The art of making a salad is sometimes overlooked. Salads tend to be viewed as side dishes, or quick and easy meals. To me, there is so much more to a salad than just the basics. Sure, you can use iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes, but why go basic when your salad can not only look like a work of art, but taste like one too. Below are my tips for making the perfect, nutrition-packed, color-popping, belly-pleasing salad.
Base: Ditch the boring greens. Romaine is fine and dandy but there are better options out there with not only more flavor, but more nutrients too. Try arugula, marinated kale, or spinach.
Raw: Think colorful! Colorful veggies pack tons of nutrients. Who doesn’t want to eat a vibrant meal that is also excellent for you? Switch it up a bit. Try radishes, shaved brussels sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, orange bell peppers, and purple carrots.
Roasted: Need to use last night’s roasted veggies? Throw them on top of your salad! My favorites are roasted sweet potatoes, roasted eggplant, roasted beets, roasted fennel and roasted string beans. They add complex flavor and make your salad feel like more of a hearty meal.
Fats: Fats are just as important as every other ingredient in your salad. Adding fat to your salad helps your body to absorb all the nutrients found in the veggies you choose, like beta-carotene, lycopene and more. I love adding avocado, feta cheese, olives, nuts, or seeds.
Protein: When it comes to salad, veggies are usually the star of mine, but a little added protein can help give you a boost. Some of my favorites include; raw tofu, hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken, hummus, or beans.
Healthy Toppers: Now that your salad is almost complete, you can add bursts of color and mega-nutrients by topping it with things like; pomegranate seeds, berries, fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, artichoke hearts, pepitas, and maybe even some ground flax or hempseeds.
Dressing: There are two routes you can take with dressing; creamy or vinaigrette. If you’re going vinaigrette, I like using things like; a healthy oil base such as olive or avocado oil, vinegar such as apple cider or red wine, a citrus such as lemon or lime, some dijon mustard, and any herbs you like! If you’re going creamy, I’m a fan of; olive oil, greek yogurt, lemon, parsley, chives, dill, and minced garlic. Add all these ingredients to a blender and voila!
There you have it. It’s easy to pack on tons of calories to a salad, but with the right ingredients and right mindset, a salad can be the healthiest, most nutritious and most delicious meal of the day.