Let’s face it, after a long day, having a salad for dinner may not be exactly what you’re looking forward to eating. However, with a little creativity and the ten tips below, salads will be your new go-to favorite for busy weeknights.
Don’t just stick with what you are comfortable with, play around with different types of lettuce and greens until you find one that works perfectly for your palette. You can also choose greens that pair well with the other elements in your salad. For instance, lighter greens like spinach or arugula are most commonly paired with vinaigrette dressings which are less dense and less likely to wilt the leaves compared to a heavier dressing. Heartier greens such as kale or swiss chard do well with dressings that include a good amount of acid which helps to break down their tougher leaves.
It’s true that you eat with your eyes first. By arranging all of your salad ingredients in an artful arrangement on a large platter you can visually display all of the wonderful ingredients your salad contains. If you’re serving a big salad for your family, this also allows your dinner companions to pick and choose exactly what they’ll take for their own plate.
Salads don’t only need to taste good, they should also have a good texture. Add-ons like nuts or seeds add wonderful flavor, a crunchy texture, and a boost of healthy nutrients.
Many think of salads as simply lettuce topped with dressing but by adding a combination of raw and roasted vegetables you get a delicious combination of different flavors and textures. For instance, many vegetables, especially root vegetables, tend to become sweeter when roasted which is a great contrast to more bitter greens like arugula or radicchio.
Bottled dressings are usually filled with questionable ingredients and tons of sugar. To control both the nutritional value and flavor, try making your own. Dressing can be as simple as mixing an acid, such as lemon juice, with a high-quality olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Adding whole grains like quinoa or barley provides flavor, texture and important nutrients such as fiber that might otherwise not be included in your salad. Serving a salad with whole grains can also help make it seem more substantial and suitable for dinner.
While it’s no big surprise you should be adding protein to your salads in order to keep you full, have you ever tried adding protein two ways? Take chickpeas, for instance, instead of just tossing drained chickpeas on top, why not puree half into a simple hummus and roast the others for a nice crunch in your salad.
Also, don’t forget that plant-based protein is found in many foods, not just the common sources like legumes or tofu. Adding certain seeds like hemp seeds or chia seeds can also add protein to your salad dish.
Season your greens lightly with some sea salt and pepper before tossing in other ingredients and dressing. This brings out the natural flavors of your greens which also means you won’t need as much dressing.
Especially in the cooler months when a cold salad may seem less appetizing, lightly warming your salad adds a depth of flavor and needed heat. To try this, simply heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil for every 2 cups of greens in a saute pan over low heat. Saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly wilted and warm. Remove from the heat before adding toppings and dressing.
When preparing the ingredients for your salad, try to keep the pieces bite-sized. Doing this will ensure you can easily eat the dish and allow you to get equal amounts on your fork for every bite.
For further salad inspiration, check out Well Within Beauty’s recipes here.
Kristen Link is a Certified Integrative Health Coach who helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of their personalized food and lifestyle choices to live a more sustainable, healthier, balanced, and fulfilling life. Learn more at http://wellnessbykristen.com/
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