I am a salad lover. It’s the first thing I look for on the menu when I’m out to dinner. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not boring! Salads are just that amazing, really!
I’m not talking about iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots. I’m talking about a fresh variety of greens and seriously delicious, healthy ingredients tossed in. The kind where different tastes come together to awaken your taste buds and turn you into a vegetarian.
Intrigued? Read on for our tips on how you can make the best salads at home.
6 Tips to Make Deliciously Vibrant Salads at Home:
When it comes to creating a tasty, healthy salad at home you have to get creative. You have to add a variety of ingredients to create different tastes, and you MUST be open minded. Follow these tips to create your own restaurant-quality salad at home.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment With a New Base
First things first, what are we starting with? Iceberg is old news and doesn’t come with a lot of nutrients, so let’s think tasty, leafy greens. Put together a mix of different flavors by tossing spinach and kale, and then add in spicy arugula!
The possibilities are endless: romaine, butter-crunch, escarole, green or red lettuce leaf or maybe even cooked swiss chard. Head to the produce aisle at the grocery store and check out the selection of seasonal greens! When possible be sure to choose organic!
When choosing your base (and any other ingredients for that matter) pick a few, three at most. When you get too excited and add everything you can find, it becomes confusing to your taste buds! With just a few ingredients from each category you can be sure to taste each unique flavor.
Learn more about the nutritional value of the greens you’re choosing. Read: How Healthy Are Your Favorite Leafy Greens? (We Break It Down)
2. Cook Your Veggies
A salad needs veggies. Duh! But this doesn’t have to be the boring part. Something as simple as cooking your vegetables and adding vibrant colors and fun flavors can boost your salad satiation. Look for different colors from the rainbow: cooked red and yellow peppers, carrots, sliced beets.
Toss cubed sweet potatoes or fingerling potatoes into the oven and roast them for a sweet and warm addition to your healthy salad.
3. Sweeten Your Salad With Fruit
Ever add fruit to your salad? It’s a healthy way to sweeten it up a little bit. My faves are chunks of red apple (especially in kale salads, yum!), mandarin slices or pear.
Dried fruit is a great option too, although it should be used sparingly because of the super high sugar content. One of the best dried fruits to add are cranberries.
Let’s not forget about the most important fruit you can add: avocado. Yes, avocado is a fruit! Vibrant green and full of healthy fat, this creamy fruit is a wonderful addition to any salad at home.
4. Play With Plant-Based Protein
As a vegetarian, all of my protein sources are plant based. But this doesn’t mean I am limited – quite the opposite! Plant based protein options rock and they kick my salads at home up a notch.
If you’re a vegetarian or trying to cut back on meat, try these tasty options: quinoa, baked tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, black beans (or any kind of bean!) or roasted nuts like cashews or pine nuts.
The kind of healthy salad where different tastes come together to awaken your taste buds.
Cheese is another good option here, too. If you’re steering clear of dairy though, check out non-dairy options like Follow Your Heart or Violife. Follow Your Heart has an AMAZING vegan feta crumbles I love to use in kale salads.
Hemp hearts are another great salad ingredient option to sprinkle on for an easy protein source.
Want to learn more about why dairy isn’t the best diet choice? Read: The Scary Truth About Cheese: 4 Reasons to Stop Eating It Right Now
5. Take a Toppings Tour
Now we get to the best part. I LOVE salad toppings. It’s the most exciting part of the salad! You really can’t go wrong with this one. Add anything that sounds tasty to you! Sesame sticks, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, croutons, chia seeds, hemp hearts or nuts (cashews, pine nuts, pecans, etc.).
Seek out a crunch, which also leads to our next point. . .
6. Catch a Crunch
Texture matters BIG TIME in separating the boring salads from the fun and fulfilling salad at home! Whether it’s varying textures in crunch vs. crisp, warm and cold, savory and sweet flavors – all of these aspects add the flair that you’re looking for.
Consider adding different textures (think crunchy cucumber and crisp apple slices) with complimentary flavor profiles plus warm and cold elements for a vibrant salad experience.
7. Try These Easy DIY Dressing Recipes
Last, but certainly not least! When it comes to dressings there are a few store bought ones I enjoy, including vegan Caesar dressing by Follow Your Heart. But usually I tend to prefer very simple at home dressings.
You don’t need to be a chef to come up with a tasty dressing. With just a few simple ingredients you can whip up something delish in no time! Below are my two faves, so be sure to try them out!
3-2-1 Dressing: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup.
Simple Lemon Dressing: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkle of salt.
Next time you find yourself wondering what to make for dinner, don’t rule out salads because of their bad reputation. Boring salads are a thing of the past! Get in the kitchen and see what you can mix together to make a delightful and delicious salad at home using the tips and suggestions above.
Did any of these ideas resonate with you? Or better yet, what are your favorite salad ingredients for the best healthy salads at home? Please share with us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!