5 Healthy Salad Ingredients That Perk Up Your Meal

Mahdere Tena
By Mahdere Tena May 27, 2014 20:03

5 Healthy Salad Ingredients That Perk Up Your Meal

By Liz Vaccariello
Apr 24, 2014

Liz Vaccariello

Liz Vaccariello

With spring upon us and the weather (finally!) warming up, it’s the perfect time to throw together a light, fresh salad for lunch or dinner. But let’s be real: Your same old five-ingredient salad can feel a little blah after you bring it to work for the third week in a row. So spice up your basic bowl with one of these chef- and nutritionist-approved ingredients:

1. Parsley instead of lettuce

“Too many Americans think of parsley as no more than a garnish. Italians know better. They put it in and on just about everything, and not just a delicate little sprinkle here and there. Parsley is a rich source of many vitamins including B12, K and A. Just a half a cup provides more than half of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C.”
—Sara Moulton, host of “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” on PBS

2. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) on top

salad“Pepitas add a chewy crunch and a delicious, subtly sweet, nutty flavor.  They are rich in magnesium, protein, iron, and zinc, and contain a broad range of phenolic antioxidants, making them helpful in the fight against diabetes and cancer. Pepitas are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fats.”
—Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, registered dietitians, personal trainers, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure

3. Chickpeas as croutons

“[Smoky Chickpea Croutons recipe] has become one of our favorite salads toppings. Chickpeas alone are great on salad, but this version brings them to the next level. It combines the health benefits of the chickpea, the crunch of the crouton without the bread, and the smokiness of bacon without the bad fat! This topping keeps salad gluten free and adds a punch of delicious, smoky, crunchy flavor. It’s three favorite salad toppings rolled into one!”

—Fancy Girl Table, a full-service artisan catering and event design company that focus on local, organic, sustainable menus

Smoky Chickpea Croutons

  • Ingredients:
  • 2  15-ounce cans cooked chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ?2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drain the chickpeas well. Place the chickpeas on double paper towels and with another paper towel blot them dry. Remove any loose skin that may have separated.
  2. When totally dry, and to a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven, stirring occasionally, until very crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool. Add to your favorite salad and store leftovers in an airtight container.

4. Romaine, grilled for flavor

“Romaine is such a typical salad ingredient, but when you grill it, it adds a great depth of flavor to your dish.  It gets charred and a bit tender, and is a great addition to salads.  I like to serve mine with some grilled asparagus and romesco, and top it with a farm egg.”
—Chef Jamie Bisonnette, James Beard nominated chef behind Boston restaurants Coppa and Toro, winner of Food Network’s show “Chopped”

5. Sweet potatoes instead of greens

“Shake up your daily salad routine by substituting traditional greens for sweet potatoes. They are naturally low glycemic and packed with fiber to keep you fuller, longer. One medium sweet potato has almost four times the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), which is important for healthy skin, immune function, and good eye health and vision.  Sweet potatoes are also a good source of antioxidants, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.”
—Mandi Knowles, RD, corporate dietitian at Nutrisystem


Mahdere Tena
By Mahdere Tena May 27, 2014 20:03
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