Salads don't have to be boring!

Author: Calgary Weight Management Centre |

Blog by Calgary Weight Management Centre

Use our simple formula to build salads that get you excited about bringing your lunch to work again!

So often, I hear my clients say they HATE eating salads. "It's boring." ... "I feel like I'm a rabbit." ... "Salads remind me of being on a diet."

Sound familiar? If so, your go-to salad probably requires a much-needed makeover. When we create salads that taste and feel different, we get excited about them again. It is also important to make sure your salad is physically satisfying too, otherwise, the belief that 'Salad's Don't Satisfy (aka - they are a DIET FOOD), will be reinforced. Filling up on leafy greens and adding a few juicy gems will boost the calories, overall nutrient variety, and most importantly, the flavor to your salad! This week, when doing your menu planning, build yourself a salad that gets you pumped again! Here is our formula:

Go Green

Dark leafy greens are one of our best sources of Vitamin K. Choose one and don't forget to mix it up. If you're like my dad and like CRUNCH in your salad, get this by adding fruits or nuts, not icebergs.

  • Spring greens mix
  • Spinach
  • Spinach-Arugula mix
  • Powerhouse greens mix
  • Or any other greens mix that grabs your attention

Add Colour

Don't make nutrition more confusing or complex than it needs to be! Colour is a great indicator of nutrient variety. If your salad only has green, it is lacking nutrients it could be higher in. My rule-of-thumb for salads is that it MUST have 3 or more colors.

  • White: onions, mushrooms, garlic
  • Brown: mushrooms
  • Red: tomatoes, bell peppers, raspberries, strawberries
  • Green: leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus
  • Yellow: bell peppers, squash
  • Blue/Purple: blueberries, blackberries, eggplant

Pick Your Protein Option

When having a salad (or any meal for that matter), protein is KING. This is what helps us feel and stay satisfied from one meal time to the next, prevents overeating, and reduces cravings later in the day. Choose one and make sure you get at least 1 full serving: 3 oz = 90 grams = 3/4 cup

  • Keep it lean - Sliced chicken, turkey breast, or leftover chicken or turkey sausage
  • Make-Ahead - 2 Hard-boiled eggs
  • Omega 3 Rich - Canned tuna or baked, smoked or candied salmon
  • Go Vegetarian - chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, bean-medley
  • Iron Powerhouse - sliced tenderloin steak or leftover extra-lean ground sirloin

Boost Your Calcium

Did you know that over 50% of North Americans don't consume enough calcium? Boost this bone-building mineral in your diet by adding a high source to your salad.

  • Dry cottage cheese curds
  • Light feta, ricotta, Parmesan, or soft goat
  • Broccoli
  • Dry-roasted almonds

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

When a salad is the "main dish," having a fruit in it can make all the difference. Not only does it add more color, nutrients, fibre, and flavour to the salad, it will also help curb your after-meal sweet craving. I enjoy having a variety of fruit in my salad (typically 1 from each of the bullets below, but it is important to not over eat fruit too! To "have your cake and eat it too," try cutting up 1 piece of fruit and mixing it in a container with some berries and dried fruit. Keep this as your "salad mix" for the week and add about a 1/2 cup total of all 3 varieties to your salad. Your taste buds and waistline will thank you!

  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate
  • Apples, pears, grapes, pineapple, oranges
  • Dried fruit - cranberries, raisins, blueberries, cherries

Be Mindful of Healthy Fats

Just like fruit, we can eat "too much of a good thing" when it comes to healthy fats in the diet. It is important to not become calorie focused but we do need to be calorie aware (a great topic for a future blog post!). Your salad should have at least 1 healthy fat present, so choose one of these suggestions below, vary your selection to keep it interesting, and be conscious of your overall portion size.

  • Oil - olive, walnut, avocado (1 serving = 1 tsp)
  • Avocado or guacamole (1 serving = 1/4 avocado or 2 Tbsp. guac.)
  • Hummus (1 serving = 2 Tbsp.)
  • Nuts (1 serving = 6 nuts)
  • Seeds (1 serving = 1 Tbsp.)

Add Your Twist

Ok, this is where you can really have fun with your salad and become the lunchroom envy of everyone that has boring salads in front of them! Add one or more of these fun twists to create a salad that is going to feel, taste, and look different from all other salads! My salad twist is often inspired by what I have extra (leftover) in the fridge, such as last night's sauteed or grilled vegetables!

  • Pickled vegetables
  • Sliced Beets
  • Leftover sautéed vegetables
  • Salsa
  • Candied nuts
  • Cooked grain salad

Ethnic Spin

Add new flavors to your salad by simply changing the herbs and spices you use to season your protein, vegetables, or sauces. Here are a few ideas for you to try.

  • Greek/Mediterranean
  • East Indian
  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • Moroccan/African
  • Middle East
  • Asian

I hope these ideas inspire you to get excited about your salad again and make you the Talk of the Staff Lunch Room! I would love to hear what combinations you create in the comments below!

- Stefanie Copple, Registered Dietitian



Weight Management Doctors, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Psychologist

Serving clients from across Alberta, including Calgary, Airdrie, Okotoks, Chestermere, High River, Langdon, Cochrane, Strathmore and other surrounding areas.