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Perfect Salad Meals
Natural Eating is Surprisingly Simple, Remaking Our Health and Lives

By Mark Lundegren © 2008

Would you like to begin to improve your health, right now and for the rest of your life?

As part of my work for HumanaNatura, almost every day someone expresses this wish to me and asks for help achieving it.  Like you, many people today want to live more healthfully, and almost all of us want to live longer and more fully.  And we should – we should want to get more out of our health and lives, and we should act on and fulfill this wish each day.

If you are ready to improve your health and take your life to a new and fuller state, there are two important ideas about your natural health I can share with you.  One idea is that dramatic new health and well-being can begin for you right away, from this moment forward, by focusing first on your diet and beginning to eat more naturally,

The second idea I can share is that natural and optimal eating is quite simple, and even surprisingly simple for most people.  In fact, more optimal eating is so uncomplicated and health transforming that you may soon suspect you have been misled about other critical aspects or dimensions of your health.  And this suspicion turns out to be true. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Others may have misled you with good intentions, or not, but their actions point to a larger and quite important general misunderstanding of our health in our time, a fact rooted in our common history and that limits all of our lives today.  And this misunderstanding includes many dimensions of our health, dimensions of our healthy human life that lie outside of the way we eat, with critically important implications for our well-being and quality of life.

The truth is that our modern world is full of many things that we simply do not need to be healthy and well, or that actively impede progressive health for us.  Because of this, you may be more distracted and living apart from your health than you realize, and also may have far more control over your health and well-being than you recognize too.  Perhaps what you most need is to better understand your options and opportunities for greater health and well-being, which is the mission and focus of HumanaNatura.

In the very least, one thing we all most certainly have enormous and immediate control over, an aspect of ourselves which can have rapid and lasting impacts on our health and quality of life, is the way we eat each day.

A Natural Diet Explained

Information on HumanaNatura’s natural diet program is available free on our community website, as part of our seven-part natural health program.  For now, let me break natural human eating down to its simplest terms:

  • Natural eating is essential to our health and well-being
  • Natural eating involves a diet based on how people ate in wild nature
  • There are five, and only five, food types in a natural human diet
  • Modern science discovered and can help to optimize our natural diet

I did say natural eating was simple, and I hope these four short points convey that I wasn’t kidding.  Before I list the five natural food types, I want to also add that these food types have been hypothesized and confirmed as our natural foods only in the last few decades, through the patient work of a great many anthropologists and evolutionary scientists. 

In truth, the list of five food types I am about to give you may seem, well, too short and quite counterintuitive at first, and is very likely at odds with many things you have been taught and believe today about correct eating.  But, as I said, many beliefs about our health are like that in our time – modern science is undoing old ideas and re-making our understanding of many aspects of our human life, health, and well-being.

Regardless of what you have been told or taught in the past, or what you believe today, there really are only five food types in a natural human diet:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Meats, fish, and eggs
  • Raw fruits
  • Raw nuts
  • Water

Every other food, everything else not on this list, whether it grows on a farm or in nature, is simply not part of our natural human diet, not a part of the way people ate for millions of years in wild nature and before the beginning of fixed civilization about 12,000 years ago.  And you can confirm this now well-established scientific idea on your own.  How? Simply by eating only these foods for a time and seeing for yourself that this is our natural diet, that this way of eating greatly promotes and proves essential to our health and well-being.

You can learn more about natural eating and the science behind it in the HumanaNatura natural health program.  For now, let me just add that there are four food types people commonly eat today that are not part of a natural and optimal human diet, foods that are toxic to us and work to undermine our health and well-being:  a) grains and cereals, b) beans and legumes, c) potatoes and other starchy plants, and d) every other food you can name.

Perhaps you question or disagree with these lists of natural and unnatural human foods.  That’s alright for now, but if you really want to be healthier and live more fully, beginning today, and if you want to change positively and perhaps live longer, you will need to begin to explore new alternatives in your life. 

