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How to build a better salad

Just like building a wall, a salad has to start with a good solid base. Look for dark, leafy greens for starters, as these are rich in nutrients. After this foundation, you can start to add the other ingredients- the options are endless, so get creative!

Toss in shredded carrots and cabbage, spinach, watercress, tomatoes, oranges or sweet peas for a colorful, flavorful and fun salad. To add some uniqueness to your salad, try Greek olives, mushrooms and artichoke or palm heartsTry adding almonds or walnuts, which provide fiber, protein and healthy fats to satisfy your hunger. Pile on other veggies and add some crunch with celery, cucumbers, string beans, peppers or onions. Try adding in fruit like fresh strawberries, berries, pears or apple slices. Fruits sweeten your salad without adding too many calories. The more colorful your mix of fruits and vegetables, the more nutrients you will consume. 
 
You can add lean protein such as salmon, tuna or chicken, or try adding slices of hard-boiled eggs. Avocados are full of heart healthy fats and can be a great last minute addition to your salad. Soy beans are another add-in; you can find precooked edamame in the grocery store’s frozen-food section.
 
Avoid adding bacon bits, but if you still crave that flavor try turkey or Canadian bacon instead. Try adding sunflower seeds on your salad instead of croutons. If you choose cheese, opt for lower-fat soft cheese, such as goat or feta and use sparingly.
 
Top off your creation with a do-it-yourself dressing: mix ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and chopped parsley or thyme (makes four servings). Dribble; don’t soak this salad dressing onto your salad and enjoy!

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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