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Build a healthy salad

Make Better Salads

As simple as salads seem, sometimes when you make them yourself, they just don’t taste as good as restaurant salads. It’s not you, but it might be your technique. Here are some tips and tricks to perfect your healthy salad-making skills.

  • Always Use Fresh, In-Season Ingredients
    Produce always tastes best at the peak of freshness, which is why a quick trip to the farmer’s market could yield a great batch of salad ingredients.
  • Use A Salad Spinner
    Be sure to wash your greens and get them as dry as possible before starting your salad (the dressing will stick better). The paper towel method can be tedious and time-consuming, but a salad spinner is designed to effectively and efficiently dry your leaves. If you don’t have one already, you may want to consider investing in one.
  • Get Creative With Ingredients
    Lettuce doesn’t always have to be the base of your salad. Get creative and try quinoa or farro or even shredded carrots. In addition, you can change up your toppings. For example, you can try nuts or seeds or roasted veggies. Experiment with ingredients that you like and you just might discover your new favorite salad.
  • Add More Flavor
    Try adding fresh herbs into your salad base or squeeze some fresh lime or lemon juice over the top. And if you like spice, you can try fresh cracked pepper or something bolder like your favorite hot sauce. The possibilities are endless.
  • Balance Textures
    As with most other meals, you want to balance soft and creamy ingredients (ex. avocado, goat cheese) with something crunchy (ex. nuts, croutons). The contrasting textures often work well together.
  • Consider Your Protein
    Before adding your protein, think about the flavors that will complement what you already have. Rather than sticking to safe choices (shredded rotisserie chicken, unseasoned baked chicken), marinate your meat in spices/sauces that will work with your salad.
  • Add Cheese Just Before Eating
    If you’re adding cheese to your salad, be sure to shred or shave it just before you are about to eat. Pre-shredded cheese often dries out easier and loses flavor. By shaving or shredding your cheese just before your meal, you retain the moisture and flavor for a better tasting salad.
  • Want Creamier Salad Dressing?
    Sometimes your store-bought or home-made dressings can be a little on the thin side, causing it to simply slip right off your salad ingredients. When this happens, an easy way to thicken it up is to add some fat-free Greek yogurt. This will also give your dressing a creamier consistency without adding too many calories.
  • Dress Wisely
    While on the topics of dressings, be mindful of your dressing portions. Too much or too little dressing can really mess up a salad. It’s best to err on the lighter side since you can always add more dressing as needed, but you can’t take it away.

If you don’t want to make your salad at home, come on down to the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli! With our Mixed Greens salad, you choose the toppings and we do the work. Visit www.BrickMarketDeli.com for more information on our menu or call 909-596-5225 if you have any questions. You can also stay up-to-date by following us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Spruce Up Your Salads

Commonly associated as “diet food,” salads are often shunned and overgeneralized as “boring” or “bland.” People assume that they sacrifice flavor for lower calories, but that is not always the case. There are many ways that salads can shine. Find out what salad mistakes you may be making and ways to make your salads better.

Try Something New
If your default salad base is iceberg lettuce, you should start to think outside of the box (unless, of course, you’re making a wedge salad). Now that spring is here, your local farmers’ market will likely have new seasonal leafy greens, such as dandelion greens, microgreens, baby kale, chicory, or escarole. Try something new and delight in the new flavors and textures you discover.

Dry Those Greens
Soggy salads are not ideal and are often the result of improperly dried greens. Investing in a salad spinner or the like can really perk up your salads. Or you can go the DIY route – line a plastic shopping bag with paper towels, throw your washed greens in, tie a knot, and then spin that bag in the air a few times. Your greens should mostly be dry and then you may proceed.

Season Before Dressing
If you’re only using dressing to flavor your salad, you’re missing out. After drying your greens, be sure to season them with salt and pepper. This adds another layer of flavor and may keep you from over-seasoning your dressing or overdressing your salad later.

Dress To Impress
Like pairing wine with food, you must properly pair your dressing with your greens. You want to match the bold with the bold and the light with the light. For example, mild arugula would be better paired with a simple lemon dressing rather than a bold and creamy Caesar dressing, whereas kale can handle a rich dressing and may overpower a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Aside from finding flavors that work together, you want to balance the dressing-to-salad ratio. Overdressing leads to sogginess while underdressing will make your salad feel incomplete. To prevent this, add dressing little by little and taste it as you go.

