20 Healthy Ways To Make Salads More Exciting


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Written by: Suzanne Kvilhaug

I’m a firm believer that you should be excited about every meal you eat. And the thought of salads probably doesn’t make most people jump for joy. I guess you can’t blame them. Lettuce, cucumbers, a few tomatoes and croutons if you’re lucky, are what most traditional salads consist of. Yeah, that’s definitely BORINNNG! People associate salads with too little, too blah and after the last bite, I’ll still be too hungry.

Here are 20 healthy ways to make salads exciting so you can look forward to eating them rather than planning what you’ll eat right after.

1. Switch up the greens

Greens may all look similar but they definitely don’t taste it. Arugula, dandelion greens, green leaf lettuce, and butterhead lettuce are great options to rotate so you never get tired of the same base.

2. Baked sweet potatoes

If you like salads but want to load up on carbs, add baked sweet potatoes in. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of fiber, potassium and vitamin A. As for dressing, Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette goes great on salads with sweet potatoes.

3. Red cabbage

Whenever red cabbage is in a salad, I can’t help but take out my phone and be that person taking pictures of what I’m eating. Can someone tell me how to make pictures look as good as food photographers do? My exquisite beautiful meals look anything but. Anyway, red cabbage is so pretty and just by looking at it you’ll feel more satisfied.

4. Lentils

The most underrated addition to anything, lentils. Lentils are hearty, delicious, and have a high nutritional value. If you’re super active or need to eat more protein, they are a no-brainer. Plus there are several different varieties of lentils so you’ll never get bored with them.

5. Zucchini noodles

Now that most grocery stores carry zucchini noodles that are ready to go, this healthy option is easier than ever. They are a great pasta substitute, low in calories and have a good nutritional profile. Need an idea on how to use them? Try this Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad.

6. Red pepper flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes are made up of a combination of red chili pepper types. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes add a hint of smokiness yet don’t overwhelm salads with spiciness.

7. Hummus

I had beet hummus in my salad recently and what a difference it made. With so many varieties of hummus available, you are bound to find one you like.

8. Rice

The other day I was ordering a salad but felt like it wasn’t going to be enough so at the last minute It dawned on me to add rice. Jackpot, hit the spot! Black rice, wild rice and basmati rice are three healthy and tasty additions for any salad.

9. Beans

It’s easy to forget that beans add a lot to any meal, especially salads. Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans all work well and will keep you full till your next meal.

10. Seeds

If getting more nutrients in your meals is a goal, adding seeds to salads is a good way to do it. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds are all great options.

11. Mangoes

To me, mangoes are a necessary addition to just about anything. I have them available at all times to put into salads, rice bowls, stir fry and whatever else I’m making. I even put them on a vegan pizza recently and yeah mango pizza, don’t knock it until you try it!  

12. Rotate different herbs  

Herbs can be a little intimidating if you haven’t used them but you quickly learn once you start. Fresh herbs are a creative and healthy way to add flavor to salads. Basil, tarragon, cilantro, dill, and parsley work great for a variety of different salad recipes.

13. Avocados

Now avocados are becoming a staple in salads so if you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon, it’s time. Avocados add flavor, a ton of nutrients and without them, something feels missing. Looking for even more flavor? Make homemade guacamole and add that to a salad.

14. Chutney

Chutney wasn’t always on my radar but now that it is, I’ll add it to salads when the mood calls for it. Chutney is made from fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs with vinegar, sugar, and spices. If you don’t love dressing but want more flavor, experiment with different flavors of chutney.

15. Mushrooms

For vegans and mainly plant-based eaters, if you like mushrooms, they can be your saving grace to a lot of recipes. Grilled portabello mushrooms are easy to cook, healthy and turn a salad into a fulfilling meal.

16. Radishes

Add vibrant color, a little fancy touch and a surprising, peppery, spicy crunch to your salad with radishes. Radishes are a low calorie vegetable and a good source of vitamin C. Not sure how to work with them? Here’s how to prepare radishes.

17. Nuts

Instead of crotons, consider putting nuts in your salad. Hazelnuts and walnuts work well in salads and are high in protein. If you want something with more flavor, try homemade candied pecans.

18. Watermelon

During the late spring and summer months, watermelon in a salad is common sense working at its best. For inspiration, check out this amazing Cucumber Basil and Watermelon Salad with Love and Lemons recipe.

19. Pickled veggies

For the foodie or aspiring foodie, pickled veggies is a fun and creative way to eat vegetables. And an option to use in salads to keep it interesting. If this is new to you, here’s how to pickle any vegetable.

20. Make your own salad dressing

Most store bought salad dressings are unhealthy and pretty scary when you read the ingredient list. And what’s more sad than creating a healthy masterpiece only to pour something crappy all over it. It’s easy to make your own salad dressing at home and worth it. Here are 6 appealing vegan salad dressings recipes that can transform any salad.