10 Ways to Spruce Up Your Salad
If you find yourself munching on the same old lettuce and tomatoes day in and day out, maybe it's time for a makeover. Here are 10 tips for building a better salad:
1. Mix up your greens. There's nothing wrong with lettuce, but with so many varieties of salad-ready greens available, why be boring? Toss together a combination of Swiss chard, baby spinach, radicchio, arugula, and/or watercress and discover the sweet, bitter, and peppery differences in flavor. And remember: The darker the green, the richer it is in nutrients.
2. Add fresh fruit. Apples, pears, mango, pineapple, orange and grapefruit sections all taste great on greens, especially darker, heartier greens like spinach. Fresh fruit supplies extra vitamins A and C and fiber, and its sweetness counters and complements the sharp flavor of greens like arugula and watercress.
3. Think in color. To build a healthy salad, choose deeply colored vegetables such as sweet red, green, yellow, or orange pepper slices, grated carrots, broccoli florets and, of course, tomatoes. These fresh vegetables not only add vitamins A and C but also a host of phytochemicals, which are natural substances that help fight chronic disease and are found only in plant foods.
4. Toss with beans. Add a cupful of black, kidney, cannellini, pinto, pink, or garbanzo beans to your salad and you'll also add lots of vegetable protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins. Look for salad recipes that feature beans as a theme, such as three-bean salad, black beans and corn, or Middle-Eastern style lentil salad.
5. Top with lean protein. Turn your salad into a hearty and healthy main coarse by topping leafy greens and mixed salad vegetables with chunks of roast chicken or turkey, fresh or canned salmon or tuna, or sliced, hard-cooked egg whites.
6. Sprinkle with nuts and seeds. Top your salad with slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, or sunflower or pumpkins seeds. Nuts are full of fiber, protein and healthy fats.
7. Make it cheesy. For a calcium boost, add a bit of shredded cheddar, muenster or Swiss, crumbled feta or goat, or any favorite cheese. Look for reduced-fat and low-sodium varieties.
8. Go for the good fats. Olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that even comes in flavors such as garlic, herb, and lemon. Salad dressings made with extra-virgin olive oil are the most flavorful of all. And when oil is packed with all that flavor, you don't have to drown your salad in dressing; a little goes a long way.
9. Flavor up with fresh herbs. Like other dark green vegetables, herbs such as parsley, dill, and basil add nutrients to your salad bowl along with great taste.
10. Get grainy. Make your own croutons by toasting slices of whole-grain bread and cutting them into cubes. Use whole-grain pasta for pasta salads and expand your repertoire of recipes to include grain-based salads like tabbouleh, made with cracked wheat (bulgur) or quinoa.
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