Never Eat Boring Salad Again! 10 Ways to Spruce Up Your Greens
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Sick of ho-hum salad? Perk up your usual greens with these 10 unique salad ingredients. All will add color, texture, nutrients, and just plain interest to your bowl.
Pepitas are a fancy name for pumpkin seeds, and you can buy them raw or roasted, hulled or unhulled. Sprinkled over a salad, roasted pepitas add a nutty flavor and a pleasing crunch. They also offer up a serious dose of nutritional benefits, including loads of vitamins and minerals (zinc in particular), and a hefty serving of protein.
2. Baby Kale
Kale is America's sweetheart green these days — but are you actually eating it? Mature kale can be tough to swallow raw, which is why prepackaged baby kale should be your go-to version. It's tender, and can be tossed into salads without being chopped and de-stemmed. Bonus: It's bursting with vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. Try it with Japanese Restaurant Salad Dressing.
3. Watermelon Radishes
Beautiful, zippy watermelon radishes (named for their pale green skin and vibrant magenta interior) are CSA darlings, and a few thin slices turn any blah salad into something that's fancy-restaurant quality.
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, kohlrabi are about the size of an orange, with a bunch of stems sticking out and a thick skin that can range from pale green to purple-ish. The leaves, stems and the root are all edible, and the smaller ones tend to be more tender and flavorful. Peel it and slice, julienne or grate it into your sald for a great crunch and a fresh but slightly spicy flavor.
Escarole is a broad-leafed member of the endive family, closely related to chicory. The inner leaves tend to be much more delicate and tender than the more mature leaves, so these are the ones you want for a salad. It's slightly (but pleasantly) bitter, and a smart lettuce choice when you’re looking to bump up the nutritional level of your salads.
Talk about a sexy addition to a salad! Figs, with their slightly chewy outside and delicate seed-filled interior, add texture and sweetness to your greens. They're also a good source of calcium, fiber, and antioxidants. Simply quarter ripe figs and pair them with greens that feature slightly stronger flavors. (The sweet fig will play off the bitterness beautifully.) They're also complemented nicely by goat and blue cheeses.
7. Ricotta Salata
To add flavor and heft to salads, one of the best go-to cheese choices is ricotta salata. This Italian cheese is a pressed, salted, and dried iteration of ricotta. It's hard and starkly white and has a firm but gently crumbly texture and a salty, nutty flavor. Shave, crumble or thinly slice it into salads — especially ones that feature fresh or fried fruit, which play off the cheese's saltiness — or instead of feta in a modern Greek salad.
You can easily find frozen edamame, sometimes already shelled, in many supermarkets now. Simply cook the beans according to package directions, cool, and keep a container in the fridge to toss into salads (or pastas) as needed. Edamame are very mild in flavor, but full of protein, vitamins, calcium, folic acid, and fiber.
9. Pickled Onions
Pickled onions bring an astringent tartness to the simplest of salads, and they last for months in the fridge. (Learn how to make them here.)
10. Whole Grains
Adding cooked whole grains to a salad turns it into a much more substantial and nutritionally balanced meal. Try quinoa, cracked wheat, tabbouleh, or couscous. Cook the grains according to package directions, and you can store cooked grains in the refrigerator for several days, scooping out portions into your salads as desired.
— Katie Workman, iVillage
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20 Awesome Salads That Don't Use Leafy Greens
I don't care how health conscious you are dressed up lettuce does not excite you, at least not year-round. And when you're trying to avoid bulking season by swapping comfort foods for nutrient-rich options, your salad better freaking excite you. For this reason, we decided to compile a list of awesome salad recipes that won't ruin your body wins.
From sweet potato to caramel apple to chickpea salad, this list of no-leaves-allowed ideas will change the way you view, talk about, and chow down on salad. Enjoy!
How to Season Salad Without Dressing
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Sometimes you might want a healthier alternative to a store-bought dressing or you might not have all the ingredients on hand to make a homemade dressing. If this is the case, you’re probably wondering what you can do to spruce up your salad and make it taste good without dressing. Luckily, you probably have plenty of ingredients around your home that you can use to season your salad. Try out some different combinations to find a flavor you like and don’t be afraid to get creative! Who knows, you might decide you never need to buy or make an actual salad dressing again.
You get 294 milligrams (mg) of potassium in just three spears. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, potassium counteracts the effects of sodium by dilating blood vessels and increasing the amount of sodium excreted in your urine, thus lowering blood pressure and protecting against stroke.
