Creative ways to spruce up your salad

Freshen up your salad

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Grabbing a salad for lunch is an easy way to enjoy a great-tasting, healthy meal, but having a salad day after day can get a little boring. Get out of your salad rut and spruce things up with these creative additions.

quinoa salad

Add a little crunch

Wake up your taste buds by adding a crunchy element to your salad. We're not talking about greasy fried wonton strips, but naturally crunchy ingredients that add both flavor and texture. Our favorite raw vegetables to include in a salad are finely chopped celery, Persian cucumber and water chestnuts. Go nuts and add chopped walnuts and sliced almonds for a protein-packed crunch. If you're craving croutons, try making your own by cubing old bread, misting it with olive oil spray, sprinkling with garlic powder, and baking for three to five minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Pump up the protein

A salad without protein is like a sandwich without the filling. You need the fuel from protein to power through your day. Top your salad with chopped chicken, strips of lunch meat or a scoop of tuna salad. If you're not a meat eater, go for vegetarian protein options like cubed feta or fresh mozzarella cheese, black beans or kidney beans, tofu or hard-boiled eggs.

Check out Mediterranean tuna salad in radicchio bowls >>

Freshen up with herbs

One of the easiest ways to add big flavor to your salad is with the addition of fresh herbs. Basil, chives and tarragon are all tasty additions. If you have oregano and thyme on hand, toss those into the bowl too. Be bold. A variety of herbs adds depth of flavor -- a sure cure for the boring salad syndrome.

Check out these 5 Fresh herbs to grow in your kitchen >>

Go for the grain

If you can't stand the thought of one more forkful of leafy greens, skip the lettuce and use a grain like quinoa or couscous as the base of your salad instead. Mix in ingredients like dried fruit, chopped apples, nuts and cubed Gouda and drizzle with a fruity balsamic vinaigrette. We guarantee it will give you a whole new outlook on salads.

Check out Herbed grains salad recipe >>

Homemade dressing

Making your own dressing is a fun way to make over your usual salad. If you get your dressing out of a bottle, you might be surprised at how easy and delicious homemade salad dressing can be. For a good basic dressing, you'll need balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix equal parts vinegar and oil and add salt and pepper to taste. For more flavor, add a dab of Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of sugar and fresh herbs.

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