6 Smart Ways to Step Up Your Salad Game

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How to Create a More Satisfying Salad

Fresh Vegetable On Vintage Garden Table
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Side salads are so 2014. I like eating a large salad for lunch or dinner. The problem? Some salads are just boring. You might even try too hard to combat that boredom by piling on high-fat toppings or dressings. (Sure, your salad won't be boring anymore, but it’ll be so high in calories you might as well eat a cheeseburger!) Here are some tips for creating a healthy salad you'll truly crave.

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When Leafy Met Scoopy

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Scoopy Salads
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One way to make a salad more satisfying? Make it big. A way to make it really big? Combine two salads into one. No, I'm not suggesting you layer a Cobb salad over a Caesar salad. I'm talking about topping a bed of chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce with a scoopable, deli-style salad. Your meal will have the creamy tastiness of the scoopy salad with the filling aspect of the leafy greens. Plus, no need for dressing! But don't hit the deli for that scoopable salad. Those are often loaded with fat. Make your own scoopy salad with reduced-fat condiments and lean meats or seafood. 

Tip: Add some crunch to balance out the creaminess. Use naturally crisp, low-calorie veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and jicama.

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Turn Last Night's Dinner into Today's Lunch

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Leftovers
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Another great way to make a salad that’s not a snoozefest? Incorporate another meal you love! You’d be surprised at how good leftovers taste when they’re tossed into a salad. If you made meatloaf, crumble it up, and use it as the protein on your salad. Or add fajita veggies 'n chicken to your greens — creative and thrifty!

You can also use your favorite recipes as inspiration: cheeseburger salad, taco salad, and salads inspired by beef teriyaki and Hawaiian pizza.

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Get Colorful

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Get Colorful
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Challenge yourself to use as many colors in the produce section as possible. The more you use, the more nutritious your salad will be, and the bigger it will be! Another plus is that seeking out colors will lead you to new fruits and veggies: beets, yellow squash, purple cabbage, mandarin oranges, blueberries, pomegranate seeds. Have fun! 
 

Tip: For added protein, think white. Hard-boiled egg whites are fantastic in salads.

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Swap Out the Dressing

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Swap Out Dressing
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Even light dressing can add a lot of calories to your salad, if you're not careful. The serving size listed on most bottles is 2 tablespoons, but that's a pretty small amount, especially if you like mega-sized salads like I do. That's why I like to use fun low-calorie alternatives. Drizzle your greens with flavored vinegars: both balsamic and seasoned rice vinegars are often available in tasty fruity flavors. Another option? Salsa! So much yum, and there are tons of options on shelves: mild, spicy, Southwest — even pineapple.

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Up the Crunch Factor

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Crunch Factor
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If you can’t hear yourself eating your salad, you're doing it wrong. Low-calorie crispy add-ins will make your salad 62 percent more satisfying and fun. Plus, getting creative with your crunch will help you avoid the dreaded crouton. I love broccoli cole slaw — use it as a base, or mix it with the lettuce. Other low-cal crunchies? Apples, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas. I've even been known to use high-fiber bran cereal as a swap for fried noodles and crushed baked tortilla chips instead of fried tortilla strips. 

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Ban the Stuff You Hate, and Get Creative

Hungry Girl Salad Idea: Get Creative
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Your salad's not the boss of you! If you avoid salads because you hate spinach, replace it with chopped romaine. If you can’t bring yourself to hop on the kale bandwagon, don’t add kale. Do you think that house-salad staples, like tomatoes and shredded carrots, are played out? Try something new. Toss in some roasted Brussels sprouts, steamed bok choy, or freeze-dried edamame.

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