By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC and Crystal Liebenberg BS
Salads can be a hit or miss for most people. Generally, when people think of salads they think of the generic greens, cucumber, tomato, and maybe carrots or croutons; however, a salad can be both a nutrient-filled dish as well as provide satisfaction and fullness. When making a salad, don’t be too concerned about what is the “best” topping to add. Rather, try incorporating the rainbow — as many colors as possible — because each color provides its own unique nutrient profile to nourish your body.
The general rule to follow when trying to make a delicious salad is starting with a base (greens of choice — kale, spinach, romaine, arugula) then add your toppings (cucumber, mushroom, bell pepper, radishes, tomato, carrot, cauliflower, avocado, red onion). Next time, try to “spice up” your salad by adding something that boosts flavor and excitement.
Here are a few simple ways to “spice up” your salads:
- Add wholegrain of choice to increase the bulk and fiber of your salad which will help fill you up and keep you satisfied. Some whole grain options include quinoa, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, or wheat berry.
- Throw some nuts in. Nuts provide extra protein, healthy fats, and some crunch. For an even greater variety, add multiple different nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews) of choice in the same salad.
- Add chopped up fresh herbs (dill, mint, basil, or cilantro) for a boost of flavor.
- Spice up the type of protein you add. A few other great protein options to add to salads include chickpeas, grilled tofu (make sure to add flavor when you cook it), salmon, beans, chickpeas, shrimp, edamame, or eggs.
- Add something sweet to complement all of the earthy produce flavors. Some great sweet options include strawberries, blueberries, apples, pomegranate, or dried cranberries.
- Try making your own home-made salad dressing such as:
- Simple: Balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Asian: Honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, and rice vinegar
- Honey mustard: Honey, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper
- Italian: Olive oil, vinegar, water, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper
- Creamy avocado: blended avocado, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, minced garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper
- Raspberry vinaigrette: blended raspberries, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and honey
Add an oil-based salad dressing to your salad to make sure your body absorbs all those great fat-soluble vitamins.