There is a classic Simpsons episode where Homer and Bart chant to Lisa, “You don’t win friends with salad.” This popular television family would mark any occasion with donuts and Duff beer, if Homer had anything to do with it.
You should make friends with your salad, but it sure can get boring. I remember the basic garden salad at the dinner table growing up. It was always made with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber, with an assortment of salad dressing choices: Thousand Island, French, Creamy Caesar…so predictable!
Salad is typically the go-to food when creating healthy eating habits because there is usually an assortment of vegetables and light dressing options. You don’t want your relationship with your salad to get stale though. So here are five ways to keep things interesting, healthy and satisfying, too.
Get Creative with Your Greens
Garden and Caesar salads are easily the most common, however, kale or spinach definitely packs a healthy punch. Even tossing broccoli, mung bean, or alfalfa sprouts will add some more nutrients and flavor. Spinach and kale are full of dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. As a whole, there is more nutritional value when you combine various dark leafy greens to create a healthy salad.
Throw in Avocado
Avocados have a great creamy taste and are loaded with nutrients like B vitamins, monounsaturated fats (the good kind of fat) and dietary fiber. Cut half of an avocado into cubes and toss them on top of your prepared salad. A healthy diet certainly needs some healthy fats, and avocados are an easy way to get some fat in your salad without the guilt.
Consider a Few Eggs
Are you looking for some more protein in your salad? Go for eggs: One boiled egg contains 5.54 g of protein, which is important to help create muscles, tissues and immune system antibodies. Boil a couple of eggs and chop them up into your healthy salad. Remember that organic eggs are the only way to avoid any antibiotics, steroids or hormones from factory-farmed hens.
Add Whole Grains
Numerous studies show there are lots of benefits to a diet high in fiber. Salad can do its part. There is plenty of fiber with the dark green leafy vegetables; however, whole grains will add more fiber and protein to your meal, and boost variety as well. Throw in half a cup of quinoa or brown rice, as each serving will provide you with over 10 g of protein and an abundance of other nutrients like manganese, magnesium and tryptophan. All good!
Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Most store-bought salad dressings simply aren’t healthy. They contain lots of salt, sugar and other chemical additives. As with most things, making your own dressing is a good idea because you can control the ingredients, and the resulting calories, too!
For a quick and easy option I really enjoy, combine half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, one to two teaspoons of mustard, one teaspoon of maple syrup or honey, a clove of chopped garlic, fresh oregano and sea salt. You can swap out the olive oil for another light oil like avocado or sesame oil.
For another twist on the conventional salad, try making one that isn’t green at all. Shredding a beet and carrot together will create a colorful red and orange salad, and feel free to add your desired veggies to the mix. A few nuts, seeds and berries can add great flavor and added nutrients.
Those twists on tradition, paired with a little creativity, could have you coming back for a second helping!
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 160, 298, 632, 636, 674, 678.
Rose, D., “10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying,” Summer Tomato website, July 18, 2012; http://summertomato.com/10-ways-to-make-your-salad-more-satisfying/.
Hershey, M., “7 Things Your Salad Says about You,” SparkPeople website; http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1978.