As I was putting lunch together and drooling over the new salad ingredients I was experimenting with today, it hit me that not everybody does this.
Do you actually get excited about eating and/or preparing a salad?
I do, and am pretty confident in saying I don’t think I have ever made the same one twice.
Salads have always been more than just a “diet food” for me. I make the majority of mine a filling meal and I choose to label them monster salads because of their size and slew of ingredients.
There isn’t a specific art to making salads that are crave-worthy. Generally, I use the produce and ingredients I have on hand and get creative with what I have available.
Here are a handful of my tricks to keep your plates colorful and appealing!
• Think outside of the fridge.
I start almost all of my salads with a romaine lettuce or spinach as a base, then pull whatever vegetables that make sense out of my produce drawer and start chopping. But I don’t stop there.
Today I made the same base of the salad I did yesterday, but left off the eggs and added a can of rinsed and drained Southwest beans instead.
I always stock up on cans of beans (black, navy, chili, garbanzo) and they will show up on my salads more than anywhere else.
Occasionally, I will add corn, peas, and edamame too.
Grab almonds and seeds for an extra crunch!
• Get fruity.
Some of my favorite salads include fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, and oranges.
Throw in some kind of cheese and protein and you have a well-balanced meal representing the majority of the food pyramid!
• Occasionally substitute your need for dressings.
Every once in a while, I will skip the dressing and use something else like salsa or hummus in it’s place.
Freshly squeezed citrus like limes and lemons taste great and refreshing too!
• Don’t be afraid to add healthy carbs.
Whenever I get tired of the standard “load my plate with vegetables” types of salads, I cook some kind of carb like whole wheat penne noodles or quinoa and sprinkle a generous serving on top.
Hot or cold, I love adding pastas, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash to salads when I am looking for something different.
• Get creative with protein.
When I am really hungry or want more of a filling salad, I make sure to load it with plenty of protein.
I often top my salads with deli turkey, rotisserie chicken, or crumbled veggie and black bean burgers. If you aren’t a fan of those, go for nuts, beans and hardboiled eggs!
• Say cheese!
Unless I am on some kind of strict (temporary) diet, I always add cheese to my salads. And it’s hardly ever the same kind of cheese.
I most frequently use feta because that has become a favorite, but I will also grab shredded cheddar on Southwest or taco salads, blue cheese with fruit salads, and experiment with slicing others like Parmesan, American, or Havarti.
• What are some of your favorite salad ingredients?
• What are some of your strangest salad ingredients?
My go-to ingredients (that show up on almost every one) are black and green olives, red and green peppers, some type of bean, tomatoes and cucumbers! Every now and then I add banana peppers, turkey bacon, pickles, corn, and peas. The strangest ingredient I have ever thrown on a salad is probably a quinoa burger? I really don’t know!