How to Turn a Salad into a Balanced Meal

Photo Credit: Pexels / Vanessa Loring

Everyone knows that vegetables are an excellent source for many of our most essential vitamins and minerals, and go hand-in-hand with any healthy diet. But salad has an undeserved reputation for being, well, underwhelming. There’s not much to get excited about when all you have is some chopped greens and a store-bought dressing, which is likely the reason why salad is generally served as a side dish—if it’s served at all.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Think of the last time you treated yourself to a restaurant-quality salad. If you tried one of the salads on the menu, chances are it made you reevaluate everything you thought you knew about serving greens as a main course. How do the chefs work that kind of magic? It turns out, it’s not as miraculous as you might think. It all comes down to including the right ingredients, and giving yourself permission to get creative.

The Perfect Salad, Deconstructed

Yes, a salad can contain healthy servings of all your necessary food groups. And no, it doesn’t  consist entirely of lettuce and veggies. Let’s look at the various layers that should go into crafting textured, inspired, flavorful salads that will wow your family and add exciting new options to your main course menus.

Photo Credit: Godshall’s

Should your salad be fat-free? Actually, no. The fact is that many of the vitamins found in vegetables are fat-soluble, meaning that a healthy source of fat—like meat, cheese, nuts, seeds, or a quarter of an avocado—actually help your body  absorb more nutrients.

Can you put bacon in salad? Absolutely yes. It ticks off three of those essential boxes for building a great salad—it’s a source of protein, a source of fat, and it brings that fabulous crunch factor. For a leaner option, turkey bacon is always an excellent addition.

So you see, the chefs who designed your last memorable salad aren’t working magic. They’re just ensuring their creations feature all the right layers before they’re mixed in order to design a gourmet meal that’s healthy, scrumptious, and fully balanced. This is something anyone can do in their own kitchen, so simply follow these guidelines and make your next salad a masterpiece.

Prepping for you next meal, but don’t know where to start? Check out the must have ingredients every home chef should have in their roster.