As the weather continues to get warmer, cool down the menu with salads! Whether you shop for pre-made creations or make your own, here are five ways to make those salads sing as we move into summer from spring.
Score some new dressing ideas. Salads are fun to make, and they can be different every time depending on the veggies and other food groups you blend in your bowl. Keep all that goodness going down to the dressing choice. Think outside the bottle and make your own. From blending a bottled, premade dressing with a bit more vinegar for a tangier touch, to making your own from scratch, to using salsa instead, the sky’s the limit. Experiment with different vinegars and spices to make your own signature blend. Deeper greens pair well with fruity flavors, and milder veggies can take a bold step with stronger flavors like balsamic. There is really no one right answer to how you dress up your salad for every day and special meals, too. Remember, even a higher fat and calorie dressing can be included in a balanced menu by paying attention to portions and other food choices throughout the day.
Use your noodle. Pasta salads can be just as fun and interesting as all veggie versions. Pay attention to noodle shape, fiber, and portions, then toss in cooked protein of choice from chicken to steak to pork to fish to beans and/or cheese. Veggies are a perfect companion for crunch and nutrition, but don’t be afraid to toss in some fruit, too! Think about lemon or lime for an easy way to add tartness, or go for sliced berries, stone fruit like peaches and plums, or apples, depending on what you have in the house.
Try your favorite dinner on a bed of greens. Almost any meal we think of as a typical dinner can be paired with greens. From grilling romaine to adding arugula to pizza, it’s actually more common than you might think to pair warm and cold foods. To try this out in baby steps, add salad to the dinner plate or to go “all in”, layer spinach or lettuce on your plate and simply serve the meal over the top, or find a recipe that includes your favorite greens.
Sweeten the deal. Fruit and veggies are great companions in a salad bowl. Whether canned, fresh, dried, frozen, or 100% juice, there are nutritious, colorful and budget friendly options to add to the salad fun. Homemade dressings made with fruit juice, or simply sliced, tossed, or grilled first, fruit adds a nutrition boost in and of itself and by helping other nutrients get a boost, too. For example, iron (spinach has it!) paired with vitamin C (so many foods have it, like strawberries or citrus) are great companions for both flavor and nutrition.
Serve salad for breakfast. Why not? Starting your day with a mix of nutritious, bright, and crunchy food groups is a great way to help ensure you are getting the nutrition you need for the day. It’s also an easy meal to get together fast. Chop up favorite foods ahead of time so the night before or the morning of, you can easily grab, toss, and go. Pack dressing separately to keep things from getting soggy if you plan to eat it later, or if you mix salad the night before you plan to eat it.