How to Build a Better Salad

greek salad

All salads are created equal…ly healthy, right?

Not exactly. While you may be making salads that aren’t high in calories, can you safely say you’re making salads that are high in nutrients? If not, we have just the info for you! Here are five important things to keep in mind to help you build your best salad.

 

Ditch the Iceberg

Iceberg lettuce is about as nutritious as it is flavorful, so if you’re still using it, the first thing to do is start building your better salad at the base. Try leafy, darker greens like spinach, kale, romaine, arugula, or radicchio. Or try a spring mix for varied flavors and texture!

So for your salad’s base, keep in mind that, generally, the darker the leaves, the more vitamins and minerals, and two cups of these mixed greens can get you your daily A, C, and K vitamins.

 

Keep Your Protein Lean

Proteins that negate that otherwise healthy salad:

  • Bacon bits
  • Fried meat
  • Sugared almonds

So use one (or some!) of these lean proteins instead:

  • Skinless poultry
  • Grilled/steamed seafood
  • Slivered almonds
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Lean beef
    • Flank steak
    • Extra-lean ground beef
  • Sliced pork tenderloin
  • Beans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh

See all the other healthier proteins you could be having instead of bacon bits or a few slices of fried chicken?

 

Make it Colorful

Definitely, some of the best – and best for you – salads are the most colorful ones. To boost the fiber and nutrition content of your salad, you want to get it looking like a rainbow! Try mixing in some of these fruits and veggies to find your favorite flavor combos:

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Radishes
  • Shredded carrots
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Pomegranate
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapples
  • Avocados

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Choose Better Flavor-Makers

For a crunch:

  • Instead of buttery, cholesterol-rich croutons, try
    • Crumbled whole grain crackers
    • Roasted chickpeas
    • Nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds)
    • Seeds (pumpkin, chia, sunflower)

For something sweet:

  • Instead of candied walnuts or sugared almonds, try
    • Dried fruits, like raisins
    • Cranberries
    • Blueberries

For your cheese on top:

  • Instead of a handful of cheddar or other high-fat cheese, (sparingly) try
    • Goat cheese
    • Feta cheese
    • Blue cheese
    • Parmigiana reggiano

And for even extra flavor:

  • Herbs
  • Salt-free seasonings
  • Olives
  • Capers

 

Know Your Salad Dressing

You can have the most flavorful, healthiest salad in the world, but if you’re not dressing it up correctly, all of that work could be for naught. Dressing ingredients can fall anywhere on the spectrum from super high-fat/high-calorie to really nutritious, so it’s important to know what makes up your salad dressing.

Of course, the best way to do that is to make your own salad dressing, but if you need to go with store-bought, Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar, Tessemae’s, and Trader Joe’s Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette, are excellent options!

 

 

So, now how ready are you for better – healthier and more flavorful – salads?

 

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