If you feel torn between a basic blah garden salad and a dairy-doused Caesar salad, we’re here to tell you that salads don’t have to be boring and they don’t need to be drowning in dressing to taste good. With a few simple additions, you can come up with new salad combinations for every day of the week!
Whether you’re vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or new to leafy greens, salads can be healthy AND tasty — if you know the right ingredients to add. Make your salads more appealing and bring new life to your lunch and dinner with these 6 delicious and nutritious salad ingredients.
If you haven’t included grains in your salads before, you’re missing out on the soft and chewy texture they provide. Quinoa is an especially great choice for salads, since this ancient grain is a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc and provides a whopping 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving — perfect if you’re looking for vegan proteins and meat-free meals!
2. Nuts & Seeds
The science of food is fascinating. Fat enhances the flavor and taste of the food you eat, which is why you should include nuts and seeds into your salads! These ingredients are tiny but they’re bursting with goodness. Sliced almonds, pecans, and walnuts are salad superstars and provide a pleasant crunch. Chia seeds and flaxseeds feature plant-based omega-3s and are high in fiber for a nutrient-packed punch.
3. Leafy Greens
Okay, it’s a no-brainer that lettuce is the foundation of a great salad. But there’s probably more salad green options than you think! Leafy greens can be light or dark in color and include spinach, romaine, and kale. Store-bought mixes offer a variety of types, such as arugula, radicchio, cabbage, or baby greens. Boost the benefits of your salads with more flavor, color and texture by mixing it up with different salad greens.
4. Olives & Olive Oil
Olives and olive oil are staples in the Mediterranean diet, which has been voted the best diet for the last four years! Because they have pits, olives are actually a fruit, but they have a more savory than sweet profile.They’re often preserved in a brine making them quite salty. If that isn’t your thing, try extra virgin olive oil to get the goodness of olives without the salty smack. Make a light vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, honey, and lemon juice to dress your salad.
Beans are another great way to add plant-based nutrition to your salads. Black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans are protein-filled ingredients you won’t want to miss! For some major flavor inspiration, check out this Curried Chickpea Salad by Jessica in the Kitchen.
Avocados are nutrient rich and add a cool, creamy texture to salads. Whether you want a Mexican flair or a California vibe, avocados pair well with everything from prosciutto and balsamic vinegar to black beans and lime juice. A perfectly ripe avocado is hard to beat, but if you aren’t a fan of its texture, it’s perfect when puréed into a delicious dressing!
Spruce up your salads with these 6 ingredients, and you’ll be having salads for lunch, salads for dinner and maybe...salads for breakfast?? Sure, why not!
What ingredients do you love to add to your salads to make them taste great and add nourishing nutrition? Let us know in the comments below!