Put A Spin On Your Salad

December 06th, 2019

According to USDA’s MyPlate, half of all our meals should be composed of fruits and vegetables. The amount of vegetables you need each day depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity, but a great way to meet your daily requirements is by eating salads. 


Anyone who has eaten the same salad day after day knows how quickly things can get boring. Try these tips if you find you and your family are falling into the familiar lettuce, tomato, carrot rut.


Vary your veggies

It seems obvious, but many of us are guilty of this major salad flaw. A truly healthy diet includes vegetables from all five subgroups – dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and others. Try buying a new veggie each time you go to the grocery store. 


Eat the rainbow

Create a palate of colorful foods. This has been proven to improve your health and your mood. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, and pomegranate provide tanginess and a fun splash of color. There’s an endless variety of colorful vegetables too: heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, and radishes all come in numerous shades.


Add some crunch

Different textures help break up the routine with salads, and make them more fun to eat. Try adding these ingredients to a bowl of leafy greens:


  • Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans

  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pepitas, pine nuts

  • Apples, jicama, bell peppers

  • Whole wheat croutons or tortilla strips


Swap out cold lettuce for warm grains

Don’t consider it a salad unless it has lettuce? Time to reconsider. Try building your bowl on a foundation of grains — not greens — every once in a while. Farrow, quinoa, brown rice and lentils all make great substitutes. Or take traditional grain-based meals and make them healthy by substituting in nutritious ingredients, like this take on Mexican corn salad, or esquites.


Harness that protein power

Meats like chicken, turkey, salmon, and shrimp are great sources of protein, and they add a savory element. But those aren’t the only ways to beef up your salads — beans are a great source of muscle-building nutrients, as are many vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Swapping out red meat for plant proteins can help lower your cholesterol, and your risk of heart disease. 


Think outside the bowl

Just because it’s a salad doesn’t mean it has to be eaten in a bowl. Salads can take many forms. Try wrapping your favorite ingredients in lettuce, like these sweet and tasty bok choy wrappers. Or simply arrange a platter of cut veggies to dunk into healthy dips like hummus. Craving a burger? Make a hamburger with lean beef or turkey, salad for a bun, and your favorite ingredients like tomatoes, onions, avocado and cheese.


Remember that healthy eating habits start when we’re young. Encourage your child to eat a varied diet and get their daily serving of fruits and vegetables. WaveCrest Cafe provides many options for students at school — fresh seasonal fruit, entree items like the new Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad, and choice-friendly salad bars at every elementary school are just a handful of the ways we make eating healthy fun and exciting here at VUSD.