These healthy salad bar ideas, with all the varying ingredients you can try, come together and taste like a dance party in your mouth. They're so full of flavor and you can just taste the nutrition! There are many different ideas, so I'll list all the options I can think of for you to choose from, and bolded to make it easier for you skimmers.
If you know of others ingredients you like or have more healthy salad bar ideas that I forgot, be sure to comment below. 🙂
Healthy Salad Bar Ideas:
- Always start with the best greens you can find. I never use iceberg, the darker greens have more nutrients. I always choose organic, as salad greens are often highly sprayed with chemicals. I love it when I can get local organic lettuce at our farm market in the summer – I'll usually choose a couple of different varieties for more flavor and nutrients. In the winter I'll use the organic greens from the grocery store.
- Fresh fruits in season are always delicious: apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries…
- Other fruits that are never in season near us, but I'll use them at times: mangos, orange slices, grapes, pineapple.
- I'll often mix in organic dried fruits like dried cherries or dried cranberries, especially in the winter.
- I love something crisp in my salad, so I almost always toss in some Crispy pecans or almonds. (If I don't have any crispy nuts made, I'll throw some pecans or almonds on the cookie sheet with the next item…) Or try these candied pecans (or almonds or walnuts)! Also, try these rosemary walnuts.
- To add even more crisp, some people use just the noodles from those Ramen packages. Even though they took the trans fats out of the Ramen noodles a while ago, I found something similar at the store with an ingredient label that I still liked better. I tried it today for the first time, it was a delicious crunch! It's in a package a little bigger than the Ramen noodles, it says on it, “Sapporo Ichiban” and “Kitsune” (I can't figure out which is the brand name and which is the food name!) and “Japanese style noodles with fried bean curd and soup base.” That screams of MSG, so when you open it, immediately toss out that soy cracker thing and the packet of MSG…”flavorings”, then crumble the noodles onto a buttered cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Now you can either put them in the oven on 350*, then forget to set the timer and burn them every time like I do, or you can keep the oven lower, at about 250* or so, and keep setting the timer over and over for what seems like 10 times (in fear of burning another batch) until they're golden brown. Here's where I start sampling and can't stop…
- Or try this: make homemade croutons from the bread ends that no one around here wants to eat! It's so easy: cut bread into cubes, toss in plenty of melted butter (and some herbs or garlic powder if you'd like), spread out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350* until they're crisp. You'll need to keep checking it and the smaller ones will be done first. Once cool, I put them into a baggie and keep in the freezer to grab them anytime.
- Fresh veggies in season: chopped cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, green onion, regular onion, chives, whatever you like. If I have cabbage, broccoli, or celery in the fridge I'll chop that small and add it, too.
- Lately I love freshly grated parmesan cheese on everything, especially my salads! Others like cheddar, feta, or goat cheese is always good!
- Sliced hard-boiled eggs are another delicious and healthy option. Read at this post how EASY it is to peel hard-boil eggs in cooked the pressure cooker — look at this picture of how the shells start to fall off before I even touch them:
- I don't like mushrooms on a salad, but you might…
- Different meats like: Cooked & crumbled bacon — use nitrate-free bacon from pastured pork and from a local farm if possible, or any other type of meat like shredded seasoned chicken or beef, shrimp, etc. If you have any leftover meat in the fridge, that's nice and easy to throw in there. (You may want to check out the comments at this post about healthy hot dogs to read about a new twist on the topic nitrates.)
- Anything goes when it comes to healthy salad bar ideas! Experiment and let us know in the comments if you find something new and yummy.
Homemade Salad Dressings
There are many great homemade salad dressing recipes out there and they really are simple, just throw ingredients in and stir! Here are three of my favorites. Keep in mind, amounts may not be exact, I often play around with the recipe and taste-test to get it just right.
- Berry Vinaigrette: mix together 2 heaping T. of jam (preferably organic or homemade so it has no high fructose corn syrup), 1/2 c. virgin olive oil, 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1 T. poppy seeds. Makes over a cup of dressing. (Approximately)
- Garlic Vinaigrette: (Warning: this has a really strong garlic flavor that I love, but Kent can't stand it!) 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup sugar (organic cane sugar), 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 Tablespoon mustard seed. (For this one serve it with lettuce, grapes, bacon, cucumbers, parmesan & almonds – it's SO good, even though it doesn't sound like it would be!)
- Raspberry Vinaigrette: (A variation from #1) 1 c. olive oil, 3/4 c. raspberry vinegar, 1 t. sea salt, 1/2 c. sugar (I use organic cane sugar, or you could use local honey.)
- Easy Citrus Dressing: If I'm in a hurry, I'll make this super easy dressing for my salad-on-the-go. Squeeze lime (or lemon) juice over your salad along with the juice from one can of pineapple bits — make sure you get the kind with ONLY pineapple. Drizzle a little olive oil or sesame oil over the top. (I think sesame oil has a milder flavor.) I also add a dash or two of sea salt.
- Homemade ranch salad dressing or ranch veggie dip
- Creamy Lime Dressing (for a yummy cucumber tomato salad, or for any lettuce salad!)
- Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing Copycat Recipe!
Now just mix and match whichever ingredients and dressings above you think your family will like – enjoy!
- More salad recipes and dressings are here in my salad index!
- Check out Kristen's Simply Salads by Season e-book!
More posts you may have missed:
- Read all the ways the Bosch makes my life easier!
- Support from your spouse in the kitchen
- What kind of milk should you buy?
What healthy salad bar ideas did I miss?