One of the biggest misconceptions that we hear far too often is that salads are boring. We’re taught to think that a salad means lettuce and ranch dressing. Or that salads are simply a side, never the main meal. And then there’s the misconception that salads are flat out boring! But that could not be more wrong. Not only can salads be incredibly filling and packed with nutrition, but they can also be delicious. But you have to know how to make a salad right. Throw away the idea that a salad is just iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing- this is how you can make a salad that is going to look and taste exciting.

First things first: you need to pick your base. If you like simple iceberg lettuce, go for it. But if you’re willing to experiment, there are so many different types of greens you can use as your base. Kale is full of antioxidants and gives a nice crunch, while spinach is packed with nutrients and low in calorie. There’s also arugula, spring mix, butter lettuce- to name a few.

Then you have to pick your toppings. This is the best part because you can add as many or as little as you want and the choice is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling a Mediterranean salad, go for Kalamata olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes. If you’re want to add some carbs to your salad and make it even more filling, add some sweet potatoes, quinoa, or Brussels sprouts. If you like sweetness on your salad, throw on some dried cranberries, apples, or pears. There are so many options, and the good thing about salads is that pretty much everything will taste good on it.

After your toppings comes everyone’s favorite part: protein. Protein can be chicken, eggs, or salmon- or if you’re vegetarian, tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh. Protein is going to add that filling aspect to your salad that is going to sustain you throughout the day and give you energy. You can even season your protein source to add even more flavor, or leave it plain and let the dressing take over.

After protein comes dressing. The dressing can be way more fun than just ranch or Italian. If you go to your local grocery store, you’ll probably see a whole shelf dedicated only to dressings. There’s Mediterranean dressings, sweet dressings, spicy dressings- anything you want in a dressing form, they probably have. Dressings are what really give your salad a good flavor, and without it, you might just be chewing on dryness. Just be careful you don’t overdo it with the dressing, as that’s often where the calories are.

Looking for a side for your salad? Check out the fun recipes for avocado toast!

After dressings come the last, but not least, part: final toppings. This part is totally optional, but it’s where I like to add any last-minute touches, such as slivered almonds, cilantro, or a squeeze of lemon. This part can pull together your salad and give it that final punch of flavor.

So next time you’re craving something delicious, filling, and healthy- don’t turn down a salad. Just follow this guide and remember: salads can be fun, you just have to make them right.