Seriously. Sometimes I feel like if I eat one more salad I'll cry. Probably because I'm so predictable and end up topping my lettuce with the same 3 things every time. Lately, I've been on a mission to branch out and spice up my salads. Trying out different combinations, and being a little more creative than iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and sliced cucumber. Which is basically what my salads used to be. Blech. I thought I'd put together a list of some amazing toppers to inspire you to make your own amazing salads for summer!
The Base: most of the time, salads start out with some greens on the bottom. Iceberg should only be the thing that cut short that Titanic movie---it doesn't belong on your plate! Try baby spinach, romaine, endive, red-leaf lettuce, kale, or baby greens.
|Mesclun Mix, sweet potato, sliced strawberries, almonds, dried cranberries, and green beans!|
Veggies: In this category, there are no limits. With low calories and high nutritional value, veggies reign in the salad kingdom. Typical toppers are cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli. Use these if you like them, but add to them as well, including bell peppers, green beans, snap peas, mushrooms, corn, cauliflower, radishes, and sprouts.
Protein: If you're treating your salad as your meal, you need to include some protein. I'm officially over sliced grilled chicken breast. Delicious? Yes. But I've had it about a gazillion too many times. Different ideas include sliced lean steak, turkey, tofu, shrimp, canned tuna or salmon, fresh seared fish, eggs, beans, or edamame.
|Baby spinach, canned tuna, grapes, and diced pickles!|
Fruit: Not long ago I would have been confused about this--growing up, salads did not include fruit. Definitely an error. Fruit can add a whole new level to a salad, increasing flavor and texture beautifully. Toss in sliced strawberries, kiwis, grapes, pears or orange segments. For a tropical salad, try pineapple or mango. Dried fruit can also make a great addition--dried berries pack an anti-oxidant punch to boot!
Fats: as with any dish, some healthy fats are necessary. Try slices of avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, or a handful of nuts. Sliced almonds add some major crunch to almost any salad. Seeds are perfect as well--try sunflower or pumpkin. Cheese is a flavorful way to add fat to the meal, but skip the chain restaurant style handful of grated cheddar. Instead, use your favorite flavor-filled cheese so you can add a small amount without breaking the calorie bank. Parmesan is my personal favorite!
Extras: Untraditional toppings are the ones that make for a memorable salad. If you have some leftover cooked grains like quinoa, couscous, or barley, toss them in cold. Slice up a sweet potato to make a salad super filling.
Dressing: Think outside of the bottle for this one. While there are lots of delicious dressings that come pre-made, often the best ones are something different. Try a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper for a delicious homemade vinaigrette. Salsa is also a great salad dressing, adding some serious heat (unless you're like me and have to choose mild because medium makes you cry)!
|Mixed greens with grapes, sweet potato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and side of rye and PB.|
I'd like to shout out to the hubs who joined me for my 100 Push-up Challenge last night. It's so much more fun doing that workout with someone else! Our first set even included this nugget of awesome:
Two people get in push-up position facing each other. After one push-up, extend opposite arms and slap each other's hands. Return to push-up position and continue. Alternate hands with each push-up that you do. This is way harder than normal push-ups, and is amazing for your core. Try it with a buddy! (I'm looking at you Rose!)
What are your favorite salad ingredients?
Lately I've been a fan of baby spinach, some protein, and fruit like grapes or strawberries. Yum! My top pick would have to be a salad with some nice seared tuna though, so good!
Do you prefer to work out alone or with someone else?
I definitely prefer to run on my own. It's my zone-out time and I love it. For everything but cardio, it's way more fun for me to have a workout partner. I push myself a lot harder and have more motivation in general.