So for now, as a case study in such an exploration, please try to keep an open mind about these natural diet ideas, and try them for yourself to see what you will see.  To help you begin this trial, and perhaps to set the stage for still larger personal exploration, let’s next consider just how easy (and not just how healthy) it is to eat naturally and optimally.

Introducing Salad Meals

Hunting and foraging in wild nature for our five natural foods is no longer a realistic alternative for most people today, nor will this necessarily guarantee an optimal diet for us.  Nature does still contain all of our natural and optimal foods, but they are normally spread out and the land around most of us has been converted to the cultivation of grains, legumes, and starchy roots (a process that began roughly 12,000 years ago as I said) or to commercial activity and sprawling cities and suburbs.  In any case, eating naturally today must be done in new ways.

Because of our historical inheritance and the physical facts of modern life, most of us must now obtain our natural foods from supermarkets and restaurants, which we can easily do, and then consume these foods within our local culture’s patterns for meals, which we normally can do quite easily too.  As we adjust and learn to eat naturally amidst modern life, we soon find that the simplest and most optimal way for us to eat naturally, enjoyably, and healthfully is to eat “salad meals” for our main meals each day.

I want to make sure I was clear about this, since it is very important to your long-term health and to making natural eating intuitive and nearly effortless.  Please note that I didn’t say we should have a salad with every meal.  What I said instead was that it is best if we have a salad for every main meal.  By this, I mean that it is best to eat “salad meals” for all, or almost all, of our meals (but not for snacks – and yes, you can and should snack on a natural diet).  When I say salad meals, I do want you to think that in the middle of your plate is a salad, and on the side of your plate is, well, the side of your plate. 

When I speak with people about this idea, that they should eat salad meals for all their main meals, many of us initially conjure up a mental image of lettuce, and feel an immediate void and longing for “real” food.  Perhaps you just did this as well.  Lettuce is a good start of course, a “base” as you will learn in a moment, but it is only a start, only the base of a salad meal. 

Lettuce is the foundation of a natural and optimal meal, but not the whole meal.  After all, raw vegetables are only one of the five types of natural human foods.  Since we have four more food types to go, and only one plate, we have to think more than lettuce when we talk about turning our meals into salad meals.

Salad Meal Basics

In practice, natural eating varies a bit from locale to locale, due to climate and cultural differences, and also due to personal food preferences.  But there are many fairly consistent aspects of natural eating around the world, in addition to the five natural food types and the optimal nature of salad meals.

Most natural health practitioners have a piece of fruit in the morning, and/or maybe a cooked egg or two, and/or some raw nuts or veggies.  This is a very typical breakfast and how many of us typically snack as well.  It’s a quick and easy meal, and a good way to begin or refuel during the day.  Some people, however, and perhaps all of us sometimes, will make a fruit salad for breakfast, for a snack or special treat.  Personally, if I do this, there is usually company involved.

Let me quickly summarize how to make great fruit salads, consistently and simply, in case you want one right away or maybe have guests coming.  Fruit salads are very easy to make and extraordinarily delicious to eat.  In addition to breakfast and snacks, fruit salads can be served as desserts and for special occasions where a light meal is desired.

  

Perfect Every Time Fruit Salads

  • Skin & cut up 1-5 different fruits and mix together
  • Use a bit of fresh citrus juice to prevent browning
  • Optional: add cut raw veggies – celery, carrots, sprouts, etc.
  • Optional: add whole, cut or crushed raw nuts
  • Optional: add a small amount of dried fruit (but just a bit)
  • Experiment with clever cutting, slicing, and presentation

 

Fairly easy, isn’t it?  The truth is that we can make wonderful fruit salads in almost no time and with great results, time after time.  Just one word of caution: it is just as easy to eat too much fruit.  Do keep in mind that fruit is natural but also high in sugars, was only a portion of our diet in nature, and needs to be consumed with a bit of moderation.  Please see the HumanaNatura diet plan for more information on optimizing your fruit intake – usually a serving or two of fruit once or twice a day is plenty, unless you are a very active person. Fruit is also ideally served and eaten earlier in the day, especially if our goal is to minimize conversion to body fat.

