Ah, the dining hall salad bar. It can seem so boring, especially compared to all of the other options the school provides. At first, I was super discouraged by the salad bar, and I longed for my beloved Sweetgreen and the boujee salad spots I regularly visit at home. But with a few little hacks, you can shape up your salad into something actually enjoyable! Here's how:

Utilize Every Station

I can’t stress this enough: visit every station of the dining hall to build your salad! It can be boring looking at the small collection of raw veggies, but you can easily hit up the grilled to get some chicken to top with, or the vegan section for avocado, hummus, and quinoa. I like to start with a base of green and some raw veggies, and then I hit up the grill or vegan section to get a piece of chicken or veggie burger to put on top of my salad.

Another hack of mine is to go to the DIY wrap counter and ask for plain chicken or turkey breast, and I shred that up on top of my salad. Being from California, I LOVE avocados, and thankfully, they’re always hiding out in the vegan section! By adding the cooked veggies on top, I can give a little contrast to the raw veggies. 

Carina Coestad

Make it Filling

A lot of people don’t go for salads because they claim they don’t fill them up. That can be the case, but only if you’re simply eating veggies! Make sure to balance your plate with proteins, fats, and carbs. Add meat or eggs, and if you’re vegan or vegetarian, try adding beans, edamame, tofu, or a veggie burger. Adding grains and carbs to your salad can also be a great way to bulk it up and make it more filling. 

Sauce it Up

The dressing options aren’t always great, so I’ve gotten accustomed to using hummus or salsa as a dressing. It might sound weird, but it tastes DELISH and adds way more flavor. If you’re trying to be healthy, skip out on the creamy dressings and go for oil and vinegar. Life hack:

#SpoonTip: order your favorite healthy dressing online (I love the ones from Annie’s) and bring it with you. Sure, it’s extra, but it’ll majorly elevate your salad game. 

Carina Coestad

Toppings are Everything

I’m all about packing as much into my salad as possible. I always add things like olives, banana peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes to my salads to add more flavor. If you eat dairy, try adding a little sprinkle of feta on top. Fruit on salad gets a bad rep, but I love adding some grapes or even chopped apples onto mine. 

Carina Coestad

And most importantly, just have fun with it! Trying out new combos and finding your favorite is the perfect way to actually enjoy eating salads. Now, when your parents ask if you've been eating healthy, you can actually say yes.