A lot of people consider salads to be boring. They are a healthy option, and because of this, most people expect them to consist of bland and flavorless vegetables all mixed together in one bowl. But this isn’t the case. In fact, if you make your salad correctly, it can actually make a pretty exciting meal.
But, making a salad correctly isn’t the easiest task. A lot of people think that a salad should solely consist of vegetables because this is what society perceives as “healthy”. But, if you make a salad with just vegetables, it will actually have the opposite effect.
Instead of being healthy, the meal that you make will be unhealthy instead. A good healthy salad will be well-balanced, using a range of ingredients to ensure that you get all the nutrients that you need.
The best salads will be new and exciting, with a variety of different ingredients to make the flavor diverse. But how do you achieve this? In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the best ingredients to use to make your salad new and exciting. So to find out more, keep on reading.
What Makes a Good Salad?
So, what makes a good salad? Well, what makes a salad good for you will depend on what you want out of your salad. Most of the time when you are making a salad, you want it to be healthy, and this leads a lot of people to make poor and uneducated decisions. This is the main reason why so many people pack their salad with vegetables, but they do this without realizing that solely using vegetables will make a salad unhealthy.
A good salad will be balanced, and in order to achieve this, it will use foods from a variety of different food groups. Yes, the salad will predominantly be made up of salad, including lettuce, carrots, and vegetables similar to that. But other ingredients will be added to it to give the salad more sustenance. This will include things such as protein (whether it be from meat or meat alternatives), fats, and carbohydrates. A salad will only be able to form an entire meal if ingredients from all of these food categories are used.
But it isn’t just the nutrients that you need to consider when making a salad. If you want your salad to be exciting, you need to think about the different flavors that you use too. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the different categories of toppings that you need to use.
The Toppings You Need and Why
Like we have said, in order for your salad to be a part of a healthy diet, the ingredients in it need to be balanced. A lot of people talk about salad in terms of “toppings”, but by toppings, what they really mean is ingredients. Your salad will have base ingredients, usually made up of lettuce and similar greens. Any ingredients added on top of these greens will then be considered toppings, even though they make up the largest part of the salad itself.
These toppings can be divided into categories, they include:
- Fruit and Vegetables – for health benefits.
- Proteins – for slow-burning energy.
- Carbohydrates – for fast-burning energy.
- Herbs – for flavor.
- Fats – to form a healthy, balanced meal.
While these are the main categories of toppings, some people will include other food types in their salad too. However, any good salad will contain foods from all the categories above. Now that we have looked at these different food categories, let’s take a look at some of the best toppings from all of these categories.
Cucumber looks great in a salad, and this is mainly because it is a different shape and size to other ingredients you might find in a salad. As well as looking great, cucumber is very low in calories, and it is refreshing too. It is the perfect topping to add to a salad that you are going to eat on a hot summer’s day.
Beets add color to your salad, and this is why they are so popular. Just like cucumbers, they look great and taste great too. Compared to cucumbers, they have a much stronger flavor, and this means that they can transform the taste of your salad. They are the perfect topping if you want to make your salad look exciting and appealing to eat.
Spinach might not look the nicest, but it is a great addition to a salad because it boasts lots of health benefits. In particular, spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and vitamin E, which are great for your immune system. So, it is great to add spinach to your salad if you want to protect yourself from bacteria and viruses.
Tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable, but it fits perfectly into a savory salad. Tomato is full of flavor, and every time you eat it, it will taste a little different. As well as being flavorful, tomatoes are juicy and low in calories, fat, and lots more. So it is the perfect option for a healthy, balanced salad.
One of the best proteins for your salad is chicken. Chicken is quick and easy to prepare and cook, and it can easily be transformed in terms of flavor by adding seasonings to the pan. Whether you grill it, fry it, or roast it, your chicken will taste different, and it will be more/less healthy. But, if you cook it in a healthy manner, this protein is low in calories but full of health benefits.
If you prefer protein that is naturally packed with flavor, then tuna might be the better option for you. Tuna is a type of fish, and it is actually one of the healthiest fish that you can eat. As well as being low in calories, tuna is full of health benefits because it contains vitamins and minerals. It is also quick and easy to prepare, just like chicken.
Should you be serving salad as part of a fancy dinner party, then steak is the perfect protein. It is more expensive, but it is easy to prepare, and it always tastes great. It likely isn’t the first ingredient that you will consider, but steak tastes great when it is added to a salad.
If you don’t eat meat, then a boiled egg is the best alternative way of adding protein to your salad. Boiled eggs are delicious, easy to prepare, and easy to eat too. They are flavorful and packed with nutrients to ensure that you get everything you need out of your salad.
When people think about eating healthy, they often think you should cut carbohydrates out of your diet completely. But you shouldn’t do this, you need carbohydrates in moderation, and rice is one of the best options because it is very filling.
Due to the way that rice is often cooked, people associate it with unhealthy meals, so some people do not like to include it in a salad. If you are of this mindset, then quinoa is the perfect alternative for you.
Chickpeas are widely enjoyed by those who do not eat meat, and this is because they contain lots of health benefits. They are also a great source of carbohydrates if you want to make your salad healthy and balanced.
Sweet potato fries have taken the world by storm, but regular sweet potatoes taste great too. They are full of flavor, and actually pretty healthy too. So, they are a great source of carbohydrates for your salad.
If you want to add another dimension of flavor to your salad, then we would recommend using basil. You can use fresh basil, like the type that is popular in Italian cuisine, and it is incredibly delicious, and very healthy too.
If you prefer minty flavors, then mint is the perfect herb to add to your salad. Again, you can use fresh mint, and simply stir it through with the other ingredients. It is full of flavor, and the perfect way to switch up your salad.
With the increase in people switching to a vegan diet, avocado has become more and more popular. It is served on toast and bagels and in other dishes. But it also tastes amazing when served in a salad. Add avocado to your salad to give it more flavor, and to also get an excellent source of fat.
Alternatively, you can use feta cheese in your salad. Feta cheese isn’t packed with flavor, but it will add another dimension to your salad. It is delicious, and it is a great way to make your salad taste a little different. Chop it up and scatter it on top of the other ingredients.
Another great source of fat is legumes, and almonds are a perfect choice. Almonds are not packed with flavor, but they are easy to scatter across the top of your salad. They are perfect for getting just enough fat in your salad, without making it unhealthy.
Finally, you could add sunflower seeds to your salad. Sunflower seeds are another great source of fat, and they are delicious too. So, if you like to chew on sunflower seeds, you will love the flavor and texture of them in your salad.
Once you have put together all the different ingredients for your salad, you can then finish it off with a good salad dressing. You have a couple of different options to choose from, including:
- Olive oil
- Lime/Lemon juice
- Honey mustard dressing
- Balsamic dressing
- And lots more…
Salad dressing is the best topping on a salad and the perfect way to wrap your salad up. So make sure you choose a dressing that complements the flavors of the other ingredients that you have used in this dish.
We don’t know who came up with the idea that salad has to be boring and flavorless, but they were totally wrong as you can see. Salads are a delicious and healthy meal choice for anyone, regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not, and now you’ll know exactly what to put on your salad to make it taste incredible.
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