National Salad Month!
Did you know that May is National Salad Month? For most of my life I avoided eating salads, because I thought they were boring and lacked flavor. The idea of eating tomatoes and lettuce with dressing on top was the last thing I ever considered eating. This all changed when I went to a salad restaurant in my hometown in Kentucky, where I saw the unlimited delicious possibilities that come with salads.
While many people do not prefer to eat salad, this meal does have to be boring. They can be modified in many different ways that can include many of your favorite ingredients and flavors. With the advent of summer, salads are the perfect dish to: put together in a pinch, lighten up a warm sunny day, and add as a perfect side dish to any of your favorite lunch or dinner meals. Salads are also a great way to get your daily servings of fruit, vegetables, grains, and protein throughout the day. Today we will break the stigma surrounding salads by offering some tips on how to dazzle up your salad game at home!
- Add Protein When it comes to making salads, there are endless possibilities to include. Adding protein options such as beans (chickpeas, black beans, or pinto beans), tofu, nuts and seeds, hard boiled eggs, lean poultry, salmon, tuna, turkey, or shrimp are all great ways to make a salad that is filling and that is full of fiber and pack a flavorful punch.
- Try Different Greens While iceberg lettuce is commonly used in salads, there are plenty of greens to choose from that are rich in nutrients our bodies need. Try adding greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, or kale to your salad. Adding a combination of greens not only looks appealing but is a great way to try out different flavors while getting a variety of nutrients that our bodies need.
- Make Your Own Salad Dressing Looking for a flavorful inexpensive salad dressing? Try making your own salad dressing at home! Instead of having to go to the grocery store to buy salad dressing (which can often be expensive and contain many unnecessary ingredients), try making your own salad dressing at home with an acid, oil, and spices. Check out our Make Your Own Salad Dressing for inspiration!
- Grow Your Own Greens What better way to spruce up your salad game than by growing your own salad greens at home! With so many options to choose from, you can grow your favorite salad greens from the confines of your own home or garden outside. Refer to the Grow Your Own Salad Greens article from our friends at Wisconsin Extension for tips on how to grow your own salad greens at home!
- Add Fruit When one thinks of salad, they typically don’t think of adding fruit, but adding fruit is a perfect way to incorporate fruits into your diet while also creating a bit of sweetness to the salad. Try incorporating citrus fruits such as mandarin oranges, sliced strawberries, or fresh blueberries as toppings.
- Taste the Rainbow One of the key messages of nutrition is to “eat the rainbow”, and salads are the perfect dish to do this with! Whether it’s dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, bright reds such as red bell peppers and tomatoes, blazing oranges such as carrots and oranges, or bright yellows such as corn or yellow peppers, there are endless color combinations that provide a wealth of different nutrients for our bodies.
- Add Grains When I was first introduced to salads that I liked, the salad recipes that I gravitated towards were salads with various types of grains, including rice (try brown rice for a fiber-filled whole grain!), whole grain pasta, corn, or quinoa. Adding grains to your salad is a great way to ensure you’ll be having a delicious filling meal with plenty of whole grains for gut and heart health.
Don’t sleep on salads this May! With endless possibilities and combinations, salads do not have to be boring and can be a great meal or side dish to enjoy on a nice warm sunny day outside or bring to a party to impress your friends and family.
- UMaine EFNEP Salad Recipes
- Make Your Own Salad Dressing
- Grow Your Own Salad Greens
- UMaine EFNEP Salad Recipes
by Alex Bosse, Nutrition Education Professional