When we think of salads, we often think of the typical side salad that we get at a restaurant. However, salads have many different variations and can provide us with the opportunity to be creative and experiment by adding foods that we enjoy and that are beneficial for our bodies.
What better way to get your kids involved than by allowing them to create their own salad? Try plating their greens, and then providing many different topping options for your child to experiment with. Children are more likely to eat more nutritious foods when they are the ones that helped to prepare it. Allow them to make recommendations for vegetables, fruits, and proteins that they would like to try on their salad next time.
Tips for a delicious and nutritious salad:
- Greens – Instead of only using iceberg lettuce, try adding some different leafy greens to the base of your salad. Arugula, kale, spinach, cabbage, etc., are all great options to try.
- Other vegetables – Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and onions are all great options for salad toppings. Try adding some new vegetables to your salads and see how you like them. Asparagus, radishes, peas, broccoli, avocado, and mushrooms are some other things you could possibly try. Remember, the more color the better!
- Fruits – Many people enjoy the sweetness that fruit gives to their salad. Try adding things such as blueberries, strawberries, mandarin oranges, raspberries, or diced apples to your salad.
- Proteins – Beans are a great option to add to any salad. They provide the body with both protein and fiber. Try using black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or any other beans you may have on hand. Choosing lean meats, low-fat cheese, nuts, and seeds can also add protein to your salad.
- Grains – Some people enjoy adding grains to their salad. Try adding brown rice, quinoa, or couscous to make a hearty dish.
- Salad Dressings– Remember to be careful about the type of salad dressings that you choose. Many salad dressings are extremely high in fat and calories, and we often tend to put a lot more on our salad than a serving size. It is best to choose a salad dressing that is oil, vinegar, and water based. Many of the “creamy” salad dressings are very high in calories and fat.
Source: Kylie Fordham, Dietetic Intern, Georgia Southern University