What I did get at the cafeteria

Today's yummy salad

Today's yummy salad

Here’s a shot of today’s delicious salad. Aside from the standard heap of baby spinach, it contains the following.

1. Two small slices of grilled chicken
2. Half of a hard-boiled egg
3. A teaspoon or two of bleu cheese
4. A teaspoon or two of walnuts
5. Tomatoes
6. Olive oil
7. Blueberries
8. Beans (green, waxed, purple)

I’m showing you this because it occurred to me that I’ve come a long way in learning to enjoy salads over the years, and my techniques might prove useful to those of you who feel the way I used to about those yucky greens and vegetables.

Throughout my entire childhood I rarely ate vegetables, and never ate them raw. I’d eat boiled carrots, broccoli or peas, but only if there was butter involved. I never ate anything remotely resembling a salad because I despised every one of the constituents, and my parents never forced me.

In high school Health class we did a nutrition project, and I discovered that I had almost no vitamin A in my diet! It took me until after college to actually do anything about it.

When I started training myself to like salad, I literally could not choke down any of it without some sort of “dressing”. The problem was that conventional salad dressing always nauseated me. So I started going to Ponderosa, ordering the salad bar, and smothering my raw vegetables in apple sauce, pineapple chunks and cottage cheese. With enough masking, I could choke it down.

It took me a couple of years, but I gradually decreased the dressing-to-salad ratio until I was capable of chewing and swallowing unadorned raw vegetables. It was an interesting time: I remember awkwardly telling waitresses that I wanted applesauce on my salad instead of dressing. A few of them pleasantly surprised me by never batting an eyelash, as if folks ordered salad with applesauce every day.

Years went by and my salad stance remained static: I could eat raw vegetables if I wanted to, but I seldom chose to. I didn’t think to get creative.

Then, a few years ago, I started experimenting with the well-stocked salad bar in the Goldman Sachs cafeteria. One by one, I discovered salad acoutrements that would not only balance out the unpleasant edgy flavors of the greens and veggies, but would delighfully complement each other.

If you’re concerned that you aren’t getting enough vegetables in your diet, it may not be as hard as you think to learn to enjoy salad. In addition to the list above, here are some of my favorite ways to make a salad shine.

WARNING: Look up the nutritional information of each item before putting it on! A big scoop of raisins will not result in a healthy salad.

1. Craisins. OH yeah. Craisins.
2. Hummus
3. Beets
4. Sunflower seeds
5. Raisins (I find that they tend to be cloyingly sweet, but they’re absolutely lovely if you also splash on some…
6. Balsamic vinaigrette

I enjoyed the flavor combinations in today’s salad so much that I even surprised myself. If you do some experimenting with different permutations, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised too.

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