Making your salad a bit more exiting!

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Eating salads every day could get a bit boring sometimes, but if you take a few minutes you can make them a little more exiting and appealing πŸ™‚ I try to do this bcs it just great to get full of good healthy things and just move on with the rest of my day feeling satisfied.
I think the key it’s to add each food group and put tons of veggies to get that “I’m full” feeling after wards. Here are some tips to take your salad to the next level πŸ™‚

With summer being in full swing, lighter meals like salads are at the top of the healthy meal choice list. Unfortunately, typical salad buffet toppers like creamy dressing, bacon bits, croutons and macaroni salad can turn your bowl of green goodness into a calorie fest. However, that doesn’t mean you should be left with just a bed of leaf lettuce either. There is a better way to make a salad that doesn’t involve heavy, calorie-filled dressings, and the same boring ingredients. The best salads combine flavor and lots of good-for-you ingredients without being over the top in calories.

Here are six steps to building a better salad. Plus, as a bonus, read to the end for some easy-to-follow salad bowls that pull it all together!

Step 1: Start with a leafy base
Just because you are eating salad doesn’t mean you are limited to boring iceberg lettuce! In fact, this lettuce doesn’t offer much more than water. Good options are romaine, leaf lettuce, spinach, mixed greens, arugula, frisee, mache, endive, radicchio, baby beet greens, butterhead lettuce or kale.

Step 2: Add a complex carb
You don’t have to limit yourself to just greens in your salad base. Try adding a complex carbohydrate to your greens for extra energy and fiber. Good options are cooked grains such as quinoa or couscous, or even whole-wheat pasta, soba or the low-carb Shirataki noodle. Starchy vegetables can also be a good option, such as cooked and diced potato or sweet potato. Keep calories in check by opting for smaller serving sizes of about 1/2 cup.

Step 3: Add some colorful veggies and fruit
Load up on colorful vegetables, such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, red or green onion, cucumber, etc
Fruit can also be a good option; strawberries and blueberries can add sweetness, while green apple slices can add tartness. And if fresh fruit isn’t your fancy, opt for a teaspoon or two of your favorite dried fruit such as naturally sweetened, dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins.

Step 4: Pick a protein
Adding protein takes your salad from an appetizer to the main course. Plus, protein provides your muscles what they need to stay lean and tight! Not to mention, protein offers up a satiating effect, reducing hunger between meals. Chicken is an obvious choice, but it’s not the only one. Try grilled steak, eggs, canned or fresh fish such as salmon or tuna. Vegetarian protein options are black beans, garbanzo beans, chick peas or marinated cooked tofu!

Step 5: Choose a flavor
You don’t have to opt for the same boring salad dressing every time you have salad. There are other options other than fat-free Italian! The dressing can completely change the flavor on a salad. Whenever possible try to make your own. All you need is a shaker bottle, a few tablespoons of good-for-you monounsaturated oil, vinegar or citrus juice and some herbs, and you are good to go! Olive oil can be a great base for Mediterranean-style dressings, while sesame oil can provide an option for an Asian style dressing. Add in fresh or dried herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro or tarragon. You can add some zest by using lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime juice or a specific flavor of vinegar such as balsamic.

Step 6: Finish it off with something soft or crunchy
Nuts and seeds are a great way to finish off an amazing salad, and are a great alternative to traditional croutons! There are many options when it comes to nuts such as pecans, walnuts, peanuts, almonds or even pine nuts. Nuts can be eaten raw and natural or can be toasted for a slightly different flavor. As for seeds, opt for poppy, pumpkin, sesame or sunflower. Nuts and seeds are full of good-for-you fats, and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Just watch the portion sizes. A single ounce of almonds provides 164 Kcal and 14 grams of fat.

But if you are not a nut or seed fan, there are always softer options such as cheese, avocado or even cooked artichoke hearts! Soft cheeses such as feta or blue cheese can add saltiness, plus protein and calcium. But again these are not calorie free, so use sparingly and opt for lower fat varieties.

Tips by Lauren Jacobsen

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