Most of us don't thrill to the idea of eating vegetables. Yes, they're good for us, and yes, we should eat more of them, but let's face it--they're not the most exciting food in the world. The nutritional merits of vegetables alone should be enough to convince us to add more of them to our meals, but when faced with a choice between a side of vegetables and something far more flavorful (and far less nutritious), most of us tend to opt out on the veggies. So how can you eat more vegetables when they just aren't your "thing"? One of the simplest ways to do so is by adding salads to your diet.
Now, we know what you're thinking--"Yeah, but salads are boring." Well, if you tend to think of salad in only one way (e.g., green lettuce plus some shredded carrots and cucumber slices), you might have a valid point, but remember: A salad is basically a combination of various ingredients, which leaves plenty of room for experimentation and discovery. There are all kinds of ingredients and preparations you can try in order to create delicious, non-boring salads, so why not explore your options? Below are five salad tips that will add more veggies to your diet and help you see this versatile food choice in a whole new way.
1. Add a protein.
Salads don't have to be an all-veggie affair; you can add a nice protein such as shredded rotisserie chicken or even grilled steak or fish in order to boost the flavor factor. For an additional touch of deliciousness, consider marinating the meat ahead of time using flavors that will complement whatever type of salad you're making. The good thing about adding a savory protein to your salad is that it gives you just enough flavor to "sneak in" more not-so-exciting veggies (e.g., cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) without making the salad seem too bland or one-dimensional.
2. Try different types of lettuce and/or greens.
The classic salad is typically comprised of iceberg lettuce, but this perennial favorite isn't the only game in town. Try other types of lettuce and/or greens such as red leaf lettuce, spinach leaves, arugula, romaine lettuce, etc., and you'll quickly discover that each one will bring an entirely different dimension of flavor and texture to the salad. Some are sweeter, some are more bitter, some are softer, etc., so it's a good idea to experiment in order to find the lettuce or greens that best agree with your taste buds. You might be surprised at which one catches your attention!
3. Ditch the lettuce altogether.
If you just don't like lettuce, you can still get plenty of veggies through eating salad. Again, a salad is nothing more than a combination of different ingredients, so feel free to get creative with the type of ingredients you choose for the base of your salad. You can try shredded carrots (which work very well with raisins), faro, quinoa, etc.; you're really only limited by your imagination.
4. Add a touch of sweetness into the mix.
Since there are only a relative handful of veggies that offer any type of sweetness (e.g., carrots, beets, etc.), your salad may need a little boost from some fruit in order to deliver a more balanced flavor profile. Adding a sprinkling of fruit such as raisins (regular or golden), grapes, strawberries, sliced apples, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pineapple chunks, etc., can really transform the flavor of your salad.
5. Dressing can make all the difference.
This is true in both the positive and negative sense. A healthy, flavorful dressing can bring an otherwise bland salad to life, but piling on a dressing that's loaded with fat and sugars can basically cancel out the nutritional value of the salad.
Try this: Instead of choosing a store-bought dressing (which may contain lots of undesirable ingredients), you can easily make your own salad dressing using natural ingredients such as olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, honey and/or fresh herbs. Not only is homemade salad dressing often less expensive than its store-bought counterparts, but it's typically healthier as well, and you'll have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what's in it.