Salads are generally a healthy choice, and have a great reputation of being a “diet-friendly” food. But if you aren’t careful, that healthy salad can turn into a very unhealthy choice, that packs on more calories than a Big Mac!
Although lettuce of almost any kind is healthy, it is the “fix-ins”, and dressing that often times kill that once nutritious plate of greens. If you are topping your salad with creamy dressing, bacon bits, loads of cheese and croutons, your seemingly healthy salad just took a turn for the worst.
I LOVE salad and I eat it almost everyday! Call me weird, but I’m speaking the truth. Salads make me feel full, are diverse and are great as a main meal or as a side dish. With that being said, here are some ways to make sure your salad is healthy, and not mysteriously sabatoging your diet!
Healthy Salad Do’s & Don’ts
Go Green: Don’t just stick to iceberg lettuce. There are so many more nutritious greens out there such as arugula, spinach and my favorite red leaf lettuce. Be creative, mix a few different kinds together. Leafy greens have less than 20 calories per serving and provide myriads of vitamins and minerals so don’t be scared to pile them high!
Steer Clear of the Cream: Cream based dressings such as blue cheese and ranch, add lots of unwanted fat and calories to your salad. Instead, stick with a basic oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Even try adding apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your salad for an extra kick, with barley any extra calories.
Add Lean Protein: To make sure your salad keeps you full, it is important to add in a lean protein source.
Some great sources of protein are:
- Grilled Chicken
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Grilled fish, such as Salmon or Shrimp
- Roasted Turkey
- Garbanzo Beans
Go Crazy With Veggies: Get creative and feel free to add in as many vegetables as you want. The more colorful your salad is, the more nutrients you are getting from it. Red peppers, cucumbers, orange carrot shavings, purple heirloom tomatos and yellow squash will add myriads of health benefits and flavor to your salad.
Don’t Forget About Fruit: Salads do not have to just contain vegetables, fruits actually provide just as much nutrition, as well as a nice refreshing flavor. Apples, figs and strawberries are some of the most popular fruits that are often times added to salads, but don’t be scared to experiment. A watermelon and feta cheese salad might not sound too appetizing, but the flavors actually blend together incredibly well and provide for a light, cool and refreshing summer meal.
Mix in Nuts & Skip the Croutons: A crunchy texture is always a nice addition to any salad, but when it is in the form a crouton it adds calories and provides little benefit. Instead, try adding in some walnuts, almond halves, pine nuts or pistachios for some extra fiber and a healthy source of fats. Do be careful though, because although nuts are extremly healthy, they can pack on extra calories and fat if eaten in large quantities. A little bit goes a long way! A small handful will go a long way.
How do you create a healthy salad?