36 Ingredients to Get Your Kids Excited About Salad

Poke salad bowl
Todd Beltz/Stocksy United

We’ve all been there with a bowl full of greens, the traditional toppings, and inevitably… boredom. Let’s face it, we all need to eat more veggies, and salads are a great way to add leafy greens and other healthy foods to our diet. But often those boring, traditional salads end up on our tables and then sit in our refrigerators only to die a slow, wilted death.

So, how can we add some pizzazz to our salads and get our kids excited about them too? The key is healthy variety. We’ve all heard that sometimes our salads end up being the most calorie-laden part of the plate when we add too many rich toppings. So, grab a pencil and start a list of your favorite toppings. We’re going to talk about some ingredients that will pack our salads with nutrition instead of fatty calories.

Leafy Greens

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

First up, the foundation of our salads. One of the best ways to add nutrition to your salads is by starting with leafy greens as the foundation of your salad. That iceberg lettuce has about as many vitamins in it as the ice in your water. So focus on the dark, green leafy veggies which are full of vitamins (A, C, and K predominately) as well as antioxidants and other phytochemicals (plant nutrients that aren’t required in the body, but have positive health benefits).

Here are the top five leafy greens to add to your salads:

  1. Spinach
  2. Kale
  3. Romaine lettuce
  4. Arugula
  5. Baby beet greens

Great Grains

You don’t often think of grains in salads, but adding in these cooked grains can pack a lot of nutrition (mainly fiber and B vitamins) into your salad while adding great texture and variety. These next five ingredients are trendy, healthy additions to your leafy greens.

Grains to add to your salad:

  1. Quinoa
  2. Brown rice
  3. Bulgur
  4. Barley
  5. Farro

Protein Punch

Don’t let your salad sit on the side; make it the main event! Adding a lean protein source to your salad is a great way to take this side dish to the center of the plate. These protein sources are sure to make your salad a satisfying, healthy experience.

Lean protein to add to your salad:

  1. Salmon
  2. Chicken (grilled or baked, seasoned)
  3. Shrimp
  4. Boiled eggs
  5. Chick peas
  6. Almonds (sliced, slivered, or whole)
  7. Sunflower seeds
  8. Black beans

Veggie Variety

Wasn’t the point of eating a salad to add in more veggies?! So keep ‘em coming. The possibilities for additional veggies are really endless, but here are a few more ideas that pack in the nutrition. Raw or cooked, diced, or sliced, these veggies pack in flavor and nutrition.

Vegetables to add to your salad:

  1. Avocados
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Corn
  4. Sweet potatoes
  5. Broccoli
  6. Red onions
  7. Cucumbers
  8. Rainbow carrots
  9. Bell peppers
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Olives
  12. Cauliflower

Fun Fruits

Don’t forget the fruit! Fruit is a great addition to a healthy salad. Sometimes adding fruit seems like an odd combination, but it’s really a great way to pack in more variety and nutrition.

Fruit to add to your salad:

  1. Citrus
  2. Apples
  3. Pears
  4. Pomegranates arils
  5. Berries
  6. Dried fruits (craisins, raisins, mangoes)


And what about the dressing? There are plenty of healthy options out there. From fruity vinaigrettes to savory herbed versions of oil and vinegar, the possibilities are just as endless as the salad toppings. Just make sure you’re using moderation. Also, serving the dressing on the side allows you to be more in control of how much ends up on each bite.

Let’s Review

  • Start with some nutrient-packed leafy greens
  • Add in some grains for variety
  • Next pack in the protein
  • Pile on the veggies
  • And last but not least, finish with some fruit!

So, pick a few of your favorites off the list and let your creative juices flow! Your palate will thank you and so will your kids!

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