Use Your Hands
Toss those salad tongs and dig in with your (clean) hands. Using your hands to toss allows air to get into your mix and evenly incorporates your ingredients. Tip: Drizzle your dressing along the walls of your bowl and then lightly toss your greens until the dressing is evenly distributed. This helps to avoid bruised or crushed leaves, too!

Timing Is Everything
Instead of tossing it all together at the same time, timing your ingredients can help to keep your salad fresh and delicious. Adding a portion of heavy ingredients (such as nuts, seeds, tomatoes, or peas) in for the toss allows for better distribution. Adding the rest as a topping at the end allows your guests to see everything that is in the salad and get a little bit of everything.

In addition, you will want to dress your greens before adding any herbs. This assures that the herb flavor will stand out as an outer layer.

Have you made any tragic salad mistakes? Have other salad wisdom to impart? Share your stories and advice with us on Facebook, Google+, Twittter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Let us make your favorite salads and sandwiches for you! Visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli, located on the northeastern corner of Garey Ave & E Arrow Hwy, weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.

Salad Making Tips

Salads are a great way to introduce more protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients into your diet. They are also a smart option if you have resolved to eat more vegetables or are looking to improve your diet. Unfortunately, not all salads are created equal. You should be mindful of salad ingredients and portion sizes, whether you’re dining at a restaurant or making a salad at home. To enjoy healthier and tastier salads, heed these helpful salad tips.

Greens

  • Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula) offer a more nutritious mix. If you prefer a different lettuce, try mixing them together. Nutrition is important, but you also want to make a salad that you will enjoy.
  • Most grocery stores sell ready-made mixed greens, but it’s easy to DIY as well. Keep textures and flavors in mind when creating your own mix. For example, romaine and iceberg are better choices for crunch than spinach or arugula. Also, watercress and arugula will add a peppery flavor in contrast to the mildness of Bibb lettuce or simple green leaf lettuce.
  • Seasoning your greens can really enhance your salad. Just because you are not technically cooking with them doesn’t mean your greens won’t benefit from a little salt and pepper.
  • Lettuce doesn’t have to be the star of every salad. Get creative and use other vegetables, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, or cooked grains as a base or addition. Just remember to keep portion sizes in mind.

Toppings

  • Load up on veggies – the more colorful the better. Add as much or as many types of undressed produce as you’d like, but be sure to watch for high-calorie items (such as olives, avocados, potatoes).
  • Pick a lean protein (chicken breast, tofu, chickpeas, hardboiled egg, grilled fish), which will help to increase satiety.
  • Your body has an easier time absorbing some of the nutrients in vegetables when they’re eaten with oil, avocado, nuts, or some other type of healthy fat.
  • If you’re craving a treat (bacon bits, croutons, cheese) go ahead and pick one, but sprinkle lightly.
  • Salads are perfect for adding whatever herbs you may have, but you can also use the leafier herbs (cilantro, parsley) as a green. For example, cilantro works perfectly in a taco salad, basil for a tomato-mozzarella salad, or mint in a feta-olive salad.
  • Prep your ingredients into easy, bite-sized pieces. It may take a bit more time, but it will be much more convenient when you are finally eating the salad. Also, with smaller pieces, you can pick up more on your fork, making for an interesting bite every time.

Dressing

  • Aim for no more than about 2 tablespoons of salad dressing. Dressing is often the biggest contributor of calories, sodium, and fats in a salad. Also, oil & vinegar is better option than a creamy dressing.
  • If you can, make the salad dressing. The classic ratio for homemade vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar (you can add more vinegar if you like your dressing more acidic). You can also mix and match with lots of ingredients (mustard, chili flakes, shallots, herbs).
  • To avoid a wilted salad, try dressing the salad just before you eat. Start with a little bit at a time as salads can go from dry to overdressed very quickly. And by dressing the salad beforehand, you allow the dressing to be evenly distributed.

Share your own salad tips with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona for our yummy sandwiches or build your own mixed greens salad. We are open weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.