A salad should be 2 things- colorful & delicious! To me this means your salad should involve a variety of color & things you find absolutely tasty! However some people aren’t sure just HOW to build that perfectly balanced salad. So if you have ever found yourself at the salad bar in a panic on what to choose use these tips to get yourself a tasty meal without the stress of what to add!
#1 - GREENS!- This serves as the base of your salad. The dark, leafy greens are your best bet as the pack the most nutritious punch so this includes things like mixed greens, arugula, kale, chard, collards and spinach. If you aren’t up for some of these opt for the romaine- this has a higher water content and will give you a little more crunch.
#2- Veggies-The more color you can pack in here the better! Try to add at least 3 colors to get a variety of nutrients from different sources. Things like carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, onions, broccoli, peas, cabbage, etc.
#3- Carbs-Yes carbs- these are so important to giving you energy throughout the day and fueling your brain. This can be anything from fruits like pineapple, craisins, raisins, strawberries, blueberries & peaches to starchy veggies like butternut squash & sweet potatoes.
#4- Fats-healthy fats are going to keep you full longer & provide your body with sustained energy throughout the day. If you ever feel unsatisfied or still hungry after a salad you likely didn’t add enough fats! This can include things like olive or sesame oil for dressing, an avocado, olives, nuts & seeds or sprinkle of cheese.
#5- Proteins-It is so important to get a good protein source in your diet to help build your muscles and keep your immune system running strong. This can include things like animal meats, fish, hard boiled eggs, or a combination of nuts, seeds & grains which make a complete protein source by providing all of the essential amino acids.
#6- Toppings-this can really be anything you want! Add some crunch by adding some nuts & seeds, sprouts for added nutrients, or herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley. If you want to skip the dressing one of my favorite things to add is some hummus or baba ganoush! It provides a little extra nutritional value & acts similar as a dressing adding a pop of flavor & moisture to the dish!
Fun Tips:Combining ingredients to create a theme is great too! Asian inspired salads will have some broccoli & mixed veggies with some oranges or other citrus fruit like pineapple in them, greek will have some veggies, olives and feta cheese, mexican inspired will have things such as peppers, cilantro, onions & avocado. Play around with the foods you like best and see what kind of cool combinations you can come up with!
When getting salads out make try adding things you would never make at home! For example beets can be so messy to cook and add to salads & cabbage can be a pain to shred. So when I’m not I try to add these to my salads because it’s done for me already!