Salads have been given a bad reputation: soggy, brown and unappetizing. Where’s the value of a salad if I have to drown the vegetables in ranch dressing?
However, the Commons staff stocks the salad bar with plenty of options to create the most nutritionally dense salad you have ever eaten.
For the base, start with spinach or a spring mix. Both are loaded with iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. A common rule of thumb is to stick with darker greens, as they tend to have more nutrients than lighter greens. However, mixing romaine and iceberg lettuce is great for added crunch and texture.
The next step is toppings. On most days, the salad bar offers countless choices such as tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and mushrooms. Another great topping is cheese. In one serving (¼ cup), there are about 10 grams of protein and plenty of calcium; however, be aware of how much you add because one serving has about 120 calories.
In addition, protein can turn your side salad into a full meal. A ½ cup of black beans has nearly 20 grams of protein. For meat lovers, four ounces of chicken has 30 grams of protein, while diced ham has 20 grams. Three ounces of tofu has nearly 10 grams of protein.
The last addition to any salad is dressing. Generally speaking, creamier dressings tend to contain more calories and fat, but that doesn’t mean you must avoid them.
If you’re looking for lighter options, the cooler near the cereal has fat free and gluten free dressings. Also, don’t forget about trying oil and vinegar. For those who prefer a little dressing with every bite, start with a vinegar base then add your favorite dressing to that. Make sure to aim for two tablespoons of any dressing.
According to Don Stanwick, Director of Dining Services, not all toppings will be available all the time due to limited space and wanting the freshest ingredients. “We try to put out as much as we can each day but we just don’t have the room each day to do so,” Stanwick said.
However, students can always request specific toppings from Commons supervisors.