Salads are often considered a healthy food choice, and a great meal option, especially during the summer months, but they can become a little mundane if you're sticking to the regular lettuce, tomato, cucumber and grilled chicken on a daily rotation.
There are a lot of fresh ingredients that you can add to your regular healthy salad to make it more nutritious, tastier and more satisfying. By adding more ingredients, it might be easier for some people to hit their kilojoule/calorie energy intake and macronutrients, making it feel like a full, satisfying meal, rather than a side dish.
Salads are often associated with ‘weight loss’ but that’s not always true. As with any meal, you need to be mindful of what is going into your salad, and that you are nourishing your body with the good stuff. Processed foods and some dressings can have hidden ingredients, so it’s always good to be aware of what’s going into your bowl.
Here are a few recommended variations for your at-home salad bar to make your meals a little more enticing.
1. There are so many more greens than lettuce
Let’s start with the base of your salad. Lettuce is not the only leafy vegetable that can be used as a salad bedding. Other greens that not only pack fibre but also more nutrients than your lettuce include spinach, kale, watercress, arugula (rocket) and broccoli. Give these a try to replace the standard lettuce.
2. Make your salad colourful
Give your salad a touch of colour. Aside from your usual tomato, you can add carrots, bell peppers, red cabbage, beetroots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, olives or baby corn. These vegetables, with their anti-inflammatory properties, can make salads more nutrient dense.
3. Fruity goodness
Adding more colour to your salad can also mean adding fruits! It adds texture and flavour - may it be sweet or sour - to your usual salad as a topping. You can choose to add sliced apples, berries, grapes, kiwi, orange, pomegranate arils, mangoes or a fruit fresh in season.
Check out this nice cream recipe.
4. Tired of chicken?
Chicken is still often a welcome choice for salads, but you can try mixing it up by replacing chicken with boiled eggs, seafood (fish and prawns), beef, tofu, chickpeas, legumes and beans.
5. Grains are great
Grains like brown rice, quinoa, couscous and barley are versatile and with a touch of seasoning, taste great too. They can provide you with additional energy, protein and fibre you need to make you more satisfied after your meal.
6. Go for healthy fats
Lastly, choose healthy fats to go with your salad for extra richness and satiety value. You can add sliced avocadoes or homemade guacamole, nuts, seeds and coconut flakes for toppings, or oil and vinegar-based dressings instead of the heavy cream ones.
Looking for more nutrition advice? Chatting to our Fernwood Food Coaches can be a great place to start.