Salads are the logical choice for health-conscious eaters. They’re loaded with wholesome, nutritious ingredients, and best of all they don’t rely on carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or pasta to “make the meal.”
What’s more, you can throw any old thing in them — the latin root of the word salad is “sal”, literally translated as “salt.” From this, I take it to mean that a salad is anything you’d want to add salt to…which means your options are almost limitless. Raw or cooked vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, cheese, fruit, oils, vinegars…you name it, the humble salad will embrace it with open arms.
But while the salad is limited only by our imaginations, our imaginations aren’t always up to the task of thinking up a range of different ingredients, especially if salads are a common occurrence in your diet. As such, if you’re not careful, eating salads can quickly lose it’s appeal and become a chore — something you do to fill your stomach and get a few nutrients in the process.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve come up with four ways you can jazz up your salad, making it more appealing to your tastebuds, more exciting to your stomach and even a whole lot more nutritious. Read on to find out more.
1. Play around with the green stuff
Most people would agree that leaves are a vital component of most salads. For starters, they look healthy, and if you’re big on visual appeal, you probably want your salad to look as healthy as possible. Next, they’re loaded with nutrients, many of which you can’t find in any other vegetables (turns out your mom’s strict instructions to “eat your greens” were on to something).
But one of the biggest mistakes people make is to always stick to plain old lettuce. Now, more than ever before, there’s a myriad of options out there for choosing your salad greens – including arugula (my personal favorite, especially for it’s strong peppery taste and firm texture), savoy cabbage, baby spinach, butterhead lettuce, endive, kale and mesclun.
Play around with textures and flavors, using butterhead lettuce for softer applications and things like finely chopped kale or cabbage for a more zesty, crunchy salad. Just make sure you choose organic leaves, as most greens which aren’t organic come thoroughly doused in pesticides and chemical sprays.
2. Get creative with your dressing
The sky’s the limit when it comes to dressings, so don’t hold back on account of what you’ve seen other people do, or what you observed your mother putting on salads every night at the dinner table. Also, ditch the store-bought dressings — they’re usually loaded with nasty ingredients, and they’re usually pretty darn boring!
At the start of the week, spend five minutes putting together two or three different dressings for the coming week of lunchtime or dinner time salads. In our house, the only things determining the type of dressing we make are based on which oils/fats and vinegars we have available. Oils could include olive, avocado, ghee, sesame, almond or walnut, while vinegars we like to use include apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar.
It’s important to note that many of the vitamins contained in salad ingredients are fat soluble, meaning you need to eat them alongside a fat for your body to extract the nutrients from them. For this reason, don’t hold back on the oils!
3. Throw in some tasty tidbits
In my opinion, every salad needs to have a few little treaties hidden away inside those healthy green folds — then it becomes a nutritional treasure hunt! Things like roasted nuts are always a hit (or even honey roasted, for the ultimate indulgence!), while delicious rough-chopped chunks of fruit like strawberries, raspberries, apples or oranges can add a healthy zest to your salad while dramatically improving its nutritional profile. Finally, if you can’t abide a salad without your beloved croutons, here’s a much tastier, healthier alternative!
4. Throw in some warm bits
Salads are all about contrasting tastes, textures and aromas, so why not add some extra excitement to the mix by warming up some of your salad ingredients? Go-to warm ingredients include protein-rich sources like chicken or beef, but there’s nothing stopping you from throwing in warm crispy potato chunks, warm cauliflower bits, and even some of those honey roasted nut we mentioned earlier, straight from the oven to the salad.
Oh man, I’m beginning to drool. I think I need to go and make a salad….
— Liivi Hess
That’s some of the things which will make your salads better, now here’s 6 things which will make your salad worse.