A lot of people assume that anything with “salad” in the name is healthy, nutritious, and diet-friendly. While there are plenty of healthy salad recipes on the market, not all salads are created equal. In fact, there are a number of not-so-healthy salads out there that you may want to avoid if you’re counting calories and trying to stay fit. Let’s take a closer look at this controversial food item so you can make sure you are eating the right type of salad for your dietary goals.
What Is A “Salad”?
In America, we traditionally associate the term “salad” with a bowl of lettuce, topped with dressing, croutons, fruits, nuts, or other vegetables. However, a “salad” is any food item that consists of small pieces of food mixed with dressing, sauce, or similar covering. Good examples of other types of salads include macaroni salad, potato salad, and fruit salad. Most of these do not have the same nutritional benefits of a common green salad.
Not-So-Healthy Salad Ingredients To Watch For
Here are some common salad ingredients that won’t do your waistline any good:
- Heavy Salad Dressings (Ranch is a prime example – check the calories!)
- Mayonnaise (Used as a base in many non-lettuce salads and heavy salad dressings)
- Bacon Pieces
- Breaded Chicken
Considering the options above, a traditional Cobb Salad is far from a healthy food option, even if it looks healthy on the surface. This is what you have to watch out for when you determine what you want to eat. The green leafs in the background don’t necessarily indicate that it’s a good mean for you.
Healthy Alternatives To Unhealthy Salad Ingredients
Want to indulge in a tasty salad without filling your body with hard-to-burn calories? Check out these healthy alternative salad ingredients:
- Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios add crunch and protein to a salad without the high-calorie impact of bread)
- Pretzels (Great if you need to add a salty taste to your salad)
- Vinaigrettes (Try making your own. It’s easy!)
- Dried Fruits (Raisins, dried cranberries, etc.)
- Low Calorie Cheeses (Opt for Parmesan instead of cheddar, bleu cheese instead of mozzarella)
- Grilled Chicken
Test out different combinations of ingredients to get unique flavors from every meal. That’s the best part about making a salad – you can add whatever you want!
For more inspiration, check out these amazing salad recipes from Healthy Fitness Meals to boost your energy levels, trim down your belly, and please your taste buds all at once!
Some of the tastiest salad dressings out there fall in the category of “vinaigrettes.” A vinaigrette is any salad dressing that includes a mix of wine vinegar, oil, and seasoning. There are dozens of vinaigrette recipes in the world, but they all start with the same essential steps. In the guide below, you’ll learn how to make a basic vinaigrette so you can start playing around with your favorite ingredients.
The Basic Formula Of Vinaigrette Dressing
Every vinaigrette dressing starts with this simple formula:
- One Part Vinegar
- Three Parts Oil
- Salt, Pepper, And Other Seasonings To Taste
Whisk these ingredients together in a bowl, and boom! You have a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Most dressings are completed in under a minute, and they can be customized to suit your taste buds. How cool is that?
Playing Around With Vinaigrette Dressings
This is the fun part, mixing in different vinaigrette ingredients to get the perfect flavor for whatever you’re eating. It could be a salad, or it could be a dipping sauce for bread, appetizers, and more. Here are some different ideas for vinaigrette dressing ingredients:
- Oils: Most people choose extra virgin olive oil for their vinaigrette dressings, but other options include canola oil, vegetable oil, nut-based oils (hazelnut, walnut, etc.), and grapeseed oil.
- Vinegar: There are so many vinegars to choose from, depending on your personal tastes. Of course, balsamic vinegar is a classic salad dressing ingredient, but you could also use apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, and more. You could also substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, or add citrus fruit juices to the mix to enhance the flavor of your dressing.
- Seasonings: You can’t go wrong with simple salt and pepper, but you could highlight the other flavors in your salad with fresh dill, basil, mint, thyme, parsley, garlic, shallots, onions, Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, and more.
Don’t be afraid to try different combinations of vinegars and seasonings to see what best complements your food choices. With a recipe as easy as this, there is no reason not to test out your options!
Think Outside The Salad Bowl
Who says your vinaigrette has to go on top of a salad? You could add your custom concoction to just about anything you eat! Test it out on side dishes, like vegetable medleys and toasted breads. You could use the vinaigrette as a flavor additive for a healthy sandwich to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. You could grill meat with it, or you could use it in a marinade. You could even use a sweet option, like balsamic vinaigrette, in a special dessert! Play around with all of these unique ideas and unleash the awesome power of your homemade salad dressing.
