Spruce Up Your Salads!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Did you know that Yuma, Arizona is known as the lettuce capital of the world for a portion of the year? For five months out of each year, Yuma produces approximately 90 percent of the lettuce here in the United States and ships the vegetables all over the United States and Canada. In fact, 1,000 to 1,200 semi-truck loads of product are shipped out daily from Yuma during the peak of the leafy-greens harvest. And, Arizona families get this incredible product too!

This is great news for salad lovers like me because it means that having access to locally-grown lettuce is incredibly easy! Not to mention, salads are the perfect meal when you want something that is light, but still delicious and nutritious! But the toppings that you put on your lettuce are what make or break the healthiness of that salad. Depending on the toppings that you choose, you can either have a complete, balanced meal, or a bowl of lettuce with a lot of unhealthy mix-ins. Below are some dietician-recommended salad topping ideas to spice up your salads and turn them into complete, nutritious meals!

When building a salad to make it a complete meal, it’s important to top it with foods that will provide you with necessary nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. The following toppings are examples of each!

  • Fresh and roasted vegetables
  • Fresh and dried fruit
  • Meats such as pork, beef, chicken, or seafood
  • Cooked whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fresh herbs
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Salsa
  • Oil and vinegar-based dressings

It is so much fun to experiment with different topping combinations, and not to mention, it is an easy way to get a lot of variety in your diet! So, head to your favorite grocery store or farmers market and pick up some Arizona-grown lettuce! Then, head home and build yourself and your family a healthy, nutritious salad using some of the topping ideas above, or some that you thought of yourself!

For more articles on salads, AZ-grown produce, or just on food in general, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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