Whenever someone offers to bring a dish to a dinner that I’m hosting, I ask for a leafy salad. I can make salad easily; in fact, we have salads with our dinner almost every night. But seeing what other people put in their salads is always interesting and inspiring. And why is it salads made by someone else always taste better?!
My sister-in-law is the best salad maker. Her salads are beautiful, always. There is nothing Ho Hum about her salads! She likes to use in-season ingredients. In the spring and summer, she adds ripe and juicy tomatoes, crisp peppers, freshly shelled peas and even thinly sliced small zucchini and lots of fresh herbs. In the fall and winter she adds in beautiful fruits like pomegranates, apples and pears plus gorgeous veggies like beets, carrots and Brussels sprouts. She’ll add in dried fruits, nuts and cheese. The colors of her salads make me so happy and I know I’m eating a nutritional powerhouse.
I think we can all fall into the “same old salad” rut. Same dressing…same veggies… etc. We know that a leafy-green salad is one of the easiest ways to include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, folate, fiber, and phytonutrients. In fact, eating salad regularly helps us to fulfill our recommended daily intake of nutrients. But let’s make our nutritional salads, prettier, more fun and even tastier!
Favorite Salad Ingredients:
- Base: When using greens, go for the darkest, most colorful greens for the best nutrition. Try arugula, frisee, spinach, chard and kale. Add in romaine, Bibb, escarole, iceberg and endive for more crunch. Some of the darker greens can be a bit bitter so balance them with sweeter lettuces and other ingredients.
- Classic Add-In-Vegetables: We keep cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, carrots on hand. Not only are they great in salads but easy to pull out for healthy snacks.
- Mix-It-Up: Try shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, radishes, sliced small zucchini and yellow squash.red onion and even fresh corn off the cob for extra flavor, crunch and nutrition.
- Cooked Vegetables: My daughter loves to add roasted veggies such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, onions, beets and eggplant to her salads.
- Fruits: Dried fruits such as cranberries, mango, apricots and raisins are higher in sugar than fresh fruits, but just a little goes a long way. Fresh fruits such as apples, pears, figs, avocado, pomegranates and strawberries add sweetness and color.
- Nuts and Seeds: Walnuts, almonds (whole or slivered) pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and pine nuts can add healthy fats and protein to a salad.
- Cheese: Add more protein and flavor with cheese. Try various cheeses such as Swiss, goat, blue, ricotta, feta, burrata, Parmesan and mozzarella.
- Croutons and Crunchies: Add bulk and texture with toasted croutons, slivered toasted tortilla slices or chow mein noodles. These will increase the carbohydrate content of the dish, so maybe only include them occasionally.
- Dressings: If you make your own dressing, you can control the amount of sugars. If you use a pre-made dressing, read the label and pay attention to how many calories and carbohydrates are in each tablespoon. Salad is really good for you and a lower calorie dish if you don’t over-do the dressing. Start with half the dressing you think you need and then toss, toss, and toss, before you add more. Change up your dressing selection throughout the week. I love the ease of store-bought dressings but I also make delicious homemade dressings! Many of our DinnerTime salad recipes include directions for homemade dressings. Give it a try!
Check out how to find the best salads in your DinnerTime Recipe Box:
Type “salad” in the search box. Then type in the ingredient you want to include in your salad, such as “apple”. Voila! You will see loads of delicious and easy to make beautiful salads that include apples. Want to include apples and walnuts? Type: salad apple walnut.