Your Salad Toppings Cheat Sheet

Published: September 15th, 2014   |   Author: Jackie Gentilesco

Use these easy tips to build a better bowl


If your salad days sound more like ranch-on-romaine days, you’re in for a delicious update. Make salad special with these fast, easy, healthy toss-ins.

The Base
No need to stick to iceberg. Experiment with other greens and grains. Replace lettuce with brown rice, couscous, lentils, or quinoa for something hearty. Or try romaine lettuce spritzed with oil and tossed on the grill for a few minutes.

The Toppings
Fruits and Vegetables: Add as many as you’d like, and aim for a variety of colors. Try caramelized onions, pear slices, roasted sweet potatoes, or sun-dried tomatoes.

Protein: Go for lean protein. Add 3 ounces of canned salmon, grilled tofu, low-salt turkey, shredded chicken, legumes, or a hard-boiled egg. Be sparing with cheese, which tends to be high in saturated fat. To help with portion control, use one serving of mini cheese, such as Babybel or The Laughing Cow brands.

Crunch: Choose unsalted or “raw” nuts and seeds to reduce sodium intake. Air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas, toasted whole wheat bread cubes, and snap pea chips make for better-for-you croutons.

The Dressing
Many bottled dressings contain bad-for-you fats, like hydrogenated oils, as well as sneaky refined sugars. Homemade dressing is fast and healthier. To make your own, use a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid, like olive oil and vinegar or sesame oil and lime juice. Add flavor with Dijon mustard, herbs, and minced onions if you wish. To make a sweeter dressing, blend oil with honey, pureed dates, or low-sugar fruit jam.

Recipe Ideas
The Antipasto: Arugula + artichoke hearts, canned or fresh tuna or trout, white beans + olive oil and lemon juice

The Slaw: Shredded cabbage + roasted broccoli, carrots, cubed tofu, snap peas + sesame oil and orange zest

The Detoxifier: Shredded kale + avocado, black beans, cucumber, pumpkin seeds + tahini

The Wedge: Iceberg cut into wedges + apples, chives, low-salt sliced turkey + blue cheese dressing

Related Links
Recipe: Protein Power Bowl
9 Salads Worse Than a Big Mac
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