Ask anyone about their least favorite food, and chances are they’ll reply with some sort of veggie. And what do you call a bowl full of veggies (i.e. least favorite foods)? Salad. Salad too often gets a bad rap. People say it’s not filling. It’s boring. It’s rabbit food. Think, too, about what’s not said about salad. “Ugh, I ate too much salad,” “That salad made me feel bloated,” “I think I’m in a salad coma.”
I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be this way! Big bowls of fresh, colorful, crisp nutrition powerhouses have been undersold for too long. Let’s start giving them the credit they deserve.
How to make salad less boring
Nacho average salad
Does a bowl of chips equal nachos? No, it’s just a bowl of chips. The same concept applies to salad. Think beyond a bowl of plain lettuce. It’s what goes on top that defines the dish. Load up your salad with a mix of protein, colorful veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dressing containing healthy fat (like avocado oil dressing).
Here’s an idea: why not make a nacho salad? Layer fresh lettuce, crumbled whole grain tortilla chips, black olives, cheese, jalapeños, tomato, black beans, onion, cilantro and avocado. It’s a flavor fiesta!
Don’t melt down during a stressful day – let your lunch do it for you! Have you tried frozen dressing? Simply purée frozen fruit, fresh herbs and a bit of a healthy oil, then freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray. When it’s just about time to chill (err, eat lunch), set two or three cubes on top of your salad and enjoy the perfect amount of slow release dressing throughout your meal. This also lets you slow down while you’re eating so you really enjoy your dining experience.
Having a get-together? Wow your guests with a stunning salad centerpiece. Instead of using a traditional bowl, serve your salad in a large, wide-mouth vase. Select ingredients with eye-popping color (radishes, carrots, strawberries, yellow bell peppers and purple cabbage work great). Layer everything parfait-style, first adding crisp greens, followed by a splash of rainbow veggies, then a pop of protein (such as a mix of nuts and seeds). Repeat until the vase is full for a dish that does double duty by acting as a décor and nourishment.
Tomatoes, croutons and an oil and vinegar dressing are nice. But start thinking outside the usual salad bowl! It’s not only OK – it’s great – to combine carbs and salad. Experiment with whole grains like freekeh, chickpea pasta, quinoa and even a sprinkle of uncooked oats. Go for proteins outside of the norm. Think tempeh, lentils, chopped seitan, cottage cheese and hemp seeds. Also use non-traditional produce like kohlrabi, romanesco, beets and persimmons. Weird salads for the win!