Healthier, tastier salads

Apr 20, 2012 at 5:00 a.m. ET

We all get into cooking ruts sometimes. And if ripping open a bag of prewashed greens and throwing it into a Tupperware container is your idea of a healthy salad for lunch, it's time to give your salads a healthy makeover.

Woman eating salad

It's great if you eat salad daily, but if you've been making the same old salad day after day because it's easy, you may be cheating yourself out of important vitamins and minerals (besides boring your palate!). Here are some ways to shake up your salad routine and make your meal or side dish more nutritious and delicious.

Experiment with different greens

If iceberg lettuce is your go-to, it's high time to pick up a few different greens. Choose by the colour of the lettuce — generally the darker it is, the more nutrients it has. Grocery stores now carry a multitude of greens: kale, arugula, chicory and romaine, to name just a few. If you can't quite let go of your tried-and-true iceberg lettuce, try mixing it with one of the darker varieties until you grow more used to their taste.

Have fun with colour

You can help ensure you're getting a nutritous punch from your salads by making them a colourful display through fruits and vegetables. Throw in carrots, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatos, corn and beets. For fruit, blueberries, blackberries, orange slices, strawberries, and chunks of peach will all add a sweet and antioxidant-rich wallop.

Try a new salad dressing

Even if you keep all the ingredients of your salad the same, a fresh, new salad dressing delicately coating your salad will make it a whole new experience. Try making your own using a healthful oil you've never tried before, such as avocado oil.

Add crunch with some nuts

Nuts will not only add healthy fats, protein and antioxidants to your salad, but the crunch will give your meal an entirely different and satisfying mouth feel. The possibilities are endless. For example, sprinkle sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds or walnuts onto your salad. Candied nuts can be a tasty, sweet touch in limited quantities.

Make sure your salad has protein

For your salad to be a well-balanced meal, you need to ensure it's got enough protein to make you feel full and keep your metabolism level. Adding beans and legumes is a fantastic and tasty way to do this, as are adding a hard-boiled egg, some tuna or cooked slices of chicken breast.

More food tips

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3 Nuts that belong in your diet

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