You are in front of a salad bar and you are faced with a variety of dressings, toppings, and greens, but you have no idea where to start. You begin to pile on a little bit of everything, and before you know it, a cheese pizza would have been a healthier option than your "salad". As it is already hard enough to choose a salad over burger and fries, here's how to make your salads better and healthier: 

1. Select The Greens

spinach, cabbage, salad, pasture, lettuce, vegetable
Caroline Ingalls

Do NOT use iceberg lettuce unless you plan to make some healthy lettuce tacos. Instead, grab a mix of greens like romaine, spinach, kale, and arugula. You can even add some roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli, or steamed veggies to add some warmth into your salad. 

2. Add The Protein

Grilled Dish With Vegetables on Round White Ceramic Plate · Free Stock Photo

on Pexels

Select either one lean protein or several small portions of protein. Chicken, salmon, eggs, turkey, other poultry or seafood are healthy protein options. Try to avoid red meat or fried foods for your healthy salad. For vegetarians or vegans, use tofu, chickpeas, beans and/or lentils. Whatever it is, use protein to make your salad filling, so you won't be reaching for a pint of ice cream afterwards. 


The hardest part is choosing the toppings. You want to try to get the most nutrition out of your salad because let's be honest, you are not taking the vitamins your mom gave you. Choose one or two ingredients from nuts, seeds, and grains, or fruits, avocado and cheese. Do not choose more than 3 vegetables, and a good rule of thumb is the more colorful, the more nutrients. Also, monitor the portions! Use about 2 tablespoons of each ingredient. 

For example, my favorite toppings in a salad are walnuts or almonds, avocado (of course), feta cheese, carrots, mixed peppers, and onions. 

3. The Infamous Dressing

After passing the toppings stage, you are now at the final battle: the dressing. You have options from caesar, balsamic vinegar, garlic aioli, pink poppy seed, and it gets weirder from there. You have no idea what is in these dressings but somehow once you start pouring, you never stop. 

Go for the low fat dairy options, like greek yogurt or sour cream, or the oil- based vinaigrettes. Also, MONITOR YOUR PORTIONS. Use about two tablespoons of dressing and then stop pouring.


You made it through the salad bar without making a disastrous mess. If you want, add some salt, pepper, a squeeze of lime or lemon, or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to add flavor.

Here is some more evidence that salad can be better than the standard caesar salad:

Salad, lettuce, leaves and bowl HD photo by Taylor Kiser (@foodfaithfit) on Unsplash

Unsplash on Unsplash

If you still need more guidance or topping ideas, click here.