These salad topping ideas are a tasty way to add flavor to any salad and make salads even more nutrient-rich. The salad topping ideas are also healthy and easy to put together.
They can be meal prepped in advance and lasts for a few weeks at a time.
The base of my salads is pretty much the same because I love veggies so the way I change my salad recipes up is with the herbs and salad toppings.
The salad base is usually a mix of leafy greens – red or green cabbage, lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard, etc.
I’m always mixing and matching different ingredients to find out what works best with what type of dressings so I have a broad list of salad toppings in my rotation.
There are hundreds of variations of salad toppings and whichever one you choose depends on your taste buds and availability locally.
Healthy Salad Toppings for Weight Loss
Not all salad toppings are created equal. Some of them can turn a healthy salad into a high-calorie bomb that will sink your fitness goals.
I keep that info in mind when I’m meal-prepping salad toppings every week.
To keep your salad toppings healthy for proper weight loss without compromising flavor, you should:-
- Avoid processed toppings like bacon, cold cuts, etc.
- Prepare your own dressings at home. Store-bought dressings are full of sugars, corn syrup, and preservatives and frankly don’t taste as good as homemade dressings.
- Skip salt as much as possible and flavor with herbs and the dressing.
- Don’t overload on salad toppings. They should complement the dish not become the main star.
- Breaded, crusty, battered, etc crispy protein can be a calorie bomb. When preparing protein for salads, a simple marinade followed by grilling, baking, or pan-searing is enough. You could poach too but I find the taste quite bland. Do not, however, fry protein for salads.
- Don’t use mayonnaise in your dressings. Mayo is loaded with fat, salt, and funeral plans for your diet. Plain yogurt and seed butter are healthier and add creaminess if you crave that.
61 Delicious Salad Topping Ideas
These salad topping ideas also work if putting together a salad bar for a get-together at home.
Protein Salad Toppings
The usual protein salad toppings include poultry, beef, seafood, and shrimp but some people don’t eat animal products so what would be a great alternative.
Below are alternative salad topping ideas you can use instead of chicken or meat:-
- Nuts – almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, chia seeds, and peanuts. Toast them for an elevated taste. Do not add salt to toasted nuts.
- Beans – white beans, black beans, and brown beans add more fiber and extra texture and flavor
- Hard-boiled eggs – 1 egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein. Chop and add to a salad or eat it on the side.
- Chickpeas – 1 cup of chickpeas provides over 14 grams of protein. Roast for a bit of crunch.
- Quinoa – Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids for the body and adds extra fiber and additional flavor to a salad without overwhelming the taste. A cup also contains 8 grams of protein. Quinoa is also gluten-free. Other grains you can add as salad topping includes couscous, farro, barley, amaranth, and brown rice.
- Lentils – 1 cup of lentils contains approximately 18 grams of protein plus is high in fiber.
- Seaweed – 1 tablespoon of seaweed is less than 2 calories and a cup contains up to 9 grams of protein depending on seaweed variety.
- Tofu – excellent source of plant protein. 1/2 cup of tofu contains 20 grams of protein approx.
- Edamame – another excellent source of plant protein. 1 cup of edamame contains 17 grams of protein approx.
- Tempeh – more plant protein. 1 cup of tempeh contains 33 grams of protein.
- Hard cheese – hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda, parmesan, and manchego add a good dose of protein to salads. Hard cheeses can be shredded with this handy box grater.
- Soft cheese – soft cheeses add a creamy texture to salads and contain protein and calcium. These include feta, goat cheese, mozzarella, cotija and burrata.
Seeds for Salad Topping
Seeds add protein to salads in addition to fiber and several vitamins. Some of the best seeds for salad topping include:-
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Celery seeds
- Caraway seeds
Roast or toast your seeds for an extra something-something in your salads. Always buy raw unsalted seeds.
Roasted seeds have a high-fat content so keep at 1 – 2 tablespoons per serving.
Herbs for Salad Topping
I love herbs on salads so much. They add robust flavor and loads of fragrance. There are 10 herbs that are great as salad topping:-
- Parsley – flat leaf and curly
Fresh herbs are low in calories and provide a great source of vitamins A, C, K iron, folates, and aid indigestion.
You can use fresh or dried herbs but fresh herbs make salads taste so much better.
Berries for Salad Topping
I’m not great at topping my salads with berries because I don’t like sweet salads but if you love berries, drop 1 – 2 tablespoons of any of the berries below into your salad.
You can also make a berry salad with limited greens for change up.
These are the most common berries added to salads but you can add less popular berries like acai berries, boysenberry, blackcurrant, and red currant.
Fruits for Salad Topping
- Mandarin oranges
- Cherry tomatoes
Fresh fruits are much better than dried fruits. Dried fruits become calorie-dense when dehydrated plus they contain added oils and sugars. And definitely avoid dried and candied fruits.
Edible Flowers for Salad Topping
Edible flowers are colorful and turn your salad into a beautiful work of art. Some of the common edible flowers added to salad include:-
- Calendula flowers
- Borage flowers
More Salad Topping Ideas
- Avocados – contains heart-healthy fats and loads of monounsaturated fat, fiber, potassium, vitamins C and K, and folate. Add a few slices to your salad.
- Beets – make beets fun by spiralizing for your salad.
- Olives – loaded with flavor and heart-healthy fats. Avoid if you’re on a low or no-salt diet.
- Bell peppers – another source of crunch for your salads plus extra vitamins. My favorite is red bell peppers but add green and yellow as well for a bit of color.
- Scallions – aka spring onion. Scallions have a milder taste than onions with a cup of scallions coming to only 32 calories.
Crunchy Salad Topping Ideas
- Crispy shallots – an essential part of Asian cuisine as a garnish. You can usually find this in the Asian or international food section of grocery stores. You can also find it online. Maesri Fried Shallots are the best brand. Restrict to 1 – 2 teaspoons per serving.
- Crispy garlic – another essential part of Asian cuisine. If you love the taste of garlic in dressings, you’ll love Maesri Fried Garlic.
- Crunchy noodles – these Asian-style crunchy noodles are great for an extra bit of crunch. They can be a replacement for croutons and tortilla strips in a salad.
- Crispy rice noodles – these are puffed rice sticks. You can make them at home with vermicelli rice noodles and keep them in the fridge for use. I will share a recipe for this shortly.
Though these crunchy salad topping ideas are delicious, they are fried so you should restrict them to no more than 1 – 2 tablespoons per serving.
If you’re topping with toasted nuts and seeds which are also crunchy, I’d skip these altogether.
Healthy Salad Dressings
The dressing is the final piece in a salad and there are hundreds of combinations you can try.
A basic healthy dressing recipe comprises of:-
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
This is a basic vinegarette that works for most kinds of salads. For a creamier dressing, you can add 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or seed butter.
I will share my top 5 healthy salad dressings and salad recipes in future articles.
Keep in mind, even though all these salad topping ideas are healthy, they should still be consumed in moderation.
There are more than enough suggestions above to always have something different in your salad rotation every week.
With these salad topping ideas, you can even eat a salad every day and not get sick of it. I haven’t so far.
All nutrition information from Nutritionix.
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