10 Superfoods In One Delicious Salad: Why Tabouli Is Such A Healthy Dish

Photo: @mpessaris

Growing up in a Mediterranean home, I was fortunate to experience the benefits of healthy eating at an early age. I came across an article that noted tabouli, a Lebanese salad, was ranked as one of the healthiest dishes. If you don’t mind the dicing and chopping, tabouli is not only fresh and healthy, but also offers a variety of tastes, textures, and colors.

I typically don’t measure the ingredients, so adjust as you like, depending on your preference. There are a lot of varieties now that tabouli has become popular in many cultures, and it’s any easy dish you can adjust to your nutritional benefit.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches of parsley, chopped
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
  • Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Several leaves of fresh peppermint, chopped
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat) OR quinoa for a gluten-free option (amount varies depending on your preference)
  • Olive oil (just enough to spray over the salad)
  • Fresh lemon juice of one lemon (or more), squeezed
  • Allspice (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste) – optional

Directions:

Finely chop the onion and pour the salt and allspice over the onion, mixing them well. Meanwhile, soak the bulgur in warm water for 20 minutes and squeeze out the excess water, (or soak in the lemon juice for a crunchier and more lemony flavor). If you are using quinoa, cook as directed. Chop/dice the rest of the ingredients and spray with olive oil. Toss and enjoy. Serve with pita bread (soft or baked), or over Romaine lettuce leaves.

This is a vegan dish, and can be gluten-free if you replace the bulgur with quinoa. Here are the health benefits of each of the ingredients, which make this dish a combination of superfoods!

1. Bulgur

Bulgur is high in fiber and protein, low in fat, has a low glycemic index, and contains potassium and iron.

Quinoa is a complete protein (it contains all the essential amino acids) and is high in iron and calcium. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper and fiber.

2. Onions

Onions contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. They can prevent cardiovascular disease, especially since they can reduce the risk of blood clots. Onions also protect against stomach and other forms of cancer, and certain infections. Onions can improve lung function, which can help symptoms of asthma.

3. Garlic

This member of the onion family helps manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and has shown to be a strong antibiotic.

4. Parsley

Parsley contains more vitamin C than most vegetables and approximately three times as much as oranges. It has twice as much iron as spinach, and is a good source of manganese, calcium, and potassium. It also contains flavonoids that act as antioxidants. Parsley is high in vitamin A (known for vision benefits), and can reduce the risk of diabetes and atherosclerosis. When eaten raw, it can cleanse the blood and can assist with removing some kidney and gallstones. It can be used to treat ear infections and bruises, as well.

5. Peppermint

This herb can treat indigestion, respiratory problems, headache, nausea, and fever. It also aids in stomach and bowel spasms and pain, and helps in clearing the respiratory tract. Peppermint helps teeth and gums by reducing germs. Peppermint oil contains numerous minerals and nutrients, including manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium, and copper. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

6. Cucumbers

Cucumbers can reduce the risk of diabetes and cholesterol, and they can control blood pressure. Due to cucumbers' having high water content and dietary fiber, they are very effective in ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, aiding in digestion. Cucumbers have been connected to reducing risk of several cancers like breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate cancer. They are also rich in vitamins A, B1, B6, C & D, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

7. Tomatoes

These widely consumed fruits are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. They are naturally low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. The lycopene found in tomatoes makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage and has been shown to improve bone mass, which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Lycopene can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer. The antioxidants in tomatoes (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage. Chromium helps to regulate blood sugar. Tomatoes have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

8. Lemon juice

Lemon juice contains important nutrients like vitamins B and C, proteins, carbohydrates, and phosphorous. The flavonoid in lemon juice contains antioxidants, which fight off infections and high fevers. Lemons also have been known to relieve asthma symptoms, sore throats, and tonsillitis. They cleanse the liver and assist in food digestion.

9. Olive oil

Olive oil may lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. It can also help normalize blood clotting. Some research shows that olive oil may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control.

10. Allspice

Native to the Caribbean and parts of Central America, this berry tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It aids in digestion, can reduce gas and bloating, and it controls blood sugar levels. It's also used to relieve mild pain caused by menstrual cramps, headaches, toothaches, and arthritis. It has been used to treat infections and coughs as well.

I hope you try tabouli and incorporate it into your diet, as it has so many health benefits and can easily be adjusted to fit your dietary needs and preferences.

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