23 Unique Toppings to Try on Your Next Salad
Though your standard salad may be hard to part with, these 23 unique salad toppings just might do the trick! Typical salads can quickly become overwhelmingly packed with calories but these healthy alternatives will excite your taste buds and will help keep your health goals on track.
One large bowl of salad greens with carrots, cucumber, and some croutons... Though a standard salad is sometimes hard to bargain with, the year is 2016 and food trends are at an all time high! So why not shake up that standard salad? BistroMD is here to inspire you with these 23 unique and healthy salad toppings!
23 Unique, Healthy Salad Toppings
Whole Grains - Skip Out On Fried Croutons
1. Wheat Berries
A wheat berry is an entire wheat kernel - composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Its unrefined form offers significant amounts of fiber and crunch to salad.
This fairly uncommon grain looks similar to wheat berries and offers a slightly chewy texture. The high fiber, protein, and nutrients make farro an underrated, yet appreciated whole grain.
"So nice, they named it twice!" Couscous is actually a pasta created with semolina flour. After tiny grains are formed, they are dried or steamed. Though traditionally added to stews, cooked couscous can be a great way to bulk up salad.
Looking similar to couscous, quinoa has grown in popularity over the past few years. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but offers all essential amino acids, making it a respected plant-based protein and salad topping.
Veggies - Load Up with Even More Nutrients
Replace the salad greens with kohlrabi or throw atop for a crunchy component. Consumed raw or roasted, kohlrabi offers modest amounts of vitamin C and fiber for a low calorie cost.
Radishes are an underrated root vegetable. But generally unlike potatoes and yams, they can be consumed in their raw form. Radishes offer green salads with color (generally red and white), crunch, and a spicy, pungent flavor.
Chopped celery offers bulk and crunch without packing on calories. Since the flavor is quite subtle, its use won't overpower the desired salad taste.
Coleslaw is more than a side paired with barbecued meats! The use of coleslaw has as evolved to top tacos, sandwiches and better yet, a healthy salad topping!
Fruits - Naturally Sweetens Without Refined Sugars
Strawberries and blueberries are not new to the salad scene and blackberries are here to make its appearance! As a salad topping idea, create a spinach salad and top with feta cheese, slivered onions, and blackberries!
The citrus and sweetness of pineapple offers a refreshing taste to salads. As a tip, be sure to use fresh or drained pineapple to reduce soggy leaves and added sugars.
Use mashed, cut into thick chunks, or blended into a dressing. Any form they are added; avocados offer what salad greens can't - a high amount of healthy fat! The creaminess and nutritional content of avocados make them a superior, healthy salad topping.
Meat Proteins - For Meat-Eaters and Lovers
12. Shredded Chicken
Though not newly invited to the salad party, preparing shredded chicken on-hand is a valuable way to increase protein. And since chicken is so versatile, using it will never be an obstacle. Pair with berries and feta, a ranch Greek yogurt dressing (http://www.acouplecooks.com/healthy-greek-yogurt-ranch-dip-recipe-healthy-game-day-snacks/), or other favorite creations!
Though quite unusual, adding chopped jerky onto salad offers protein without the worry of meat reaching into the temperate "danger zone" - temperatures known to increase the risk of foodborne illness. Since jerky comes in all types (beef, chicken, turkey, pork) and flavors (teriyaki, lemon pepper, garlic, sweet and spicy, etc.), varieties are seemingly endless with this unique salad topping.
Vegetarian Proteins - Alternatives to Meat Products
14. Soft-Boiled Egg
If eggs are desired and consumed, soft-boiled eggs are not too far from the typical hardboiled egg crumbles on a salad bar... Unconventionally, create a breakfast salad created with arugula, bacon crumbles, and top with a soft-boiled egg!
Typically enjoyed as a dip, hummus offers healthy fat and protein atop lettuce leaves. Since hummus comes in numerous flavors - Mediterranean, black olive, red pepper, and pine nut just to name a few - this salad topping offers high flexibility.
16. Pinto Beans
These light pink colored and creamy textured beans offer fiber and protein. Typically used in Mexican cuisine, create a guilt-free "naked" burrito - filled with romaine lettuce, pinto beans, bell peppers, onions, avocado slices and top with fresh salsa and cilantro. Half the calories of traditional burritos with full flavor!
Seeds and Nuts - Additional Protein and Healthy Fat Sources
Flaxseeds provide ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a "healthy" fat shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Their delicate, nutty flavor is subtle, making flaxseeds a nutritious add-on without an overwhelming taste.
18. Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds are a highly valuable plant-based protein, as they contain all essential amino acids. These slightly nutty, semi-soft seeds are also loaded with healthy fats and fiber and offer a wide variety of nutrients.
Hazelnuts offer delicacy to salad. To enhance their flavor, roast hazelnuts prior to use. Combine spinach leaves, cubed pear, roasted hazelnut, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a light, yet tasty combination.
High in monounsaturated fat, cashews offer light flavor. Mix salad greens, sliced chicken, mandarin oranges, green onions, cashews, and a drizzle of honey for an oriental-inspired salad dish.
Seasonings - Spice Up Without Sugar and Fat-Laden Dressings
Peppercorns are berry-like crops growing on the pepper vine, also known as Piper nigrum. They offer bolder flavors than standard black pepper when freshly ground. A convenient grinder is commonly found in most commercial peppercorn containers.
This herbed plant is commonly used in Italian cuisine and alternative medicine for a wide variety of ailments. Resembling the taste of licorice, fennel offers a slightly sweet taste and somewhat crunchy texture to salad.
23. BBQ Seasoning
Desiring the barbecue (BBQ) taste but not all the added sugars that come with it? Opt out on heavy BBQ sauce and sprinkle salad with dried BBQ seasoning. A healthified BBQ salad may feature greens, roasted corn, shredded chicken, coleslaw, and BBQ seasoning!