of us actually eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, which makes a
well-constructed salad the perfect disguise for getting our daily requirement
of greens… and yellows… and perhaps even some reds and blues. And while salads
can be packed with nutrition, they can also be really easy to toss together for
a quick meal-on-the-go. Here are four simple steps to creating a satisfying
salad you can be proud of.
Pick Your Salad Veggies
salads start with a lettuce base—get creative! Go beyond iceberg and try some
different varieties. Romaine lettuce is a great alternative, or add a little
color with red leaf Romaine, and don’t forget spinach, kale, and different
chards, which are jam packed with immunity-boosting vitamin A. From there, the
sky’s the limit—toss in chopped bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms,
chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, cucumbers, avocado and sprouts. Try to fill
your creation with all the colors of the rainbow.
Bagged, chopped, and pre-washed salad greens can save time, but not without its costs. While pre-packaged lettuce is labeled, “Ready-to-Eat,” it’s still smart to take a few minutes to wash and dry the lettuce to rid it of any bad bacteria that may have developed during processing. Or, save money by buying whole heads of lettuce, invest a few dollars in a salad spinner (I got mine at Wal-Mart for less than $5.oo) and get the kids involved. Once you’ve washed the greens, hand them over to your helpers for spinning and tearing. This keeps them busy while you prepare other ingredients for the salad, and gives them a vested interest in eating the veggies of their labor. You can also pre-wash lettuce to store in the fridge in ziplock bags for later use.
Pile on the Protein
Bring on the meat. This is YOUR salad—make it what you want. Yes,
grilled chicken is the salad staple, but there’s nothing wrong with slicing up
last night’s leftover grilled steak instead. Other protein pairings include
diced ham, canned tuna, cooked bacon or shrimp and even garbanzo beans and
boiled eggs. Make sure meats have cooled completely before adding them to a
salad to keep lettuce from wilting. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts
add some crunch and flavor, but also contribute a lot fat.
Grab Some Garnish
cheese and nuts, or go for the gusto by adding chow mein noodles or fried
onions. The crunchier the better! But stay away from the fried options if you’re looking to cut calories.
Dress it Up
expanding your salad repertoire, so what better time to break out of the
dressing rut as well. Ranch is, by far, one of America’s greatest contributions
to the condiment aisle, but don’t overlook the joys of trying out different
varieties. Try to stay away from the creamy dressings, like Ranch, Thousand Island, and Blu Cheese. If you’re interested in trying out a new salad dressing, buy the
smallest bottle at first. If you don’t like it, pass it on to a buddy—chances
are, he’s looking to break out of his usual salad routine as well!
sodium taco seasoning
beans (drained and rinsed)
lettuce (or 4 cups of chopped salad greens)
chopped onions if you would like), then add taco seasoning and simmer according
the package directions. In a large bowl,
combine the meat with kidney beans (drained and rinsed), crushed tortilla chips
and lettuce. If you’d like, add and some shredded cheese and/or a dollop of fat
free sour cream to each serving. Avocados are also a great addition to this
plate, top with the meat and bean mixture, and add a layer of shredded cheese
for kid-friendly nachos.
kidney beans in an airtight container and refrigerate until you’re ready to
nuts and fruit in a bowl. Just prior to serving, add dressing and toss.
grilled chicken or cooked ham, or make it vegetarian with garbanzo beans.
Cat “Garden” Salad
(an Italian mix, maybe?)
sliced into rings
unseasoned, fat free croutons
cheese (or Parmesan)
onion and tomatoes. Just prior to serving, add olives, croutons and cheese,
then toss with dressing.
steak, chicken or crisped bacon