I sometimes feel embarrassed to admit that I love salads. Salads are probably the food most closely associated with the extremely toxic and shame-inducing diet industry. And because the diet industry has been rightfully vilified, salads seem to have been caught up in the crossfire. Not to mention the fact that salads are generally classified as “girl food” and “girl food” is commonly subjected to ridicule (see pumpkin spice, banana bread, smoothie bowls, for example). Which is why I feel like proclaiming my genuine and deep love of salads is often met with an internal eye-roll. But, I’m here to say that, while I get the disdain for salads, I really, truly, honestly love salads.
Why do I love salads? I’m so glad you asked. First, they’re easy. You don’t need any fancy cooking skills to make a salad delicious. Some basic knife shells and you’re well on your way.
Second, I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from eating a salad feeling sick. And as someone who has dealt with digestive issues, that’s not nothing.
Third, salads are a great way to add more variety into our diet. Diets with more diversity are linked to more diversity in our gut microbiome. And a diverse microbiome is connected to better digestive health. Variety in our diet also means we’re more likely to be getting the proper variety of micronutrients from our diet.
Finally, and most importantly, they’re delicious! Now, I’m not talking about that lone sad salad you’ll find at a restaurant that’s got a few mealy tomatoes, dry shredded cheese, overcooked chicken, and is drenched in a low-quality dressing. I’m talking about a salad loaded with seasonal ingredients, flavors, and textures that leave you satisfied and happy. A craveable salad that implements several of the tips below.
A Note on Bio-Individuality
Before we get to the tips for making salads delicious, I want to add that there are some people dealing with digestive issues that have a harder time digesting raw veggies. As such, a big salad is likely to cause plenty of digestive discomfort. This is why I don’t like to classify any food as “healthy” because what’s nourishing for one person’s body might be aggravating for another. It all depends on what your own, unique, beautiful body needs to feel good and function well.
10 Ways to Make Salads Delicious
- Start with a good base. Sometimes a salad calls for crunchy romaine and sometimes a tender green is where it’s at. Whatever your usual go-to is, try switching things up. Add in some shredded cabbage for crunch. Toss in a handful of arugula for texture and peppery flavor. Get creative with your salad base and you’ll be halfway to a delicious salad from the start
- Flavor-packed protein. One of the two main reasons a salad might leave you feeling unsatisfied is from too little protein. Make sure to load up your salad with whatever protein you love and make sure that protein is seasoned up good. Grilled chicken, seared salmon, marinated tofu – whatever your little heart desires!
- Good fats. The second main reason a salad will leave you wanting more is a lack of fat. Fat is a crucial part of satiety and helps keep you feeling full longer. Plus, fat is delicious. Make sure and add plenty of high-quality fat to your salad, like an herbaceous olive oil, salty cheese, creamy hummus, or some simple avocado slices.
- Vary your veggies. Seasonal veggies are key to a delicious salad. Trying to put a tomato on your salad in the middle of winter is only going to make your taste buds very sad. Branch out from your go-to veggies and start experimenting with some seasonal produce.
- Add some texture. There’s something so satisfying about adding some crunch to a salad. Try adding some nuts, seeds, or crispy chickpeas to your next salad. Another great way to add some texture variety is to add roasted vegetables. I’m partial to roasted sweet potatoes on salads. Heaven.
- Fruit for a touch of sweetness. Sometimes just a little added sweetness really rounds out a salad nicely. Try adding some berries, citrus fruit, stone fruit, melon, or anything else that’s in season and seems like it will complement your salad.
- Load up on herbs. Herbs are my very favorite way to easily add a ton of flavor and really elevate a salad. Any soft herb works, so get creative by adding some parsley, mint, basil, dill, whatever sounds good.
- Bulk it up with grains. Whether you use it as a base for your salad or as more of a garnish, grains like quinoa, rice, amaranth, or even couscous are a great way to add some bulk to your salad along with added nutrient density.
- Top with some pickles. And I don’t mean hamburger pickles, though if that’s your thing then go for it! Quick pickles are super easy to make and pack a ton of flavor. Try quick pickling red onions, radishes, asparagus, carrots, peppers, or simple cucumbers.
- Finish with a bomb dressing. A dressing absolutely can make or break a salad. I love mixing up my own quick vinaigrette as a way to complement and complete the salad. Because you want the dressing to just tie everything together rather than smothering everything in an attempt to make it tolerable.
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