The salad bar can be a great place to build-you-own balanced meal or a place where you can feel like you are eating healthy when it really isn’t the case.
In college, the salad bar was my favorite aspect of dorm dining – when else do you have access to rows of clean and cut veggies? I frequented it on a daily basis and firmly believe that it helped prevent the dreaded freshman 15.
While I don’t get to the salad bar quite as often these days, it does make a great stand-in for those days that I don’t bring my own lunch. Here are my guidelines for building the perfect salad:
- The lettuce base: the darker the better, think spinach and spring greens for the majority, and some romaine for added crunch if desired. Fill most of the container with lettuce.
- Load up on veggies: add as many vegetables as you can, remembering the rainbow – think cucumber, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.
- Add a protein: tofu, beans, chicken or lean deli meats. This will add some staying power to your salad.
- The Extras: I sometimes like to add some deli salads for a little something extra, sometimes a grain or pasta, sometimes a veggie salad like the marinated Italian veggies shown here. If choosing a grain or mayo-based salad, stick to less than 1/2 cup.
- Fat & Flavor: Add 1 Tbsp of nuts (choose nuts over croutons) or flavorful cheese (feta, blue or parmesan) for some healthy fats and extra flavor.
- Dressing: Instead of the typical ranch dressing, try using a balsamic vinaigrette or a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar over your salad.
What ingredients does your ideal salad bar have?