Get Your Crunch On!

30 Day Salad Swap Crunch in Salads

We eat with all our senses: taste, sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Some of these may seem obvious, like the way food tastes on your tongue, the aromas that may bring back childhood memories, and the beauty of the food on your plate. The way food feels in your mouth or hands and the sound of food are not as commonly thought of when sitting down to eat a meal, but they too play a role in your desire to eat and enjoyment of food. Think about the slurping sound you make when eating hot soup or the smacking sound when eating sticky peanut butter. And we often crave foods specifically for their texture, like creamy mac and cheese on a cold, rainy day or a crunchy pretzel during the mid-afternoon slump.

Crunchy foods provide a lot of sound and texture, which makes them a stand-out ingredient in some meals, especially salads. But the crunchy salad topping choices at a salad bar aren’t always the best for your waistline: croutons, crispy onions, Chinese noodles, tortilla strips. Next time you’re deciding what to add to your salad, try some of these crunchy salad add-ins instead!

  1. Nuts and seeds – slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts, and peanuts all work well on various types of salads. Just be careful to limit the caramelized nuts, which are made with sweeteners like honey and sugar.
  2. Crunchy vegetables – cucumbers, carrots, radishes (including daikon), fennel, jicama, snap peas, peppers, water chestnuts. Some of these may be staples in your salad, but if they’re not, add them in for some lower-calorie crunch.
  3. Crunchy fruit – sliced apples, Asian pears, fresh grapes, and pomegranate seeds add crunch and sweetness to your salad.
  4. Roasted chickpeas – give you the crunch with some protein and fiber too.

What’s your favorite crunchy salad topping?

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express