Salads get a bad rep for being bland or not filling. Alternatively, you have the salads served at restaurants, which may taste great, but have more calories than a burger and fries. Your salads don’t have to be boring or unhealthy. Below are 10 different ingredients you can use to create delicious, filling salads that are also low in calories.
First things first, the dressing. Dressings can make or break a salad, calorie-wise. If you are looking to lose weight, use light dressings. They are usually anywhere from 0 calories to 50 calories for a 2 tablespoon serving. This way, you can enjoy your salad without adding unnecessary calories to it. I highly recommend using light Italian, light Asian, or light oil and vinegar dressings.
The meat or proteins you choose are really important. Many restaurants give the option of fried chicken on salads and that defeats the purpose of trying to eat healthily. Instead of anything fried, opt for baked or grilled proteins such as chicken, fish, or beef. It’s important to eat enough protein, but also not to have protein full of additional (oil) calories that won’t help you reach your goal.
Starchy vegetables are a great way to get in some carbs, but they also contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Adding in any kind of small baked potato or half a cup of any bean will help keep you full for a longer time.
Next are the vegetables. There are so many to choose from, and they are all great to toss into a salad bowl. Most vegetables are made up of water, so they are low calorie in their raw state. You can never go wrong with the basics of throwing in sliced-up tomatoes and cucumbers. Fresh broccoli, sweet peppers, and celery are also great additions.
Now let us get into fruits. Some online health communities shun them because they are “high in sugar”, but fruits are nature’s candy, and like anything, moderation is key. A salad can be taken to the next level by adding a few slices of strawberries, apples, or citrus fruit to it.
Dried fruits are also a fantastic ingredient to put into a salad; dried blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and plums are just a few that can balance out the acidity of dressing in a salad.
However, some of you may prefer savory to sweet and for that, we have pickled vegetables. Adding some pickled radish, red onion, cucumber, peppers, or beets to your salad will give it a zing that will make eating healthy even more satisfying.
We haven’t forgotten about nuts either. Nuts contain a ton of benefits, the main one being that they are loaded with antioxidants. Although nuts are known for being high in calories, you don’t need more than a small palmful to add a nice crunch to your salad. Walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and peanuts are just a few types one can mix into their salad.
Seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and chia seeds can really boost your salad’s health benefits. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, which functions as an antioxidant. Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, which is good for heart health. Chia seeds are low in calories and are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is normally found in fish products.
Lastly, let’s talk about garnishes. Many restaurants garnish their salads with either croutons or some sort of fried flour product. When making a healthy salad at home, it is best to garnish your masterpiece with herbs. Basil, thyme, rosemary, and chives are a few herbs that will add an additional savory flavor.
There you have it. Ten ways that you can create a, not only, delicious, but healthy and low-calorie salad at home.