18 Healthy Salad Topping Ideas
The creamy dressings and croutons can quickly turn your healthy salad into a splurge. Here's a list of our recommended healthy salad toppings, all bursting with flavor.
1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes: 27 calories, 6 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein
Cherry tomatoes are a beautiful way to add color and nutrients to your salad like vitamins C and A. The lycopene in tomatoes can help lower your risk for stroke and other chronic diseases.
1 cup of raw broccoli: 20 calories, 4 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein
Adding fresh broccoli to your salad is another way to get that crunch you crave without the junk. Broccoli is loaded with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate. It is also high in fiber, which will help keep you full all afternoon. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are even linked to preventing cancer, so whip up an easy broccoli raisin salad.
1/2 cup of beets: 37 calories, 9 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein
Calling all runners! You don’t need to rely on starchy pasta during your training diet. A salad topped with beets may be all you need. Beets have been proven to improve running performance and are chock full of nutrients. We love that beets pair well with fruit, too—check out this berry beet salad.
1 cup of quinoa: 222 calories, 40 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein
Think small salads can’t be filling? Try adding quinoa. This protein-packed seed has a rice-like texture and can be tossed into any side salad or healthy main-dish salad recipe. It is also gluten-free, providing a great grainy substitute for anyone avoiding the big G. Quinoa is also ideal for vegans and vegetarians, because it provides a complete protein source. This strawberry quinoa spinach salad is as filling as it is beautiful.
1 cup of berries: 84 calories, 21 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein
Berries make a delicious salad topper and they have a long list of health benefits. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries have been linked to cancer prevention. Blueberries can help protect against heart disease and possibly even Alzheimer’s. Make a meal out of your salad by adding lean protein with this grilled chicken salad with blueberry vinaigrette.
Half of a fillet of salmon: 280 calories, 13 grams of fat and 39 grams of protein
If you prefer a hearty salad with plenty of meat or protein, consider tossing some grilled salmon on your salad. (We have plenty of salmon recipes for inspiration!) Salmon has just as much protein as chicken or beef, but less saturated fat. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which protects against heart disease. Top your favorite antioxidant-rich greens with a grilled fillet; this balsamic-salmon spinach salad is quick to prepare.
1 ounce of olives: 32 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fat
While it’s best to avoid foods high in saturated fat like bacon or fried chicken as a salad topping, good fats are always welcome. Our bodies need fat to feel satisfied from a meal. Oftentimes when we try to avoid fat, we end up eating too many calories from carbohydrates, which can cause weight gain and other complications. Fill up with this hearty Italian salad.
1/2 of an avocado: 120 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein
If you’re a ranch dressing lover, then avocados might be your new best friend. Avocados provide that creamy texture we crave in salad dressing, but without the empty calories. The fat in avocados has been linked with improving heart disease. It can also help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Try this DIY avocado salad dressing tonight.
1 cup of chickpeas: 286 calories, 54 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are an easy way to add some protein to your salad when you’re dashing out the door to work. Just sprinkle a handful over your garden chickpea salad for improved bone, heart and gut health. Chickpeas can also improve sleep and memory, so try adding them to your weekday lunch to become the office superstar.
1 ounce of pumpkin seeds: 146 calories, 4 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein
Adding seeds to your salad gives it a hearty bite and a serious nutrient bump. Hemp seeds can help lower your cholesterol and provide a source of complete protein. Sunflower seeds are rich in protein, antioxidants and healthy fats. Pumpkin seeds are high in vitamins and minerals and may even help decrease anxiety; try adding roasted pumpkin seeds to a hearty autumn salad with apple slices and butternut squash.
1/5 of a block: 83 calories, 2 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein
Tofu isn’t just for vegetarians. It can help lower your risk for diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It has also been associated with cancer prevention. Tofu can be grilled for a firmer texture or mixed into an eggless egg salad for a flavorful salad topping.
1 cup of chicken: 231 calories, 5 grams of fat and 43 grams of protein
Topping your salad with chicken breast can take it from a boring side to a savory meal. Chicken breast is low in calories while providing tons of protein. Just don’t subject yourself to boring, poached, flavorless chicken. Serve up this chicken chopped salad for a change of pace.
1 ounce of almonds: 169 calories, 5 grams of carbs, 15 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein
If you are usually a crouton addict, change up your crunch with almonds. Eating plenty of nuts like almonds can not only help you live longer, but studies suggest that they can also help decrease belly fat and lower the risk of heart disease. This Chinese spinach-almond salad is seriously satisfying.
1 cup of apple slices: 65 calories and 17 grams of carbs
Add a tart crunch to every bite of your salad with fresh apple slices. They provide a crispness without calorie-rich croutons. Double the satisfying crunch with this apple and walnut salad.
1 veggie burger: 124 calories, 11 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 10 grams of carbs
Need a fill-you-up-until-dinner kind of salad? Top your favorite greens and veggies with a protein-rich veggie burger. Look for veggie burger recipes made from beans for an extra dose of fiber as well. Crumble the burger, slice it or serve it whole.
1/2 cup of black beans: 109 calories, 20 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein
Add a hearty richness to your salad with black beans. They’ll fill you up while bringing a satisfying, creamy texture. Start with a layered garden black bean salad and add colorful vegetables.
1 cup of tuna: 179 calories, 1 gram of fat and 39 grams of protein
So long as your coworkers don’t mind a little fish smell in the office kitchen, canned tuna is a quick way to add flavor and protein to your go-to salad. This herbed tuna and white bean salad makes for a filling lunch or light dinner.
Red Bell Pepper
1 cup of red bell peppers: 46 calories, 9 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein
Red bell peppers add a sweet crunch and extra vitamins to any salad. Try a variety of bell pepper colors for a beautiful presentation. These California burger bowls are sure to stand out at your next barbecue.