OK, so summer is approaching very quickly and most of us are turning our attention to getting in shape in time for bathing suit season. At this time of year, salads become our friends. We turn to them for their delicious lightness, for a quick bite and for their tried and true body shaping qualities.
But uninteresting salads can make for a very dull meal and a very unhappy eater. And if you don’t top a salad the right way, you are going to very hungry, very quickly.
So here my top ten salad toppings to turn your salads from boring to delightful! Some of these tips are useful for eating salads at restaurants and others are for homemade ones. If you decide to create homemade salads and bring them with you to work, you may want to try those new salad plastic containers that hold the salad in one part and the dressing in another. That way your salad and salad toppings will be crispy when you decide to eat them.
1. Double the lean protein (turkey, chicken, eggs, fish) – add chicken and turkey or salmon and eggs. Do this especially if you often feel hungry after your salads. A little more protein may help you go the extra mile to avoid the vending machine in the afternoon.
2. Add beans, like black, kidney, cannelloni, or garbanzo. Beans have lots of great complex carbs, fiber and protein. They also help to fill you up and keep you that way.
3. Create your own dressings as salad toppings. My favorite is a combination of orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and Grey Poupon mustard. You can add some olive oil to make it even richer. I especially like this dressing with spinach leaves.
4. Add some fruit. Fruit can be great salad toppings. It can turn a boring salad into a sweet sensation. My favorites are: orange slices (fresh or canned), strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple slices (fresh or canned). If you are using canned, sugar-free fruit, use the juice to mix into the salad dressing.
5. Add some hummus, Baba-Ganoush or mashed white beans to your salad or salad dressing. This may sound odd, but it is actually quite delightful.
6. Make your own glazed nuts as salad toppings. Dry roast some walnuts or pecans and then add some honey or maple syrup to the pan to coat the nuts. Take them out of the pan and separate them before they cool, so they don’t clump. The nuts become a flavorful addition to a boring salad. This is great if you have a sweet tooth that you are trying to control.
7. Add cooked diced sweet potatoes or regular potatoes. Dice some potatoes into squares. Coat them in some olive oil and fresh rosemary and roast them until they are soft. Then toss them over mesclun greens. I especially like this salad with roasted asparagus spears and sliced eggs.
8. Add apples and pears. Cube up some apples and/or pears and sprinkle these on top of your salad. I especially like to mix apples and pears with walnuts and have them over spinach.
9. Skip the leaves. Chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocadoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Enjoy.
10. Change up your vinegars and oils. Spend some time in the oil and vinegar aisle at your local health food store. A new vinegar or oil can really change up your dressings and make for tasty salad toppings. Try mixing apple cider vinegar with apple juice and spicy mustard. Or rice wine vinegar with mirin wine (in the oriental section) and orange juice. Another suggestion: toasted sesame oil and rice wine vinegar with orange slices over cabbage greens.