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Guide to the Perfect Salad

To many, a salad may just seem like a boring pile of greens. But given the right toppings, a salad can become the perfect healthy lunch. Read on for some tips on creating the perfect salad, plus a few tips on changing it up if your salad game has gotten a little mundane!

Vary the greens:

There are tons of different types of greens you can use in your salads. Kale, spinach, and myriad varieties of lettuce are all great bases, and you can mix them up daily to get different flavors. Not all greens are created equal— each one has a different flavor and texture— but all are packed with key vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.

Curate your toppings:

This is where the magic happens. The right salad toppings can mean the difference between a mediocre salad and the best salad you’ve ever eaten. Toppings can include a variety of things such as seeds, vegetables, or meat— just be cautious not to over-do the items that will be the caloric bulk of the dish.

Some ideas for salad toppings:

  • Quinoa
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower)
  • Nuts (cashews are a delight!)
  • Protein: Meat, seafood or tofu
  • Avocado or olives
  • Fruits such as strawberries or mandarin oranges
  • Cheese (so many options!)
  • Prepared salads: Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, chickpea salad…

Dress with care:

Like the icing on the cake, the salad dressing you choose is the thing that seals the deal. Be wary when choosing— some dressings, such as the creamy ones, contain a lot of calories, sugars, and/or fats. Always check the packaging and avoid dressings that have high fructose corn syrup, and be cautious to use a reasonable portion. Creating your own dressing can be a healthier, controlled alternative: Shake up some EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar in a bottle and you’ll have a tasty balsamic vinaigrette in seconds. You can also get creative and use things such as salsa or guacamole as a dressing!

Pair your salad with an apple or a small bowl of soup for a lunch you’ll look forward to every day. You can even prepare your salads ahead of time by putting them together in airtight tupperware containers or mason jars; saving the toppings that would spoil (like the avocados or other fruits) to add until later and placing the dressing in a separate container. What does your perfect salad look like?