How to make fantastic salads

Bored with your usual salad repertoire? Try these reader suggestions for interesting’and delicious’salad toppings

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salad

Make salads a treat

Forget the cliche of boring salads covered in too-heavy dressing. Salad should be light, refreshing, and full of flavour-something you look forward to, not something you eat out of a sense of duty.

For tips on making salads sensational, we went to the source-readers like you. Here are some salad ideas submitted to Best Health via Twitter and Facebook. Got a tasty idea of your own? Tell us in the comments and we'll add a slide for you, too.

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olives

The flavour of olives

Megan F. of Ottawa, a member of Best Health's Facebook group, likes olives and sunflower seeds in her salads. Make sure to buy raw sunflower seeds and toast them yourself-watch for extra added oil in the ingredients list.

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oranges

Sweet citrus

@jpfozo offers up a range of favourite salad toppers: Pistachios, almond slices, oranges of all kind, real Parmesan and cucumbers.

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red onion

Flavour combinations

"I love dried cranberry and goat cheese or orange and red onion," says Annie Peloquin of Montreal via Facebook.

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sunflower

Toasted seeds

"I love toasted seeds in salads, particularly pumpkin and sunflower," says @cursivemechanic on Twitter. To toast nuts and seeds, add them raw to a dry frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until they're toasted to your preference-they'll start to turn golden brown and will release a scent.

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feta

Sweet and salty

@angelamurray's favourite ingredients include mixed greens, pecans, grapes, feta and maple balsamic dressing. For the simplest version, simply add a tablespoon of maple syrup to 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and whisk until combined.

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almonds

Go nuts

"I love dried cranberries and goat cheese," says April Shoemaker-Kingsley of Kitchener, Ont. via Facebook. "Pecans or almonds are good too, sliced or slivered. And mandarins always add a bit of sweet flavour."

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strawberries

Go for colour

@lolaaugustine likes roasted pumpkin cubes, strawberries and pepitas. To roast pumpkin or another winter squash for salads, just cut into cubes (1/2 to 1 inch-smaller will cook faster), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400F until tender.

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pears

Fruit and nuts

@marissamakes says she likes walnuts, sliced pears and miso dressing. (Try this miso dressing recipe from allrecipes.ca.)

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apple

Add crunch

"Sunflower seeds, apples and pea sprouts...mmm...very tasty," says Michelle Kellner of Toronto via Facebook.

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grape tomatoes

Too good for dressing

@SarahJD likes a mix of dried cranberries, walnut pieces, grape tomatoes and goat cheese. "It's so tasty," she says, "you don't even need dressing."

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flowers

A floral touch

Seeds, fresh herbs, edible flowers and micro-greens are some of the ingredients @GALaursen likes to use. New to edible flowers? Make sure not to use flowers that may have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. (Get more info at flowerscanada.org.)

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chevre

Best salad ever?

"The best salad I've ever made contains fresh sliced strawberries, warmed goat cheese and spring mix (bitter), drizzled with a raspberry vinagrette," says Martine Quibell of Toronto via Facebook.

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spinach

Vary your greens

Jeck Artates of Toronto told us via Facebook that he likes spinach salad with poppy seed dressing, topped with sunflower seeds, apples, mandarin slices and feta cheese. For variety of flavour and nutrients, vary the greens you choose for your salads; spinach and arugula are usually easy to find, or pick up mixed greens from your farmers' market (or your garden!).

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blueberries

Antioxidant power

@ltorvi likes to top salads with blueberries, sunflower seeds, strawberries and goat cheese. For the most flavour, choose whichever fruits or berries are in season in your region.

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chickpeas

Flavourful nutrition

"I like to add chickpeas, almonds, ground flaxseed, apple, cheeses or capers," says @nav_een.

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sweet potatoes

Variety is best

@henrynatalie likes a variety of toppings: sunflower and sesame seeds, diced apple, unsalted cashews, romano beans, sundried tomatoes and cubed sweet potatoes.

Tell us your favourite salad toppings in the comments, and check out more healthy salad ideas in our collection of soup and salad recipes.