Other nutrients: calcium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and lutein and zeaxanthin
Disease-fighting power: heart disease, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, and diabetes
Creative Ways to Use Tender Greens, Because Salad Fatigue Is Real
As much as we love salad, we can only eat so much before getting sick of it. Whether you received a boatload of tender lettuce in your CSA, or you're working hard to use up all of your grocery store greens before they wilt, salad fatigue is a real thing. Tender greens, like mesclun, frisée, arugula, watercress, or young lettuces aren't hardy enough to stand up to being cooked (like chard, kale, or collards). They're too delicate to be grilled, like romaine. But that doesn't mean you're stuck with salad at every meal. Back away from the balsamic vinaigrette, and try these alternative ways to eat your greens.
Sweet greens are a perfect smoothie blend-in. Photo: Peden + Munk
If you put kale in your smoothies, youɽ better believe you can add tender greens, too. In fact, greens like mesclun and soft lettuces are sweeter than kale, and combine well with fruits and herbs. Weɽ steer clear of arugula, though—it can be assertively peppery.
Salad greens can't take the heat of a braise, but they are tasty when gently wilted. Add them to still-warm simmered beans, lentils, grains, or roasted veggies, and the heat of the pot or pan will gently wilt them. To ensure that they don't become soggy or sad, stir them in just before serving. They become limp and discolored (read: brown) after a while.
Fruit salad: It's not vegetable salad! Photo: Christopher Baker
Okay, yes, it's still a salad. But when you make ripe fruit like cherries, melon, citrus, and plums the starring ingredients, a handful of greens doesn't feel so boring. When the fruit is juicy and in season, this makes healthy breakfasts and virtuous desserts basically fool-proof.
Soft-boiled or fried eggs with runny yolks are the perfect pairing for tender greens. Skip the extra step of making a vinaigrette and just set your cooked egg right over a tangle of lettuce. When broken, the yolk will coat the greens. It's not a salad so much as it is a way to soak up all that eggy goodness.
Your muscle performance will improve if you eat only salad every day
Make no mistake about it: Dark, leafy greens are super good for your body. So if you're filling up your salad bowl with them regularly, you're going to notice that your muscle performance is improving, according to certified personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Hickey. "Maybe Popeye knew what he was talking about," he quipped. "The nutrients found in spinach and other greens not only help to build strong bones, they also help to improve the performance of mitochondria — little structures inside our cells that help to produce energy, as well as inform and power our muscles." That can certainly make leg day at the gym a whole lot easier, for sure.
Additionally, if you're looking to build muscle mass, there's a wide variety of ingredients that you can include in your salads to help, including eggs, salmon, edamame, shrimp, chickpeas, tofu, almonds, cottage cheese, quinoa, and tuna, according to Healthline. That leaves a lot of room for variation, too!
33 Fresh, Colorful Spring Salads That'll Make It Easy to Eat Your Veggies
These bright, refreshing salads make the most of the season.
One of our favorite things about spring is the opportunity to add more fresh vegetables to our plates, and there's no better way to serve spring produce (like lettuce, green beans, peas and radishes) than in one of these delicious spring salads. From healthy lunch ideas to the perfect side dish for ham (start planning your Easter dinner menu now!), these spring salad recipes will convince the whole family to eat their greens.
The best part of this recipe is the vibrant vegan salad dressing loaded with slightly spicy, tangy Dijon mustard and chopped dried apricots that get soaked in acidic white wine vinegar.
Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter and more fragrant than typical lemons, and they add interest to this salad that's hearty enough for dinner.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Katherine Sacks
Alternate names/varieties: Rocket, Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola
Characteristics: Originating from the Mediterranean, this green tastes earthy and slightly tart with a bold, peppery kick. The shape of an arugula leaf is similar to oakleaf lettuce, with rounded edges that undulate from broad to slight. The edges of baby arugula aren't as defined.
How to use it: Arugula can be eaten raw, in bold-flavored salads wilted into pasta cooked into a gratin or blended into a pesto-like spread.
This recipe by Namely Marley is perfect for anyone adventurous enough to try to make their own sushi. Plus, it's another great way to indulge is your favorite dish without all the added bloating that sushi can sometimes cause (although we can probably blame that on the salty soy sauce).
I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't feel like making a meal that is going to take a long time, and with this recipe from "The Today Show," it doesn't have to. Just grab some cauliflower rice, add all of your salad favorites, and you'll be eating your new favorite healthy meal in no time!
Kitchen Sink Sunflower Salad
Courtesy of Pinch of Yum
Much like how the beloved kitchen sink cookie combines an array of yummy ingredients, this salad features almost every ingredient under the sun—and we're talking sunflowers, especially. With sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds, this pick is bursting with cholesterol-lowering fats as well as Brussels sprouts and aromatic curry and cumin. It's a true must-try to squelch all your summer cravings.