5 Healthy Tips To Mix Up Your Salad Routine

by Ani Manukian, RDN, LD

Last Updated: July 2, 2020

When thinking about healthy eating, salads immediately come to mind. But when thinking about your favorite foods, they may not. At Kroger, we believe in eating and enjoying fresh food. Luckily, there are endless combinations and no wrong way to eat salad. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic causing shortages of some of your favorite items, we hope these tips will help you find new ingredients that you will love and that are available.
  1. Go Seasonal.
    Follow nature’s lead and incorporate seasonal produce. Try the following combinations or create your own using this seasonal produce guide from the Produce for Better Health Foundation:
    1. Fall – try topping spinach with roasted butternut squash and beets, diced apples, toasted pecans, and balsamic dressing.
    2. Winter – try topping shredded red and green cabbage with carrots, celery, mandarin orange segments, and Thai Peanut Sauce.
    3. Spring – try topping swiss chard with raw asparagus, mushrooms and peas sautéed with garlic, and a lemon vinaigrette.
    4. Summer – try topping any greens with diced red bell pepper, grilled corn, cherry tomato halves, diced mango, and an avocado lime dressing.

    Nutrition tip: Some nutrition experts encourage eating at least 100 different foods per year for optimal variety. Eating with the season can help us to naturally vary our intake and take advantage of what each season has to offer while preventing boredom and burnout.
  2. Recreate your favorite restaurant salad.
    Learn from the best and recreate your favorite dine-in salads at home. Chefs put an incredible amount of time and energy into their creations, so take note of the ingredients in your favorite restaurant choices. You can make it exactly how you want; leave out ingredients you don’t care for or sub them for something else – without the upcharge!
  3. Dress it up.
    Fat helps keep us full and satisfied longer and helps carry delicious flavor. Whenever possible opt for a plant-based fat – think avocado or avocado oil, olives or olive oil, nuts, or seeds. Make your own creamy avocado dressing, or check out this article for quick dressing recipes, like Thai Peanut, Balsamic, and Creamy Hummus, using items you’re likely to have on hand. Another option is to try some of these creamy yogurt-based dressings our Kroger dietitians love.

    Nutrition tip: Aim to include both fat and acid for optimal vitamin and mineral absorption. Think oil and vinegar, a homemade avocado lime dressing, or any bottled variety with a heart-healthy fat and acid.
  4. Add fun flavor-boosters.
    Just a single ingredient can bring a serious “wow” factor. Liven up your next salad with these flavor-boosters:
    1. Roasted garlic for a flavor punch.
    2. Pickled red onions for bright flavor and color.
    3. Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or dill.
    4. A sprinkle of strong cheese like parmesan, extra sharp cheddar, or feta.
    5. Toasted nuts, seeds, quinoa, or even coconut for crunch.
    6. A sprinkle of your favorite seasoning mix.
  5. Create a recipe exchange.
    Ask friends and family for their go-to salad recipes – most people have at least one favorite recipe they swear by and will be happy to share with you. If you’re really serious about upping your salad game, plan a salad party for your next get-together – kind of like a chips and dip party, but greener! As the host, provide the proteins and some side items and ask your guests to each bring their favorite salad with copies of the recipe. Guests can try each one and take the recipes for those they liked.

Salad still isn’t your thing? Luckily, there are enough fruits and vegetables and so many ways to prepare that we can all find something healthy that we truly enjoy eating. Remember, there’s no wrong way to eat produce and more is (almost always) better. Check out the Produce for Better Health Foundation for information on every type of produce imaginable, including tips for picking, storing, and preparing.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Ani Manukian RDN, LD

Ani Manukian RDN, LD

Ani is living her dream as a real food dietitian, helping her patients merge the science of nutrition with the art of creating tasty, balanced meals. She competes in the sport of weightlifting and has personal and professional experience in sports nutrition, flexible dieting, and weight loss.