5 steps to build a better salad

Hands holding a colorful bowl of salad

Make your next salad nutritious, delicious and filling!

When you decide to make a salad for dinner or to pack for lunch at work, sometimes it can be hard to find the inspiration to make it a filling and delicious meal. Follow the steps below to make your salad a meal worth looking forward to and packed with nutrient-dense foods!

1. Build your base. Start with leafy greens: From iceberg to bagged mixes – they all count! Use a mix for varied texture and flavor. For example, romaine or iceberg have more crunch, while spinach and arugula bring different flavors.

2. Load on the veggies and fruit. For veggies, think raw, roasted, canned, grilled, pickled or even options like pico de gallo! Some tasty veggie options include cucumbers, snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, celery, roasted beets, corn kernels, onions, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, grilled zucchini, radishes, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, jicama and fennel.  For fruits think raw, canned, or dried with options like apples, fresh berries, raisins, cranberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds and grapes.

3. Power up with protein. Turn your salad from a side dish to an entrée with lean meat like strips of steak, grilled chicken, cheese (mozzarella, feta, blue cheeses and cheddar all make great additions), tofu, beans like black beans or chickpeas, edamame, seafood (canned tuna, baked salmon) or hard-boiled eggs.

4. Add some extras for more crunch and flavor. Croutons, toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts) or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) or whole grain tortilla chips add an extra crunch to your salad! Scallions or herbs like dill, basil, mint, cilantro or parsley pump up the flavor, as do ingredients like olives, avocado or hot peppers (banana peppers, pepperoncini, pickled jalapenos). Make your salad extra hearty by adding whole grains like quinoa, barley, farro or rice.

5. Dress it! Try a simple vinaigrette with 2-3 parts oil (vegetable oil, olive oil, avocado oil or whatever your favorite liquid oil is) to 1 part acid such as vinegar (apple cider vinegar, red or white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar or other flavored vinegar) or citrus (lemon, lime or orange juice). Other options to add to your dressing include yogurt, Dijon mustard, maple syrup or honey, minced garlic and fresh or dried herbs.

*Food safety reminder: Be sure to wash all your produce thoroughly before using!

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