Salads can be designed in so many ways that we could eat a different combination each day throughout National Salad Month. Although lettuce might be the most common base, don’t forget pastas, fruits and potato salads.
The UC Davis Department of Nutrition shares ways for families to enjoy salads with these easy tips:
- Welcome creativity from everyone. Let every individual build their own salad with toppings of their choice.
- Use all different types of greens. While lettuce is a common ingredient, there are many types of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, red lettuce, and arugula. Some greens taste bitter or sharp compared to others. Try a mixture of familiar lettuce with some new, leafy greens.
- Add some crunch to your salad. Include toppings like sunflower seeds, almonds or walnuts for healthy protein.
- Choose dressings with healthy oils or make your own vinaigrette or creamy variety. Many homemade dressings can also be used as a marinade for chicken or vegetables.
Want to make the salad a whole meal? Take inspiration from restaurant menus and create your own at home. The five MyPlate food groups can be an inspiration for a large, tasty salad. The following suggestions are from Utah Extension’s Create A Salad menu. Choose an item from each category. Combine all ingredients except dressing and toppings in a large salad bowl. Either dress salad before serving or allow family members to add dressing and toppings as desired. Each salad serves four adults.
Choose one base: 4-6 cups lettuce or salad greens, 2-4 cups cooked brown rice, potatoes, whole wheat pasta or noodles, or other cooked whole grain such as quinoa or barley.
Choose one protein:
- 1 (15 oz.) can or 2 cups cooked dried beans (pinto, black, kidney, black-eyed pea)
- ½ pound cooked ground beef
- 1 ½ cups cooked and diced meat (chicken, turkey, ham, beef, fish, pork)
- 2 cups chopped hard-boiled eggs
- 1 -2 (6-8 oz) canned beef, chicken, tuna, salmon, or other fish
- 1 (12-16 oz) package extra firm tofu, drained and marinated in soy sauce and fruit juice
Vegetables! Tomato, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, squash, etc. Choose any combination of 2 cups fresh, 2 cups frozen (thawed and cooked), or 1-2 (15oz) cans of vegetables.
Fruit! (optional) Apple, orange, berries, raisins or dried cranberries, etc.
Choose one or more flavors:
- ½ – 1 cup diced onion, celery, green pepper
- ¼ cup sliced olives
- ½ cup salsa
- 2-4 Tablespoons fresh herbs or 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (oregano, basil, cumin, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Choose one dressing: (optional) Try a new recipe.
Choose a topping: (optional):
- ¼ cup slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds
- 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese