Most people start the new year vowing to improve their diets.

Salad Creations is a great place to do just that.

The restaurant, located in the new Eagle Village, is basically a salad buffet, full of healthy choices with a few paninis and wraps thrown in.

I stopped in there one night with my father-in-law and daughter Celia. The dining room is a bright, modern-looking space and everything was very clean.

My father-in-law tried a “Tuna & Cheddar Melt” ($6.99), which turned out to be a good-size sandwich cut in thirds. He liked the flavor of the tuna but not the too generous amount of mustard that overpowered the taste.

He described the bread as good.

The sandwich didn’t come with sides, but chips and soup are available.

Celia made her own kid-size salad ($3.99), which came with a juice box and a granola bar. She was allowed to pick three “throw-ins,” or ingredients, to add to her salad.

I have to say the “kid-size” salad is probably the size a normal adult would eat at home. The “adult-size” at Salad Creations comes in an enormous silver bowl like the one I use at home to toss a salad for my whole family.

In fact, this would be a great place to stop and pick up an already-made salad for a special dinner at home.

Celia added cheddar cheese, green peppers and Chinese noodles to her choice of romaine lettuce. (You can pick from iceberg mix, romaine, spring mix or spinach.)

She was happy with her salad and finished most of it.

There are plenty of ingredients available that appeal to most children–like bacon bits, carrots, corn, raisins and sunflower seeds.

For Celia, the fun factor of picking her own ingredients was off the charts.

For my salad, in the big bowl, I chose spring mix with artichoke hearts, black olives, cucumbers, feta cheese, pepperoncini peppers, red onions and croutons ($6.99). If you want meat (or “protein” as they describe it), you can pick from grilled chicken, buffalo chicken, teriyaki chicken, turkey breast, roast beef, albacore tuna and wild Alaska salmon, all for an extra charge.

I went for the grilled chicken ($1.99 extra), and picked Greek salad dressing from the many intriguing ingredients available.

When I first started eating my salad, no single flavor really stood out–I thought it was somewhat ho-hum. The flavor of the Greek dressing was very mild as was the chicken’s taste.

But as I chatted away, it started tasting better and I was surprised when I could see the bottom of the bowl. I enjoyed it–plus I felt very virtuous.

If you want a spectacular gourmet salad, you might go to a sit-down restaurant. For a good serviceable salad that is a great alternative to fast food, Salad Creations is the place.

Shannon Howell is a Fredericksburg-area writer.

What: Salad Creations Address: 1133 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg Phone: 540/656-2525 Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Menu: Chef-created salads, wraps and paninis: $5.99-$7.99 Cost: Create Your Own Salad starts at $6.99, with meat costing $1.99-$3.50 extra.Kids Menu: $3.99 (includes salad with three “throw-ins,” a granola bar and juice)

The Scoop: Fun place to pick your own healthy and tasty ingredients; great alternative to fast food.

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