What’s in a tasty and nutritious salad? Plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits, a healthy fat, a helping of lean animal and/or plant protein plus a simple vinaigrette. Read on to see what the basic building blocks comprise for when you next hit the salad bar.
1. Start with a Good Foundation
This means 2 cups of greens that you can build your salad on. Greens can include arugula, bok choy, frisee, kale, lettuce, mesclun, radicchio, romaine, spinach and more. The darker the color the better in terms of the nutrients — and flavor — that you’ll be getting out of the salad.
2. Pick a Protein
If you’re going to include an animal protein, then limit it to about 4 ounces (which translates to a deck of cards size-wise). Proteins can be anything from chicken breast, fish, turkey or shrimp to a hard-boiled egg or lean beef.
Otherwise, you can go for a 1/2 cup or more of plant protein. This can include beans (pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black, etc.), lentils, legumes or tofu.
3. Add Crunch and Color
Toss in liberal amounts of veggies, ones with a wide range of colors and textures. Some goodies include tomatoes, snap peas, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, carrots, onions, radish, and sprouts.
4. Consider Something Tart or Sweet
Fruits can liven up a salad with their natural sweetness or tart flavors. Try out a half a cup of any of the following: apples, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, golden raisins, kiwi, melon, oranges, peaches, pears, strawberries and tart cherries.
5. Throw in Some Healthy Fats for a Satiating Mouthfeel
Adding an ounce of healthy fat will not only provide you with a satisfying mouthfeel, but it will also help keep you feeling full longer. Try adding avocado, nuts (like almonds or walnuts), olives or seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin) to your salad.
6. Dress it Up
Make a simple dressing with olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard and your favorite herbs and spices. Just 2 ounces drizzled on your salad should help jazz up your meal.