Building a Healthy Salad Bowl

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When building a salad bowl, first consider if you will be preparing a side dish or a full meal. A side salad may consist of a few cleansing vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, red onions, and tomato. Sometimes only lettuce and tomato or 3-bean salad is served as a first course. But if you are looking to assemble a healthy salad bowl as a meal, it should contain all the calories and nutrients you need.

Building a Salad Bowl

A healthy salad bowl must be pleasing to the palate and satisfy the tummy. With this, you want to include a balanced mix of nutrients, flavors, and textures. Keep in mind a hearty medley of foods can easily become an unhealthy meal if you do not choose your ingredients wisely. Add items that are high in calories sparingly, such as nuts, avocado, seeds, creamy dressings, hummus, and cheese. Only use between two tablespoons and 1/4 cup of healthy fats.

Start with Fresh Salad Greens

There many leafy green options available at any salad bar or grocery store. The darker the greens, the higher the nutrient value:

  • Arugula
  • Baby spinach
  • Butter lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Romaine

Include at Least 2–3 Vegetables

The more colors you add to your healthy salad bowl the better. The options are endless so let your imagination run free. Raw veggies add unique textures and crunch. Roasted and grilled vegetables bring more varieties of flavor.

Fermented or pickled items like kimchi or sauerkraut provide probiotic benefits and a touch of tanginess. Fresh chopped herbs are also a nice way to add flavor and boost the nutritional value.

Top with a Lean Protein

A healthy protein serving should equal the size of your palm. Some lean options include:

  • Chicken or turkey
  • Tofu
  • Cottage cheese
  • Beans
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa

Don’t Fear Smart Carbs

Stick with about a 1/3 to 1/2 a cup serving of beans, whole grains or fruits. Beans and quinoa both counts as a carb and a protein.

Healthy Salad Bowl Dressing

It is easy to make your own dressing when building a healthy salad bowl. Keep it simple, just a little oil, vinegar, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. You can also experiment with hummus, rice vinegar, liquid amino acids or salsa.

If you prefer flavor your salad with store-bought dressing, be sure to check the nutrition label. Look for natural ingredients and steer clear of high sodium, sugar and fat contents, and preservatives.

To make healthy eating easy during the week, prep your meals on Sunday or purchase pre-cut vegetables and canned beans.

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