When people think about salad, they often think of lettuce with maybe a sliced tomato tossed in. But salads can be so much more. In fact, they can be an entire meal by itself.

May is national salad month, so it’s a good time to think about just what could go into a healthy salad. First, decide on the base of your salad. Iceberg lettuce may be the most popular variety in the U.S., but we recommend that you choose another variety instead. In terms of taste and nutritional value, iceberg lettuce is at the bottom of the ladder, and you’ll find that things like romaine and spinach are not only better for you, but they a lot more flavor too.

As a tasty alternative, you can take a cue from the Europeans and build up salads using ingredients like tomatoes or bell peppers at the base; good salads don’t necessarily need to incorporate lettuce at all! And they don’t have to be complicated, either. One of the salads that we like best is one that’s simply sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, topped with fresh basil and a bit of olive oil. It’s quick, easy and tastes great!

Once you’ve decided on the base, add some protein. You can do this in a variety of ways, so think about what sounds best to you. While shredded ham or roasted chicken are great ways to get started when it comes to adding protein to your food, don’t forget things like eggs, crab meat, tofu, or even ground beef. You can even use meat that has been seasoned during cooking. We love making a “Tex-mex” salad by adding ground beef that’s been cooked with taco seasoning. Or, chicken that’s been cooked with a teriyaki sauce can give your meal an Oriental flair.

Finally, add a dressing. Here’s where you need to be careful, though. Many dressings are loaded with fat and calories. It does help to create a healthy, flavorful salad and then smother it with creamy, high calorie blue cheese dressing. Instead, try a light oil and vinegar dressing, or if you really want to go healthy, try just squeezing a fresh lemon or fresh lime over your salad. Once you get going, you’ll find that there is no end to the combinations you can create. And, as long as you pay attention to the dressing, salads can be very healthy.

So, the next time you’re looking for something different to fix for dinner, try salad as a main course. You might even try a salad bar, so that each member of your family can pile on the ingredients they like the most!

Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
You might also want to read: Introduce Your Kids to Growing Their Own Food, Healthy Eating: It’s NOT About Willpower Alone, Picky Eaters: What You May Not Know

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