If you’re like most of us, you’re constantly trying to figure out how to eat more vegetables. More importantly, you’re trying to figure out how to actually like eating more vegetables. For some reason, nobody looks at a juicy, perfectly cooked cheeseburger with a side of crispy fries and thinks, hmm… the only thing missing here is a nice pile of fresh broccoli!
It’s not that vegetables necessarily taste bad or even look unappetizing; it’s just that they can sometimes be rather bland. They seem to lack that “yum!” factor so prevalent in the foods we actually crave. So what can be done about it? How can we learn to truly enjoy the taste of natural, high-vitamin goodness with our meals in a form that, preferably, isn’t ketchup? The answer is simple: salad.
Although many restaurants will lead you to believe that a side salad consists of iceberg lettuce, three cucumber slices and a cherry tomato — topped with a teaspoon of grated carrots at your fancier establishments – you can get pretty creative with your ingredients. Salad allows you to combine a wide range of tastes and textures to create a side dish that’s not only good for you, but delicious, too. And it’s relatively easy to prepare.
Start with a leafy base, but don’t limit yourself to a chopped up head of iceberg lettuce. Try branching out with romaine, fresh spinach or arugula for a bolder flavor. Feeling adventurous? Use a combination. Then, add your “meatier” ingredients such as sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, chopped mushrooms and even small clusters of cauliflower and yes… broccoli.
Like your salad with a little bite? Add some sliced red onion or jalapeno peppers. Going for a Southwestern flair? Add some corn – frozen (cooked and then chilled), canned (drained) and freshly shucked all work nicely. Prefer Far East flavor? Try mixing in snow peas, bean sprouts or water chestnuts. The possibilities are virtually endless. After you’ve decided on the perfect mix of vegetables, it’s time to go nuts… literally!
Nuts are a great way to add texture and taste to your salad. Try chopped up walnuts, peanuts or pecans. If nuts aren’t your thing, add some crunch with croutons, bite-sized tortilla chips, sunflower or sesame seeds or even chow mein noodles. Of course there’s always that old stand-by – bacon bits – but why not crumble your own freshly cooked slices for a taste bud treat?
Finally, consider adding cheese to your salad. Shredded cheddar is a popular choice, but some of our favorites include crumbled feta, blue or goat cheeses. These soft, creamy cheeses add so much flavor and moisture that you may even want to skip the salad dressing.
Whatever combination of ingredients you use to make your salad, it is sure to be tastier and more flavorful than a side of steamed broccoli or a handful of baby carrots. Experiment until you find a mixture that makes your mouth water when you think about it. There’s no reason you can’t eat your vegetables and enjoy them, too!
So tell us, what are some of your favorite salad ingredients?