And since salads should be good for you, let’s also see how most people ruin their salads.
A healthy green salad should be high in antioxidants and other nutrients and low in bad fats and calories. But, sadly, this is seldom the case. Just because it’s called a “salad” doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Unhealthy added ingredients can turn a healthy salad into junk food.
So if you’ve been thinking that munching at the salad bar will help you get healthy or lose weight, drop those tongs right now and let’s get real.
How to Make a Healthy Salad in 5 Easy Steps
Whether you’re creating your salad at home or at a salad bar, here’s how to make a healthy salad – it’s your do-it-yourself healthy salad recipe:
1. Start with a mound of leafy greens. Raw spinach, romaine lettuce and mixed dark leafy greens top the vegetable nutrient list. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and only come to about 10 calories a cup. So the majority of your healthy salad should be dark green.
2. Top it with lots of colorful veggies. But don’t stop with greens. Here’s a list of some other healthy salad vegetables that are loaded with super nutrition. And they average only about 25 calories per cup:
• Beets, lightly steamed, shredded or sliced
• Bell peppers, green, yellow and red
• Broccoli, raw or lightly steamed
• Cauliflower, raw or steamed
• Carrots, raw, shredded
• Cucumbers, sliced
• Red cabbage
• Sprouts, alfalfa or bean
• Tomatoes, sliced, cherry or grape
3. Include some nutritious lean protein. To make sure your healthy salad has stick-to-your-ribs staying power, add some healthy lean protein.
• Beans – chickpeas, kidney or black beans, etc.
• Chicken or turkey breast, grilled or roasted
• Eggs, either hard-boiled or scrambled
• Lentils, peas or legumes, cooked
• Quinoa, cooked and cooled
• Salmon, can or grilled
• Shrimp, cooked
• Tuna in water
• Tofu, light
4. Add high-calorie extras cautiously. Although the following healthy salad additions can be high in nutrition, they’re also high in calories. So choose only one or two at a time and be mindful of portion sizes.
• Artichoke hearts, marinated and drained, 60 calories per oz.
• Avocados, one half equals approximately 140 calories
• Cheese, blue, cheddar, parmesan, has 100-120 calories an oz.
• Chicken or Tuna salad can be 200 calories for ½ cup
• Cottage cheese, regular whole milk has 115 calories for ½ cup
• Croutons (use only whole grain) are 140 calories per ½ cup
• Feta (goat cheese) has approximately 75 calories an oz.
• Nuts, walnuts, peanuts or pecans, 180-205 for ¼ cup
• Olives, black or green, 5 have about 40 calories
• Raisins come to around 110 calories for ¼ cup
• And sunflower seeds have about 200 calories for ¼ cup
5. Make your salad dressing healthy. For most of us, plenty of salad dressing is the best part. But commercial dressings can be nutritional killers. They’re generally high in salt, fat calories, saturated fats and/or sugar. And drenching your salad can add 500 to 750 unnecessary calories. So here’s how to make your own healthy salad dressing:
• Use only extra virgin olive oil,
• And a good vinegar or lemon juice.
• Plus herbs for seasoning, pepper to taste,
• With low-sodium tamari or a small amount of salt.
• For sweetening, use stevia or a non-caloric sweetener.
The common ratio of oil to vinegar is 3 to 1. But, if you’re watching your calories, reverse the ratio with 1 part oil to 3 parts vinegar (actually you can achieve wonders with as little as ¼ to 1 teaspoon of olive oil.)
Good seasonings are garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano and basil.
Other than using the basics above, coming up with your own healthy salad dressing recipes requires creative experimentation with the following:
• Pasta sauce,
• Low-fat yogurt,
• Low-fat buttermilk,
• Low-fat mayonnaise,
• Dried & minced, onions,
• Balsamic or sherry vinegar.
Whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl and that’s all there is to it!
Healthy Salads Recipes vs Un-healthy Salads
Let’s just go over the list of high calorie, non-nutritious or downright unhealthy additions that can turn your healthy salad into deceptive self-destruction:
• Iceberg lettuce has almost no value in its pale crunchy leaves.
• Croutons are low in nutrients and ½ cup has about 140 calories.
• Bacon, whether crumbled or “bits,” is high in salt, calories and fat.
• Cheese is generally way too high in saturated fat, salt and calories.
• Fried or sandwich meats have bad fats, calories and toxic nitrates.
• Commercial salad dressings are too high in bad fat, sugar and salt.
And now that you know how to make a healthy salad, whether you’re cruising a salad bar or cooking at home, you can start trying out these super creative ideas for healthy salads and healthy salad recipes.
More Commonsense Health for You:
High Fiber Foods List for a High Fiber Diet
The Healthiest Vegetables List of Vegetables
List of High Protein Foods Best Sources of Protein
Food Calorie Chart of Healthy Foods to Lose Weight