Serving Size: 4
3 Cups Lettuce of Choice
2 Vine Ripe Tomatoes
2 Cucumbers, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
5 Radishes, sliced
1 Avocado, cut in cubes
1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced
5 Scallions, chopped
1 TB Mustard
1 TB Honey
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon (juiced- about 2 Tbs)
1/4 Cup Low Fat or Fat Free Greek Yogurt
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1) Place all salad ingredients in a bowl except avocado and toss together. Then add Avocado
2) In a small separate bowl prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients together until nicely combined.
3) Serve over Salad. Mix Gently then serve.
Serving Size: 2
1 can (15oz) Black Bean, rinsed and drained
1 Avocado, chopped
1/2 Cup Yellow Sweet Peppers, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1/2 Cup Vine Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Small Onion (1/4 cup), chopped
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro (cut smaller)
Juice of one Lemon
2 TB Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve and enjoy.
Have you ever had one of those days where you open your fridge and you barely have any veggies to make a decent salad? Don’t sweat it when that happens! so yesterday I made some kabobs and quinoa and it really needed a salad. I opened my fridge and the first thing I saw was these beautiful yellow and orange tomatoes. I have never seen these kinds before. I had to buy them! I know I am not good with change I really was skeptical. I love the traditional RED tomatoes! I really wanted some cucumbers and I know I had bought some a day before but seems like I have some rabbits in my house that got to my fridge before I did. (smile) Kids! I had to make do with what I had. This was very good and sometimes the simpler the better!
Serving Size: 2
2 Large Tomatoes (any color will work) Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
6-8 Mint Leaves (chopped)
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Small Scallion (chopped)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix and Serve. Garnish with more mint if desired.
This is delicious with any protein and a side such as rice and quinoa.
Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)
Total Fat 7.4g
Total Carbohydrates 8.6g
Please note that nutrition facts are calculated and may vary
Recipes provided by Feelgoodfoodie
Serving Size: 1
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & dried
1/2 cup red bell peppers
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup green bell peppers
1/2 cup pitted and sliced olives
2 tbsp olive oil for tossing
1 can tuna
Tuna Dressing (1 tbsp Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp mustard, 1/2 lemon squeezed, 1 tsp dill, 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley, salt & pepper to taste)
Assemble and enjoy!
Recipe provided by Feelgoodfoodie
2 avocados cut in half & pitted
1/4 cup bulgar wheat (or couscous or quinoa)
1 small Roma tomato finely diced
2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
2 tbsp onion chopped
2 tsp fresh mint chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Rinse bulgar in a bowl and pour off excess water, set aside for a few minutes || Mix all ingredients together in separate bowl, then add bulgur and mix once more || Spoon salad mixture into avocados
Recipe provided by Healthfoodfiles
Makes 6 servings
2 cups dried green lentils
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, diced
Chopped fresh parsley, shallot and mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Tahini (2 tbsp)
In a saucepan add lentils and enough water to cover the top of the lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered for 10 -20 minutes, until lentils are tender. Drain water and cool.
When lentils are cool, transfer them to a large serving bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and chopped herbs. Toss gently to combine.
For the dressing combine lemon juice and gradually drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly. Whisk in salt and pepper.
Drizzle dressing over lentil mixture and lastly tahini.
Nutritional values are calculated and may vary.
Recipe provided by Healthy Italian
Serving Size: 1
3 cups romaine lettuce
4oz all natural 94/6% ground turkey seasoned with homemade taco seasoning (made from an even dusting of: garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, Himalayan sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper)
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup low sodium organic canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 oz organic blue corn chips, crushed
3 tbsp all natural salsa or dressing of choice
Brown turkey in a skillet. Once cooked add taco seasoning to taste and about 1/4 cup water to help coat the turkey in spices. Cook until water is absorbed. Set aside. Cook frozen corn in a small skillet until thawed and slightly charred. Remove and set aside. Pan cook black beans until slightly tender. Assemble salad greens and top with sliced tomatoes, corn, black beans, turkey, and crushed blue corn chips. Add Greek yogurt or natural salsa as dressing.
Note: Nutrition facts values calculated using a nutrition calculator. Values may vary.