Now, let’s turn our attention our main topic, and the main course, salad meals.

Leaving aside breakfast, snacking, light meals, and special occasion desserts, what is left in an optimal natural diet are usually two meals, or I should say two salad meals, to complete our daily food intake.  We may perhaps eat more than two salad meals a day if we are a child or an athlete, or a child athlete I suppose.  But for most of the rest of us, what this probably means is a salad meal for lunch each day, and then another salad meal for dinner.

Salad meals take a little more time for preparation than fruit salads and can be quite elaborate if you want, but day-to-day, we are still talking very simple.  When I say simple, I mean usually less than twenty minutes to prepare and serve once you get the rhythm of making salad meals.

If you will be preparing daily salad meals yourself, whether for yourself or others, a few guidelines are in order:

  1. At least one salad meal each day should contain an animal protein (meats, fish or eggs – at least eggs if you have vegetarian inclinations)
  2. Our heaviest and most protein-rich meal should usually be late in the day, when we least need to be active and alert,
  3. Use organic produce and free-range livestock whenever possible
  4. Rinse all your foods with clean water before preparing
  5. Take normal hygienic precautions when storing, handling, and cooking raw meats, fish, and eggs
  6. Season your salads with herbs if you want but use no added salts
  7. Cooking oils and salad dressings should always be free of all additives, hydrogenated oils, and unsaturated or trans fats.

Perfect Salad Meals

In practice, salad meals can be prepared quickly and expertly if you think of the salad meal as having four key components:

  • Base – one or more lettuces or leafy vegetables, dressed to taste
  • Mix – a combination of chopped, sliced, or whole veggies, and perhaps a bit of fruit
  • Nut – one or more whole, chopped, crushed, or sliced raw nuts
  • Protein (optional) – cut-up, warm or cold, cooked meat, fish, or eggs

When thinking about salads this way, creating perfect salad meals becomes much easier and quite intuitive.  Salad meals simply involve preparing and then combining a base, mix, nut, and (if desired) an animal protein in new and inventive ways.  The underlying process of creating what are quite often very inviting salad meals is therefore very simple and the same every time, while offering the potential for tremendous variety and truly exciting daily meals.

 

Perfect Every Time Salad Meals

  • If your protein takes more than 20 minutes to prepare, begin cooking it first
  • Rinse and dry your base vegetables (can be done in advance)
  • Cook your protein and allow it to sit for a few minutes (or refrigerate)
  • Cut your mix vegetables and cook lightly if desired (letting cool a bit)
  • Cut or tear your base as needed, dress and toss in your nut(s)
  • Place the dressed and nutted base on plates or in a bowl
  • Arrange your finished mix on your base
  • Cut or slice your protein as needed
  • Place your protein on your mix
  • Garnish as desired and serve immediately

 

Even the most skeptical among us will have to admit that this is a fairly easy process for preparing a full meal.  In truth, anyone who can lift a fork can learn to do this, and do it quickly and expertly.  Pushing buttons on a microwave may be easier, but is far less likely to help us be as healthy as we can and to live as long as we might.  And we would miss the exquisite taste of a true salad meal, with its fresh mix of authentic foods from nature, foods that are natural for humans and a healthy celebration of natural human life, every day of our life.

Your Next Meal

With just a bit of practice, beginning today, you will surprise yourself and others at the marvelous fruit salads and nutritionally complete salad meals you bring to the table.  Both are natural meals that we can create quickly and savor slowly, enriching our mealtimes and transforming our health, for all our years to come.

If these ideas are new to you, I will again encourage you to keep an open mind and to explore, explore, explore the power and pleasure of natural eating in this way.  Even just thirty days of eating this way can change your level of health in remarkable ways, re-making you and perhaps making you a lifelong convert to natural eating – and perhaps leaving you to wonder what else in your life can be made healthier and more supportive of your well-being.

Let me end by encouraging you to make your next meal a delicious salad meal, and by wishing you great eating and abundant health and life.

 

Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.

 

 

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