No one’s favorite part of a salad is the leaves. We all know that the base of your salad is just there to support the tasty things. You might like iceberg or bib lettuce, spinach, arugula or a mix of spring greens, but the greens are never the star.
On top of the greens, you pile on your favorite veggies for all their healthy vitamins and minerals, as well as the textures and flavors they add. Then you add your protein in the form of meat, cheese or a plant-based option like tofu. Maybe you branch out and add some fruit to your salad as a special flavor pop — many fruits work well in savory salads. And then you get to the toppings. When it comes to dressings, we have written many times about being cautious, reading labels or making your own. Bottled salad dressings are one of the worst offenders regarding hidden sugar, fat and salt. They can be shockingly unhealthy for something you are supposed to add to a nutritious meal!
One thing we haven’t written about is croutons. National Crouton Day is this Saturday. We like bread in all its forms. We especially enjoy it crunchy and seasoned in a salad. But bread isn’t always something you want to eat if you are concerned about your blood sugar. You can make your own croutons at home that are low-carb. Or you can buy low-carb, high-protein versions to add to your salads. However, instead of making or buying low-carb croutons, you can skip them altogether and improve your salad in different ways. There are many options to add an extra tasty crunch to your salad.
Wasabi peas are available in the supermarket in the same area where they sell dried fruit and loose nuts. They have a bit of a spicy kick and a ton of fiber and protein while adding the same crunch as croutons. You won’t miss the croutons; you’ll feel like you’ve elevated your salad. Hulled and salted pumpkin or sunflower seeds are another great option, as they are crunchy and packed with protein and healthy fats. Roasted chickpeas are one we love. They are a lot like wasabi peas but with a different flavor profile. We’ve shared a great recipe for homemade roasted chickpeas in the past.
Nuts are fantastic. Just like seeds, they add healthy fats and protein. Crushed, shaved or whole nuts all bring something different to the table. Plus, while it used to be that you could get nuts plain, salted or honey roasted, they now come in a wide variety of flavors like chili, wasabi, barbecue and more! Of course, when adding something with a high amount of fat, paying attention to serving size is important as the calories can add up fast.
Our final suggestion, which might sound the craziest, is something you already have in your house: add popcorn. It is a low-carb, low-calorie, whole-grain healthy snack that adds a new texture and fiber to your salad. Be sure to add it after your dressing. Soggy popcorn won’t be as wonderful.
With all these options, you won’t be missing out on croutons; you’ll be revolutionizing your salad bowl!