Yearning for a flavor-packed, healthy salad? You’re not alone.
Because lately my clients have been asking, “what can I put on my salads so they are not boring,” I have compiled ideas for you to try. While not comprehensive, I hope this list inspires you to experiment, eat creatively, and, most of all, enjoy every bite.
A few reminders. First of all, use organic when possible, fresh and whole ingredients always. Also, eat as many different colors as you can. And stay away from packaged “toppings” and croutons. Instead, make your own. Rather than a bottled dressing, ditch the dressing, or splash on balsamic vinegar and maybe olive or avocado oil. In addition, remember to take into account your own dietary sensitivities and needs. We are all different! Happy creating!!
While this category contains the usual list of characters, I’ve also included some with which you may be not familiar. Some vegetables require a bit of cooking to enhance flavor and texture. Try roasting and sautéing. Other vegetables which may be used raw may also be cooked (ie,, Brussels sprouts, peas, broccoli, and so on): Avocado, Olives (black, green), Carrots (orange, white, purple), Corn, Celery, Red Onion, Green Onion, Peas, Corn, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Cauliflower (white, green, purple, yellow), Cabbage (purple, green), Jicama, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Swiss Chard, Napa Cabbage, Peas, Corn, Radish, Yellow (summer) Squash, Chard, Beans (greens, purple, wax), Mushroom, Peppers (green, red, yellow, orange), Spinach, Tomatoes, Snap Peas, Leak, Kohlrabi (fleshy inside of bulb), Sweet potato, Parsnip,Squash (winter), Turnip, Rutabaga, Chard, Beet (golden, purple),Collards, Asparagus, Artichoke hearts, Carmalized yellow onion, Kohlrabi, Water chestnuts.
Nuts and Seeds
If it’s a nut or a seed and you like it, throw it on there! There are many from which to choose: pecans, cashews, macadamia, walnut, pumpkin, sesame, pepita, flax, and more. Many nuts and seeds taste great roasted. Give it a try.
Bean, Legumes, Grains, and Rice
While beans, legumes, grains and rice must be cooked before eating, the possible combinations are endless. Beans and legumes: black, navy, kidney, chick peas (garbanzo), Great Northern, pinto, red, white, adzuki, cannellini, butter, lentils (all colors!). Grains: millet, barely, quinoa. Rice: brown, basmati, jasmine, white, and wild rices are just a few of the hundreds of types of rice available world-wide. Be adventurous, try an ethnic market and see what they have in stock.
Add fresh fruit for a bit of sweet taste. Try any kind of fruit you like! Most popular: oranges, strawberries, pineapple, mango, apples of all varieties and colors, banana, grapes of all colors, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Fruit mixes well with nuts, so experiment.
While most of us are familiar with dried raisins and cranberries on salads, it pays to think outside the box here: pineapple, coconut, apricot, mango, apple, blueberry, cherry, plum (prune), blackberry.
Meat, Fish and Cheese
Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, bison, goat, and seafood are all good choices. Canned seafood is simple to add, as is leftover meat from meals. Cheese, in moderation, is a great addition as well.
Here’s where it gets FUN! Add any leftover food to the top of your salad, warm or cold. Some ideas: Taco meat, chili, roasted vegetables, BBQ meat, pot pie, Italian food of all kinds, Mexican food of all kinds…the possibilities are endless.
While looking at this list and deciding what to put on your salad may seem daunting, the best thing to do is just begin experimenting. Here are some ideas: chopped apples, red onion, walnuts, and feta cheese; chicken, grapes, and pistachios; tuna, avocado, grapes and rice; taco meat, corn, black beans; chili, green onion; and roasted winter vegetables, pecans and apples.
Most of all, have fun creating and experimenting! Happy eating!!