Forget Salad Recipes, Try a Salad “Matrix”

Does anything scream “I’m on a diet” more than eating a salad for lunch? Probably not. While salads are innately healthy, too many of us have been stuck eating unexciting salads in the hopes of shedding a few pounds.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Mixing up our daily intake of greens can be a great way to keep our interest in eating healthy. After all, if we like what we are consuming, it is much easier to for a healthy lifestyle versus relying on a “diet.”

One way to keep salads fun and interesting is by changing up the ingredients. We’ve put together a matrix of ingredients you can choose from to never again have the same salad twice!  

Step #1 – The Base

Every salad begins with a base, whether that includes leafy greens or grains. Begin your salad build with a healthy foundation by choosing one of the following:

  • Crispy greens: Boston, romaine, or iceberg lettuce
  • Leafy greens: Arugula, radicchio, or baby kale
  • Grains: Quinoa, farro, freekeh, or millet
  • Slaw: Green, purple, savoy, or Napa cabbage

Step #2 – Add Proteins

Next, add a source of sustained energy in the form of proteins. There are a variety of options to really liven up your salad including:

  • Chicken or eggs
  • Tempah or tofu
  • Crab, salmon, shrimp, or tuna
  • Beans, chickpeas, or lentils

Step #3 – Time for Veggies

Hardly any dietitian puts restrictions on how many vegetables to consume, so go ahead, mix-and-match your favorites and make sure to add lots of color:

  • Cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts
  • Radishes, squash, or sweet potatoes
  • Beans, onions, peppers, or peas
  • Beets, carrots, fennel bulb, or parsnips

Step #4 – Sweeten with Fruit

The difference between fruits and vegetables has to do with what part of the plant it comes from. But for most of us, we think of fruits as a sweeter alternative to veggies:

  • Avocado, apples, plums, or pear
  • Blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries
  • Cantaloupe, mangos, or melons
  • Orange or grapefruit
  • Tomatoes (yes, they are a fruit!)

Step #5 – Dress It Up

This is where an otherwise healthy salad can go south. Be cautious of the type and amount of dressing you choose to add.

  • Balsamic or vinaigrette
  • French, Italian, or Russian
  • Blue cheese, ranch, or sweet maple

Step #6 – Get Crunchy

Like any other meal, a salad should not only be tasty, but add a variety of textures. Adding just a few crunchy toppings will add a little excitement to every bite:

  • Almonds, pecans, walnuts
  • Peanuts (not actually a nut)
  • Chickpeas, edamame, or roasted quinoa

Step #7 - Say Cheese

Cheese can make your salad fun or sophisticated. But, just like salad dressings, be careful of adding too much. There is an endless array of cheeses to choose from, these are just a few:

  • Cheddar, feta, or Parmesan
  • Blue or goat
  • Brie, Havarti, mozzarella, or Munster

Healthy salads don’t have to be boring. With so many options to choose from, there is an infinite number of ingredient combinations to keep your commitment to health interesting every day!