We all know leafy greens are good for you: They’re chock-full of antioxidants and vitamins. But it can be easy to pass over a boring garden salad with the same four ingredients – cucumbers, chopped carrots, tomatoes and peppers – and reach for a more interesting, flavorful dish. There are a few quick, easy ways you can dress up your salad and make it the star of your lunch again. Check out these options to spice up your salads:
Whipping up a quick vinaigrette at home can save you money and calories. This mustard vinaigrette from food blogger Cookie+Kate uses kitchen staples like mustard, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. You can make it as sweet or tangy as you want – just be sure to keep it separate from your salad to avoid a soggy end result.
Borrow this tip from the uber-popular Smitten Kitchen blog: Roast your favorite vegetables and legumes, like chickpeas, to add a smoky flavor and crispy texture to your salad. She recommended tossing chickpeas in olive oil and cumin, then baking them for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You could also try cauliflower florets or diced sweet potatoes for an added boost of fiber.
Get rid of the lettuce
This advice sounds counter intuitive – but the results will be delicious. Instead of using iceberg or romaine lettuce as the base for your salad, make a shredded brussel sprout salad with slivered almonds, cranberries and roasted chicken for an extra dose of protein. Slice fresh brussel sprouts with a knife and toss together with warm roasted chicken. The cranberries will add a bit of sweetness and the combo will leave you feeling satisfied.
Nothing beats fresh, local raspberries or blueberries on a salad. Stop by your farmer’s market to see what’s in season and build a salad around those ingredients. Fruits that are naturally ripe will add a sweet note to your salads without causing your blood sugar to spike. Grate some locally made cheese on top to add a savory note to your final product. You’ll also have the added benefit of supporting local businesses.
Salads have earned a bad rap for individuals looking to eat healthy. Try these salad additions to keep your lunches interesting while also getting important nutrients. Dig in!