We all know by now that we should eat more vegetables, right? Most of us grew up being reminded at mealtimes to “eat your vegetables” and for good reason. They contain massive amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds to help our bodies get healthy, stay healthy and thrive. A great way to get lots of vegetables into your day is with a salad. But what if you don’t like salad? What if you find salad to be boring and unappealing? Not to worry, because I’ve got your back. Today I’m giving you the salad tips you need to kiss boring salads goodbye forever. Ready? Let’s get started.
Change up Your Base
When you think of salad, are you thinking about the typical sad side salad you’d be served at most restaurants? Iceberg lettuce, maybe some shredded carrot, a couple slices of cucumber and one lone chunk of tomato? *Yawn* I wouldn’t be clambering to eat that every day either. Do yourself a favour and lose iceberg lettuce’s number. Not only is it nutrient poor, but it doesn’t have much going for it in the flavour department either.
The good news is, there is a huge selection of leafy greens you can use as a base instead. You don’t even have to stick to types of lettuce. You can use any leafy green (or a combo of leafy greens) you like. What about kale, bok choy, swiss chard, cabbage, beet greens, spinach, collard greens, and more? If you’re sitting there thinking “but I don’t like leafy greens” it’s okay. I’ve been there. Head on over and check out this post and then come on back.
The point is, there is no shortage of leafy green plants you can build your salad on. Change it up and give some new ones a try.
Add Cooked Components
Who says salads have to be entirely raw? It certainly wasn’t me! I love adding some cooked items to my dish. It opens up such a large variety of foods you can add. Things like roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tempeh, tofu and more. It also allows you to add any of those veggies that you prefer cooked over raw. Steamed veggies or flavourful roasted veggies. You can even sauté up some vegetables with your favourite seasonings and sprinkle them over the top for an extra pop of flavour.
I’ve never been afraid of being a little unconventional when it comes to my food choices. I figure it’s going into my mouth, who cares what anyone else thinks? Fruit might not be the most common salad topping, but I love it anyway. It lends a different flavour than your typical vegetable toppings. A little hit of sweet or tart, depending on the fruit you choose. It’s also a great way to eat more salad if you aren’t a big fan. My picky eater will devour a bowl of spinach if I’ve put some strawberries and clementines on top. Some diced apple, blueberries or even peach slices make a great addition. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and add a little fruit if that’s your thing.
It’s All in the Sauce
A good dressing can totally make your salad and add a ton of flavour. The dressing can be as simple as a squeeze of citrus or a drizzle of vinegar. There are tons of flavoured vinegars on the market now, so if you like that acidic pop, have a look around for some new options. You can also experiment with different oil-free dressings or make your own to get exactly the flavour you’re looking for. Once you find some dressings you love you’ll begin to look forward to a big, beautiful salad to drizzle them over.
Include Some Colour
We are naturally attracted to colourful foods. You’ve probably noticed this while scrolling Instagram or looking at recipes online. The colourful dishes tend to catch your eye and look more appealing than other foods. This is by design and for good reason. The brighter and richer the colour, the more nutrients and beneficial plant compounds the food contains. Each different coloured food contains different nutrients, so include as many colours as you can. This will ensure you include a well-rounded array of nutrients while making an eye-catching salad that you can’t wait to dive in to.
Add Some Grains
Again, thinking outside the box a little when it comes to salad toppings. Grains may not be the first thing you think of when building a salad, but they add some different texture and make your salad more satisfying. When you’re eating a salad as a meal rather than a side, you definitely want to add some satiating components that will keep you going until your next meal. Try things like quinoa, rice, millet, couscous, or even pasta.
Utilize Existing Condiments
Making a next level salad is all about adding flavour wherever you can. Don’t be afraid to use some existing condiments to add some interest for your palate. You can add things like salsa or chutney, guacamole, pico de gallo, bruschetta, hummus, hot sauce, sriracha, or balsamic vinegar. The sky is the limit here and these are just a few suggestions. You know what you like so raid that fridge and see what condiments might work well on a big beautiful salad.
Another great source of flavour, try some fresh herbs on your salad. This is also a great way to use up some herbs you have leftover from that new recipe you tried. Try things like parsley, basil, cilantro, mint or dill to add some fresh flavour to your bowl.
Herbs and spices contain powerful antioxidants. They offer higher antioxidant levels than any other food group. So, by adding some fresh herbs to your salad, not only are you adding a nice pop of flavour, but you’re also significantly increasing the antioxidant content and the protective power of your dish.
Mimic Meals You Love
What’s your favourite food? Stop and think about it for a moment. What components make that food a win for you? Try tossing those components on a salad to mimic your favourite meals. Love tacos? Me too! Try building a taco inspired salad. Start with greens, add some of your favourite taco filling, some typical taco toppings and maybe a handful of baked tortilla strips to pull it all together. Big fan of burgers? That can work too. Top your salad with all your favourite burger toppings and cut up a veggies burger patty to toss on top. By building a salad based on foods you already like, you know you’re going to enjoy every bite. So have at it and get creative.
Add Some Texture
Nothing is more boring than eating a big bowl of leaves. You want to change up the textures so you get a little something different in every bite. Don’t be afraid to experiment with components that add some crunch. Things like roasted nuts, slivered almonds, pepitas, hemp seeds, roasted chickpeas or baked tortilla strips. Or even some softer components like baked sweet potato, squash or cooked grains. By changing up the textures you’re adding some interest to your salad.
Variety Is Key
No matter how much you love a salad combo you’ve come up with, you’re going to get bored if you eat it every single day. Variety is the spice of life and also the key to nutrient diversity. (Which just happens to be really protective to your health). So, don’t stop experimenting and changing things up. There are endless possibilities and combinations you can come up with. Have fun with it and enjoy finding new combinations you love.
The Bottom Line
Salad doesn’t have to be boring. It’s all in how you make it. Instead of throwing the same 5 ingredients together day after day and yawning through your meal, get out of your comfort zone and experiment a little. Make your salads as vibrant and beautiful as you are and you’ll be excited to dig in and enjoy.
What are your favourite salad combinations? Let us know in the comments below.
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Feature image: Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash