We’ve all had a sad salad, with large pieces of wilted romaine and nowhere near enough dressing, that we only ate “because it’s healthy.” Salads get a bad rap for being the boring side dish to a much more exciting meal, but what if you could look forward to a salad? Here are five ways to make eating salads less of a chore.
1. Make Your Own Dressing
The dressing can either make or break your salad, so do yourself a favor and make your own dressings. It allows for way more customization than the store-bought kinds and it’s almost never going to take you more than two minutes to pour, sprinkle, crank, and shake your own delicious concoction.
Want to use up the scrapings in a jam jar for a fruity vinaigrette? Switch out the sour cream with yogurt for a ranch? Make your Caesar salad dressing with vegan mayo? You’ll know exactly what goes in it, be able to control the salt content, and have the flexibility to use high quality ingredients to take a normal dressing up a notch. Watch this clip to learn more about the ratios to create basically every dressing imaginable, because who doesn’t need a ranch recipe in their life?
2. Mind Your Textures
Crunchy. Chewy. Crumbly. Burst-y. Sometimes what you need in a salad is a new texture to break up the monotony of fibrous leaves. Eating something with a lot of different textures can make the eating experience much less boring, so feel free to throw some nuts, dried cranberries, feta, and cherry tomatoes in that salad.
3. Roast and Toast
If you’ve never had a salad where at least one component is cooked, you’re missing out. Cooked kale, carrots, and roasted tomatoes can all take your salads to another level nutrient-wise because their carotenoids are more bioavailable after cooking… not to mention that roasted Brussels sprouts taste so much better when their sugars have caramelized and the outside gets crispy. Of course, some nutrients do get lost after cooking, but that’s not an issue if you balance having a variety of cooked vegetables with a variety of raw vegetables.
4. Chop it Down
If the only thing you can get on your fork is one piece of lettuce, you’re not cutting your ingredients small enough. When chopping your veggies, keep the shape and size of your main component in mind; this means that if your salad is mostly shredded lettuce, cut your bell peppers and carrots into long and thin matchsticks. If your major flavor component is dried cranberries, dice your cucumbers as close to that size as possible.
A good rule of thumb is aiming for dime-sized pieces. This way, your smaller add-ins have a chance making it onto your fork for a more cohesive bite.
5. Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Meal
What sounds better: spring mix with vinaigrette or chicken shawarma salad? As a shawarma fan, the second option sounds much more enticing than the first— which is still good, but a little predictable. Turning your favorite meal into a salad is the best way to get your creative juices flowing when putting a salad together.
To go with the shawarma example, I’m picturing pita croutons, grilled chicken with cumin and sumac, crunchy potatoes, diced pickles, and a creamy garlic aioli dressing all on a bed of shredded romaine with parsley leaves sprinkled about. The main point here is for you to get creative!
Salads can be a fantastic way to eat your greens, and they can do that without being boring.
Written by: Deemah Majali, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern