Summertime is almost here and we all know that cooking a hot meal to eat becomes not so appetizing. Salads become a staple in my house when the weather gets warm. They are so easy to make and can add a lot of nutrition to your day if done right but they can also get boring after a while! I like these ideas for keeping salads interesting!
1. When Leafy Met Scoopy
One way to make a salad more satisfying? Make it big. A way to make it REALLY big? Combine two salads into one! No, I’m not suggesting you layer a Cobb salad over a Caesar salad. I’m talking about topping a bed of chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce with a scoopable, deli-style salad. Your meal will have the creamy tastiness of the scoopy salad with the filling aspect of the leafy greens. Plus, no need for dressing! But don’t hit the deli for that scoopable salad… Those are often loaded with fat. Make your own scoopy salad with reduced-fat condiments and lean meats or seafood.
I do this at work a lot at the salad bar! Our dressing choices are not great and this trick saves me a lot of calories and fat and tastes great!
2. Turn Last Night’s Dinner into Today’s Lunch
Another great way to make a salad that’s not a snoozefest? Incorporate another meal you love! You’d be surprised at how good leftovers taste when they’re tossed into a salad. If you made meatloaf, crumble it up, and use it as the protein on your salad. Or add fajita veggies ‘n chicken to your greens. Look at you… Creative and thrifty!
You can also use your favorite recipes as inspiration. Cheeseburger salad, taco salad… I can picture ’em now! And I can really picture salads inspired by beef teriyaki and Hawaiian pizza, because I’ve made them!
I like doing this with left over fish or chicken. I also use leftover cheese and beans and really any vegetables that I didn’t end up using all up for a recipe. Works great! You never know what kind of salad you are going to get doing it this way!
3. Get Colorful
Challenge yourself to use as many colors in the produce section as possible. The more you use, the more nutritious your salad will be… and the BIGGER it will be! Another plus is that seeking out colors will lead you to NEW fruits and veggies: beets, yellow squash, purple cabbage, mandarin oranges, blueberries, pomegranate seeds… Have fun!
I need to do this more with fruit! Salad and fruit are still two different worlds for me but I think it is time that they come in together and be one! I always try to get different colored peppers and spring mix greens and tomatoes. I will also add corn and beets occasionally if I have them left over.
4. Swap Out the Dressing
Even light dressing can add a lot of calories to your salad, if you’re not careful. The serving size listed on most bottles is 2 tablespoons, but that’s a pretty small amount… especially if you like mega-sized salads like I do. That’s why I like to use fun low-calorie alternatives. Drizzle your greens with flavored vinegars: both balsamic and seasoned rice vinegars are often available in tasty fruity flavors. Another option? Salsa! So much yum, and there are tons of options on shelves: mild, spicy, Southwest… even pineapple!
I have done this with salsa and vinegar before and it tastes great! You don’t even know that you are missing the real dressing!
5. Up the CRUNCH factor!
If you can’t hear yourself eating your salad, you’re doing it wrong. Low-cal crispy add-ins will make your salad 62 percent more satisfying and fun. Plus, getting creative with your crunch will help you avoid the dreaded crouton. I LOVE broccoli cole slaw — use it as a base, or mix it with the lettuce. Other low-cal crunchies? Apples, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas. I’ve even been known to use high-fiber bran cereal as a swap for fried noodles and crushed baked tortilla chips instead of fried tortilla strips.
Great idea to add bran cereal and broccoli cole slaw! I add nuts to my salads a lot too for crunch. Apples would be good too! Back to the fruit and salad combo again!
6. Ban the Stuff You Hate, and Get Creative!
Your salad’s not the boss of you! If you avoid salads because you hate spinach, replace it with chopped romaine. If you can’t bring yourself to hop on the kale bandwagon, don’t add kale. Nobody’s making you! Do you think that house-salad staples, like tomatoes and shredded carrots, are played out? Try something new! Toss in some roasted Brussels sprouts, steamed bok choy, or freeze-dried edamame.
Totally agree! If you don’t like something, you don’t have to eat it. Try something else!