It’s Greens-tober, Y’all 

Let’s face it: salads get the worst rep in the foodie world. 

Unfortunately, this is because most people are often under the impression that salads should be boring, flavorless bases of leaves with one or two drops of dressing, and maybe some extra veggies like cucumbers or tomatoes (if they’re lucky). However, this does not have to be the case! In fact, salads can be incredibly satisfying— especially when you incorporate more beyond the basic add-ins like croutons or a few extra veggies. 

This month, to prove this to myself, I set out on a new challenge: Greens-tober! 

Essentially, Greens-tober is a challenge I created for myself for the whole month of October. The only rule behind it is that I have to eat one salad per day for a main meal. The salads do not necessarily have to be “extravagant,” but ultimately, the goal is to enjoy eating them by spicing them up a little from the average plain-Jane ones like Caesar, Greek— or even just the salad that you eat every day for school or work that makes you want to order a pizza every time you see it because the thought of eating it is so dreadful. 

So, you may be wondering, why would a college student challenge herself to eat one salad every day for a month? And, if you are asking yourself this, I completely understand— especially when the dining halls have so many options to choose from. However, that’s the exact reason I decided to. 

When I arrived at college in August, I was confident that I would not fall into poor eating habits, especially because I ate healthy at home and maintained a balanced diet for so long. However, like many other college freshmen, I soon came to realize that this was much easier said than done— especially at a school like Michigan State where practically every kind of cuisine you could think of is offered— from burgers and fries at Brimstone, to pizza at Ciao!, to Asian-inspired dishes at Pangea, to pasta at Wilson’s late night, and so much more. That said, I soon found myself eating these things more than whole foods I ate at home.fter it continued to progress for a while longer, I came to the conclusion that I had to make a change. Hence, Greens-tober was born! 

I was not necessarily hesitant about the challenge because I knew I could accomplish my goal, but I was also aware that passing on my favorites like pizza and fries was going to be more of a struggle than not. And yes, some days it is. If you’re eating with your friends and they are enjoying nachos from Cayenne’s or macaroni and cheese bowls from Roost, a salad seems incredibly dull. If you’re like me, and this scenario reminds you of yourself, keep scrolling to find some of the salads I created this month along with some tips on making amazing salads that will keep your stomach happy. 

 

“Hummus where the Heart Is”

Big shoutout to Unbelieva-bowl at the MSU Union! This green bowl is so fresh, tasty, and vegetarian friendly! 

  • Field greens, quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, spicy red pepper hummus, tzatziki, feta, tabbouleh, chickpeas, and cauliflower 

 

“Every Day I’m Brusselin” 

Brussels sprouts: you either love them or hate them. Regardless, in this salad, you’ll love them! 

  • Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red onion, hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken breast, prosciutto, seasoned brussels sprouts, and balsamic dressing 

 

“A Lil’ Chili Never Hurt Nobody” 

Little hints of sweet and spicy: it’s the best thing. 

  • Field greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, sweet and spicy roasted sweet potatoes, margarita-spiced fish, veggie dip, guacamole, and balsamic dressing 

 

“I Don’t Give a Shiitake” 

If you eat this salad, you really won’t. 

  • Romaine lettuce, spring mix, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red onion, artichoke hearts, grilled chicken breast, sauteed mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, green onions, veggie dip, and French dressing 

 

Hands down, these are my favorite salads that I’ve eaten so far this month. Now, believe it or not, I look forward to eating a salad every day! Also, though this won’t be my health challenge for November, I definitely plan to continue it then. If Greens-tober (or Greens-whatever-month-you-choose) sounds like something you’d be interested in but don’t know how or where to start for success, check out some of my tips below! 

 

1. Use the MSU app.

On MSU’s app, the dining halls list the food they will be serving throughout the day. Use this app to see what will be available to you and even plan out your meal! 

2. Go BEYOND the salad bar.

Yes, the salad bars at MSU are great and they offer plenty of options for everybody. However, they are often repetitive, and soon, you may find yourself eating the same salad everyday and getting bored with the selection. My best suggestion is to create your base at the salad bar itself (my base is always greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion) and then visit each of the stations to see what else you can incorporate into your salad to make it more enjoyable. I love adding grilled chicken, grilled or sauteed veggies, potatoes, and hummus! 

3. Take risks.

I didn’t think I would ever enjoy sweet potatoes with veggie dip in a salad, but now, it’s one of my favorite combinations! Taking risks is what helps to make the process even more interesting. 

4. Be kind to your body and mind.

If a salad isn’t what will do for that day, it’s okay! If you want to have a cup of soup with it, go for it! If you’re having a bad day and still want a salad but pizza feels like a necessity, the world is yours. If it's a Friday night and your friends want Taco Bell, get your favorite thing on the menu. It’s okay if you fall off the bandwagon every now and then; don’t be so hard on yourself if you miss out on a day— just start again tomorrow. Greens-tober is meant to be enjoyable and satisfying— so let it be! As long as you learn something from it and try your best while still being good to yourself, you’ve accomplished your goal. 

You got this. Go crush it.