Building a Better Salad

fruits and veggies
By: Lora Unger, Nutrition and Health Sciences Graduate Student

Not all salads are created equal! By using a little creativity and the following tips, you can build a salad that is both healthy and tastes great. A salad can be a meal that is high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

How To Build a Better Salad

Step 1: Select greens (2 cups)
  • Go dark green! Spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and arugula are high in fiber, folate, and Vitamin C. Limit the iceberg lettuce, which is far lower in nutrients.
Step 2: Color (1 cup)
  • Add a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to your salad. Different colors often contain different nutrients. The dining halls aim to carry a wide variety of options every day. Try adding carrots, tomato, peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, and avocados. The more color, the better!
Step 3: Protein (3 ounces)
  • Add about 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards) of grilled chicken breast, salmon, or turkey for a healthy protein option. Beans, hard boiled eggs, or cottage cheese are also great sources of protein. Tofu or tempeh make for great vegan options. Protein helps to keep you feeling full longer and also helps to stabilize blood sugar.
Step 4: Nuts and seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • Nuts and seeds not only help to add texture to salads, but also add vital nutrients. They are high in fiber, contain healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your brain and also help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Step 5: Dress it up (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Salad dressing can be high in calories and fat. Aim for non-creamy dressings such as balsamic vinaigrette, Italian, or a combination of olive oil and vinegar, and add only 1-2 tablespoons. Many find that squeezing lemon or orange juice onto a salad is just as tasty! You might find that keeping dressing on the side is helpful.

Tips for Success

  • Before heading to the salad bar, take a walk around the dining center to see the options that are available that could be added to your salad. Many lean meats and fish are often available in other areas.
  • After looking at available options, pick a theme for your salad – sweet or savory. Use fruit, vegetables, or both that complement your salad. Choosing varied options each time will help keep your plate exciting. Use your imagination and be as creative as you like!

For more information contact: Pam Edwards, University Dining Services, [email protected]