The Best (and Worst!) of Salads

May is National Salad Month! Sometimes we might just think of salads as a basic side dish, but salads can actually be extremely versatile. Not to mention, salads are an excellent way to incorporate more fresh vegetables and fruits. Although salads can be nutrient-rich, it’s easy to overdo it on the dressings and toppings, which can spell trouble for calories and saturated fats.   If you’re going to be celebrating this month, here are some of the best (and worst!) things you can do to your salads!  

BEST: Add a lean protein source! If you’re looking to make your salad a main dish, make sure to add a protein source such as chicken, turkey, lean beef, or even roasted chickpeas. Incorporating a quality protein will help to balance this meal. 
WORST: Go heavy on the high-fat dressings. Dressings are a great way to add more flavor to your salads, however many creamy dressings are laden with saturated fats. Try opting for a vinaigrette, which typically requires only a few ingredients and are easy to make at home!

BEST: Get creative with your base. Salads don’t have to just be made with basic iceberg lettuce. Incorporate more dark, leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, or kale. Or, you can even use whole grain pasta to make a pasta salad!

WORST: Pile on the croutons. While croutons can provide a nice crunch to a salad, the truth is they provide very little nutrition and can easily add excess calories if you aren’t careful with how much you’re using. Be mindful of serving sizes, or forego the croutons overall. Instead, try incorporating extra raw veggies, such as carrots or broccoli, to add more crunchiness without packing on calories. Or add a side of whole grain crackers.

BEST: Get colorful with your fruits and veggies. Did you know that different colored fruits and vegetables have different nutrients? That’s why we like to emphasize “eating the rainbow” with your produce. Add some fun pops of color to your salad- such as bell peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, or fresh berries!

WORST: Topping with bacon or fried onion. These additions can also pack saturated fat and sodium to your salad. A healthier swap to still get that crunch factor could be adding in unsalted nuts or seeds, such as almonds or pumpkin seeds.