Break the monotony of sad desk lunches with an artfully composed, filling, and satisfying salad.
In this article we share tips on how to be creative and how to build flavor without compromising diet or budget. Your salad can taste good while also being satiating and nourishing.
With a couple changes, your desk-lunch salad could be the highlight of your day! Well, maybe not of your day… it’s just a salad, after all. But maybe you’ll at least get excited about your lunch.
Djamel Dine Zitout
The world of lettuce is large and filled with so much taste. For example, arugula or mizuna can add a sharp peppery bite; green and oak leaf lettuces are soft and lightly sweet due to lots of wrinkles and curves to trap flavorful dressings. Bitter greens like escarole, baby beet greens, endive, and radicchio can add depth and contrast in flavors.
Cooked quinoa, rice, beans, and lentils can all be used to bolster a salad and make it a more substantial meal. Using grains and legumes will also help satisfy carbohydrate cravings. Complex carbohydrates will keep you feeling full longer than refined carbs, cutting down on hunger pangs and preventing huge spikes in blood sugar.
Take this recipe for Mexiquinoa Salad for example, it’s loaded with quinoa, fresh corn, black beans, and sliced scallions. Use this flavorful recipe as a base, and load on more greens to make your meal.
Nuts and seeds are a delicious source of many essential vitamins and minerals, can help you reach you recommended intake of protein each day, and have good fats that can keep you feeling fuller longer.
Toss toasted sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or pepitas onto your next salad; the toasty aromas and satisfying crunch will be addicting and keep you coming back for more.
Create a rainbow in your bowl with fruits and vegetables: red peppers, orange carrots, yellow sweet corn, green scallions, blueberries, and purple pomegranate seeds. Maybe not all those in one bowl… but you get the point. Coloring your bowl will give you a variety of flavors and textures, and gives you the whole spectrum of vitamins and nutrients.
Differing textures make it fun for your mouth and taste buds. Add a crunchy element like croutons, chips, seeds, or nuts; and add a chew with cooked grains like rice, pasta, quinoa, or lentils. Entertain your senses — even something as simple as cutting up the lettuce in a different way (i.e. smaller or bigger bites) can renew your palate’s interest.
The Flex Foodie
Try making these Crunchy Cumin Chickpeas, or a personal favorite: Mexican Spiced Pepitas. Simply toss raw pumpkin seeds in coconut oil, a half a teaspoon each salt, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, and toast at 400 degrees F until lightly browned. The little flavor bombs will upgrade any salad and enliven your afternoon.
Taste Of Home
Please, I beg you, put the ranch down. Step away from the bottled Italian salad dressing. Life is too short to keep these “classics” in your salad rotation.
With vinaigrettes, the options are endless. Even if you don’t want to make your own, explore a few new options in the grocery aisle. For some inspiration, click here for eight easy homemade salad dressing recipes.
We’ve all heard the adage: “We eat with our eyes first.” Pretty food draws us in and triggers the pleasure centers in our brains — you just know it’s going to taste good.
When taking a salad to work, consider the mason jar. The trick here is in the layering: To keep the crunch and vibrancy of vegetables, nuts, and tender greens, first add the dressing to the jar and build up from there. Begin with the sturdiest and heartiest ingredients, and finish with the most delicate and absorbent. Take extra steps and care about how you present your food; it can really add so much to the overall experience.