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Got the Salad Blues?

These four toppings will put a little excitement back into your diet

Even in the winter, salad doesn't have to be a boring pile of dry veggies. "There's no rule that says it needs a leafy-green base," says Leslie Bonci, R.D., M.P.H., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. So toss some of these into your bowl.

1.) EDAMAME

  • 95 calories
  • 9g carbs
  • 8g protein
  • 4g fiber

This nutritional powerhouse may be most popular in Japanese restaurants, but it can also add hefty muscle-building aminos and a good bit of fiber to salads you make at home. "Edamame's a complete protein," says Bonci, "so it's comparable to meats like chicken and fish." It also adds a good crunch to meals. Sprinkle some sea salt over them.

2.) PEPPERONCINI

  • 17 calories
  • 3g carbs
  • 1g protein
  • 2g fiber

Think tiny bell peppers, but with a sweeter, slightly spicy kick. Pepperoncini are available fresh, or by the jar, and complement any salad. "They taste great, and you'll need less dressing when you have stuff with flavor in your salad," says Bonci, who suggests throwing them in a Caesar. "The hot ones may provide a slight calorie burn," she adds.

3.) DRIED PLUMS

  • 209 calories
  • 56g carbs
  • 2g protein
  • 6g fiber

"People don't think about fruit in a salad," Bonci says, "but why not?" Dried plums (which used to be called prunes) have 5% of your required daily intake of vitamin K and improve digestion. Plus, they can help to curb your dessert cravings, which could wipe out any good eating a salad could do for your diet in the first place.

4.) CORN

  • 67 calories
  • 15g carbs
  • 2g protein
  • 2g fiber

Corn gets a bad rap. Yes, it's starchy. So what? "Instead of croutons," says Bonci, "throw some corn in there." It's all about what kinds of carbs you take in, and corn is way healthier than crusty, oily bread. Buy your kernels in a can, drain the liquid, then spread them over a baking sheet and place in the oven at 400 degrees. It's only a couple of minutes till they're nicely roasted. Add to your salad, then toss in some black beans and a little salsa for a fiesta.

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