If you’re attempting to eat healthier by adding more produce into your diet, salads are an easy way to get started! Just try not to get suck into salad drudgery with a load of cheese and a hint of lettuce and tomatoes. Not knocking these options (except the equation quantities) but there are so much more to salads beside iceberg lettuce and tomato with cheese. Here are some options to consider adding to your salad that will not only knock your socks off, but give you energized delicious nutritious satisfaction.
- Start with a layer of fresh Mixed Greens. While iceberg lettuce is an option to have in this round, try to be a little more daring with some other greens! This can come in the form of many vibrant options like arugula (rocket), green & red romaine lettuce, kale, radicchio, butter lettuce, spinach, cabbage, even sprouts! There are so many options to choose from! This is what you want to layer with first.
- Add in some color. Options can include purple onions, bell peppers (yellow, green, red), shredded carrots, broccoli, banana peppers etc. You can go crazy on this round.
- Add chewy sweetness. Craisins (dried cranberries), raisins, mango chunks, avocado pieces, dried fruit, shucks even chocolate bits (don’t judge me):D. This step will add the element that takes your crunch and fresh greens to that next level. If you’re not sure about this step just start with one option like raisins.
- Throw in dried nuts to enhance the chewy sweetness equation. Dried peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds etc. There are many fantastic nuts/seeds to choose from and in many forms—sweet, savory, a hint of salt (just watch the amount), hot or spicy…mix it up and try different forms!
- Ditch the meat and add in Beans or tofu cubes instead.While chicken, beef or fish strips are common choices for salads, remember protein comes in many fantastic plant base options. Perfect for your meat-free days and adding the energy you need to finish the rest of your day!
- Add in cooked Grains/Seeds. Quinoa, Couscous, Barley, Millet, Buckwheat, Wild Rice…I’m ALL about that grain life! And just so you know, Quinoa and Couscous aren’t technically grains but more seed like and they are perfect for filling out that salad and adding energizing satiety. These seeds absorb all the flavors of ingredients in your mix while enhancing your meal and filling you up! Quinoa with cooked chickpeas(garbanzo beans) is a personal favorite added to filling out my salad bowls.
- Dress your salad to complete and transform the layering process. For this step you do not need bottled salad dressing. Start with your basics: a drizzle of Olive Oil, apple cider or balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of lime, honey, pepper flakes, fresh basil, garlic powder (or fresh garlic bits), and any fresh herbs.You can pick whatever you like to add the zing to your zang!
Experiment with your layering process! You can add in more options, subtract what you don’t want/like, and eat more of what you do. There are so many things you can add to each step but the key is not settling. When you keep mixing your options you will find that there are many exciting ways to swap bland lettuce and tomatoes for a colorful dramatic dish bursting with robust flavors, dynamic ingredients, and interesting textures. When it comes to completing your salad, remember to stick to simple ingredients to subtly enhance flavors which will come together to add an element of elegance to your meal.
So here you have some ideas to get your salad game on the next time you’re on Fresh Market’s salad bar. And don’t forget the cold box (in between the sandwich bar and hot box) for some unique grain options!