Salads can be an awesome way to take in lots of greens and veggies that are a great source of fiber and nutrients, both of which can lead to a healthier you. But negatively picked on as “rabbit food,” salads, seen as synonymous with losing weight and going on diets, get a bad rap. That’s likely because salads just seems too simple and not at all satisfying when what you really crave is a burger and fries. And, let’s face it, if your salad leaves you hungry for more, it’s not doing your fat loss goals any favors.
It’s time to toss the old idea of what a salad is, and make it up to be the meal game changer that it really can be. By making some of the following additions and swaps, you can power up your salad from wimpy to winning when it comes to health benefits, controlling cravings, and great taste.
- Lettuce Help: Walk into the produce aisle at any supermarket, and there are lots of greens from which to choose. However, they’re not all created equally. For example, Iceberg lettuce, which is a common salad base, doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrients. However, Romaine lettuce, which has a similar cool crunch as Iceberg, tends to be higher in nutritional value. More often than not, the darker the leaf, the more nutrient dense the lettuce. If you’re new to lettuce flavors, go for a spring mix, which balances neutral flavors with more buttery and bitter ones. Or branch out and go for a bowl of spinach, Boston, or arugula.
- A Veggie Rainbow: If you’re only adding carrots and broccoli to your greens, you’re missing out on flavor and health benefits. Dieticians recommend eating a rainbow variety of vegetables. Go for red tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, green onions, and purple cabbage in addition to your old standbys and you’ll take in a wider array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Protein Power: Protein is a must at every meal. It’s not only essential to building muscle but also to keeping you feeling fuller longer. If you’re a meat eater, try chicken, turkey, salmon, or tuna as a high-protein topper. Other great options are hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds (which also offer healthy fats), chickpeas, and black beans.
- Rethink Dressing: While dressings such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar can be a way to add flavor and good fats, too much of a good thing can get boring. Instead of reaching for a liquid, try sprinkling on seasonings instead.
- Sweeten the Bowl: Are veggies growing old? Add in fruit for a new flavor profile. Berries, nectarines, grapes, and more can brighten a boring bowl, while still offering lots of nutrients your body needs.
- Pick a Theme: Switch up your salads by having a little fun with them. If you’re craving Mexican food, top some greens with fajita-spiced chicken, avocado, bell peppers, and black beans. Instead of dressing, swap in salsa. In the fall, add apples, dried cranberries, and walnuts to eat while enjoying the changing colors of the season. There’s a salad for every mood and time of year, you just need to be creative.
Say goodbye dull salads and hello to a more delectable dish. Have fun with your topped greens, and you’ll enjoy what you eat, how you feel, and the way you look.
What’s your salad must-have? Share with others in the comments!