State University: "Cruciferous Vegetables"
- MyFoodData: "Boiled Potatoes"
- Food Chemistry: "Domestic Cooking Methods Affect the Phytochemical Composition and Antioxidant Activity of Purple-fleshed Potatoes"
- Clinical Nutrition: "Legume Consumption and Risk of All-cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality in the PREDIMED Study"
- MyFoodData: "Tomatoes"
- MyFoodData: "Basil"
- Nutrition Today: "Tomato Consumption in the United States and Its Relationship to the US Department of Agriculture Food Pattern"
- MyFoodData: "Sweet Yellow Corn"
- MyFoodData: "Cilantro"
- Food Science and Human Wellness: "Corn Phytochemicals and Their Health benefits"
- MyFoodData: "Vegetables with the Most Water"
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Quinoa"
- MyFoodData: "Yellow Peaches"
- MyFoodData: "Blackberries"