Wheat-Free: Make a Meal of Salads

The best way to make a hearty entree salad on your wheat-free diet is to incorporate a protein. Adding beef, chicken, or seafood to any salad makes you feel like you've had a full dinner every time. Make a little extra and set some aside without the dressing so you can enjoy a salad lunch the next day.

If you're planning on taking extra salad to school or work the next day, place the salad dressing in a separate container so your salad remains crisp.

One of the best things about salads is that they're an easy meal to put together. Always keep some of these salad staples on hand: avocadoes, tomatoes, spinach, green leaf or romaine lettuce, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, mandarin oranges, nuts, cheese, and the meat of your choice. Salads are easy to keep wheat-free; just don't add croutons.

Here are a few suggestions to create a healthy, great-tasting meal salad:

  • Use organic produce and high-quality meat whenever possible. Doing so ensures that your salad is free of insecticides, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

  • Thoroughly rinse the produce with water. Using soap can leave your ingredients tasting soapy. Pat all of your leafy greens dry; the more water left on your salad fixings, the less crisp your salad will be.

  • Toss the salad carefully, allowing the dressing to cover all ingredients.

Understanding all the different chicken classifications you see at the store can be very confusing. Even the regulations that define these categories leave a lot of wiggle room for the manufacturers. The only true way to know how the chicken was raised is to buy from a local farmer whose farm you’ve visited. Truly organic, humane farmers love to share their craft, and the visit can be quite enlightening.

But if that’s not an option, here’s a breakdown of the basic labels you may find on chicken in the grocery store, starting with the best:

  • Organic: This is really the only label that has any laws behind it. The chickens are fed 100 percent organic feed. They have to be free-range, which means they are probably allowed to roam in a pasture, and given no antibiotics. Because regulators scrutinize the organic label, most organic farmers confirm to the strictest of rules.

  • Kosher or halal: These terms refer to Jewish or Muslim law, respectively. Birds with this label tend to be treated more humanely, and the farmers are held to higher standards than non-kosher or non-halal farmers. For example, they must check for sick animals and kill by hand rather than by machine.

  • Pastured: This terminology isn’t strictly legally regulated, so you need to do a bit of research into the manufacturer to find out what it means for that given brand. It implies that the birds can roam free and feed on their natural diet. They may additionally be fed grains (which aren’t part of their traditional diet), but on the whole they’re much happier and healthier chickens than conventionally raised birds.

  • Air-chilled: The chickens are cooled with air rather than in water.

  • Natural: The term natural refers only to what manufacturers have added after the birds are slaughtered, such as flavorings, colorings, or brines. It gives you no information about how the chicken was raised.

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