12 Tasty Salad Toppers
Sometimes people think green salad = lettuce =
blah. Not so. The only limits to exciting salads are
limits of the imagination.
Begin with salad
greens. Enhance the eye appeal and nutrition of a
salad by adding colorful fruits and vegetables. Keep
it light by limiting the amount of salad dressing to
about 1 tablespoon per 1 1/2 to 2 cups of greens.
Then make the flavor really POP by adding some of
the following ingredients. You can either put them
on top or mix them in with your salad.
some of these salad additions are higher in fat than
others, just small amounts (about 1 tablespoon) can
give extra flavor without too many calories. Also,
many provide a nutrition boost! Add from one to
three of these flavor accents, depending on how many
other ingredients are in your salad.
Enjoy the tangy taste of sliced
marinated artichoke hearts in your salad. It's as
easy as opening a jar and adding as desired.
If your experience with Parmesan cheese
is limited to shaking it from a can, try using a
vegetable peeler to shave about a tablespoon per
serving from a block of cheese. Or, sprinkle freshly
grated Parmesan on salads. As just a small amount
kicks up the flavor, you may find you can afford
trying some of the more expensive Parmesan cheeses.
Add flavor and bone-building calcium, too!
Add crunch, flavor and fiber with homemade whole
grain croutons. You may want to try the recipe at
the end of this article.
4. Dried fruit:
cherries, cranberries, raisins
Add these dried
fruits for their flavor. Their antioxidants may help
protect against cancer and heart disease.
5. Fresh herbs:
basil, chives, dill, parsley
Toss small basil
leaves or chopped larger ones in with your greens.
Try chopped fresh dill. Add some minced chives or
parsley. Start with about a teaspoon of herbs per
person and adjust according to taste preference.
Herbs boost flavor without increasing calories.
Researchers also are finding many culinary herbs
(both fresh and dried) have antioxidants that may
help protect against such diseases as cancer and
6. Fresh fruit:
apples and pears
Slice apples with their skins
into salads. The skin adds eye appeal and important
dietary fiber, as well. Research shows an apple a
day may indeed help keep the doctor away by helping
reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Some commonly available apples that may be
especially tasty in salads include Braeburn, Fuji,
Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Red
Delicious and Winesap.
The juicy sweetness of
pear slices, skin included, also tastes great in
salads. Pears continue to ripen after they're
picked. To determine if a pear is ripe, gently press
it at the stem end. Most types yield to pressure
To speed the ripening of pears,
put them in a ripening bowl or in a loosely closed
brown paper bag at room temperature. Or, just set
them in a pretty bowl on your counter and enjoy
their appearance as they ripen. Plastic bags don't
work for ripening. Refrigerate when ripe in an open
or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator
crisper drawer. (If you don't have access to
commercial perforated bags, use a sharp object to
make several small holes in a regular plastic bag.)
Store fruits in a refrigerator crisper drawer
separate from the one in which you store vegetables.
Fruits give off ethylene gas which can shorten the
storage life of vegetables. Some vegetables give off
odors that can be absorbed by fruits and affect
7. Olives: black
Add extra oomph with olives. For ease of
eating and to distribute their flavor throughout the
salad, pit and slice olives before placing them in
About a tablespoon of olives per
serving should be sufficient. According to the USDA
National Nutrient Database, a tablespoon of canned
ripe olives provides about 10 calories.
8. Nuts: toasted
almonds and walnuts
Though almonds are a source
of fat and calories, they contain mostly unsaturated
fat that may help protect against heart disease.
They also provide vitamin E, a nutrient that may be
good for your heart. Almonds have about 7 calories
Likewise, the fat in walnuts is
mostly unsaturated. Walnuts also provide
heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A tablespoon or
two of walnuts adds just 50 to 100 calories to a
9. Onions: red
Slip thin slices of sweet red onions into salads.
Sliced oranges juice up the flavor of salads and add
brightness with their sunny color. Plus, they give
you a healthy dose of vitamin C and folate.
Add some vitamin E by tossing a
tablespoon of sunflower seeds per serving into
salads. One tablespoon provides about 50 calories
and mostly unsaturated fat. Toast them for extra
Thinly slice radishes and sprinkle into salads for
their crisp texture and peppery flavor.
the leafy radish tops are attached, remove them
before storing. Radishes don't keep as well if their
tops are left on. Store unwashed radishes in an open
or perforated plastic bag in a refrigerator crisper
drawer that is separate from the one in which you
store fruits. Wash radishes and trim their roots
just before using.
Source: University of Nebraska
Homemade Whole Wheat
Whole grain bread
Olive oil OR
olive oil-flavored/garlic-flavored cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
If using olive oil: Lightly brush top side of bread
with olive oil. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and spread
in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.
If using a
cooking spray: Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes and
spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking
sheet. Spray bread cubes lightly with an olive
oil-flavored or garlic-flavored cooking spray.
2. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10
minutes or until browned and crisp.