Salads don’t need to be boring. They also can be a great way to fill up, while still watching your calories/are trying to be healthier but don’t want to give up deliciousness to get there!
I just ate this HUGE salad, that was very satisfying and from my estimate it was less than 400 calories – can’t beat it in my book. Plus it was fairly low fat and low salt too, which is a plus when trying to shed these extra pounds.
When I was growing up, I thought salads consisted of: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe green pepper. With either ranch or italian dressing (there wasn’t a huge selection in my house, but we made do!). I still loved salads, I love almost everything food-wise, which definitely helps when it comes to trying to make healthier choices.
But of course, not everyone enjoys all vegetables like I do, and that’s ok. I’ll include some tips here just to help you make salads a bit less boring, but still taste good – to you!
Of course you start with something green. This was just some regular romaine lettuce, but feel free to mix that up. Use iceberg, red leaf, or arugula(personal fav!). Throw in some spinach or kale, or mix a bunch of them together! Try out some different things and figure out which you prefer, maybe you’ll really enjoy one more than the rest and that alone will help with building a tasty salad.
Then add veggies. If you don’t like any of them, I first feel very sad for you, just because you are really missing out(sorry <3), but again TRY things, you might be surprised by what you end up liking! I think I threw a bit of everything I had in the fridge on this salad. Don’t be afraid to go nuts, the vegetables are the best part because they fill you up without being high in calories. I put a bit of a “stir-fry” mix I bought pre-cut fresh from the store that had grated carrots, celery, and a little bit of cauliflower, broccoli, and onion. I cut up a couple of fresh mushrooms, and yellow pepper that needed to be used up. Then added some nice slices of thin carrots my husband had prepared yesterday, they are really easy and tasty to make up and have in the fridge ahead. You literally just peel the carrot as normal, then use one of those wider pealers to keep peeling the carrot into long super thin slices – really brings out the sweetness in the carrot! Again, just add what you are comfortable with, or have on hand.
The next important thing to add if your salad is going to be a meal on it’s own is some protein. I used chicken that was mixed up with some onion, diced prunes, fat free greek yogurt, curry and other spices. You can choose from any of your favorite meats or protein sources. I know in the salad world everyone tends to choose chicken, but one of my other favorites is tuna. You could also use some sliced meat, like ham or turkey and just break it up in pieces over the top. Or even just use cheese, or add cheese WITH the meat if you want to! (I left the cheese out just because I was trying to keep this meal under what I had left for my daily calories, haha!) You could also use lentils, chick peas or beans if you want to go the legume route.
Then my next suggestion is to add some kind of whole grain to it. This is totally optional(as is everything with your salad since the whole point of this is to make it your own!), but I put a 1/4 cup of cooked farro on here. Another nice option would be maybe some bulgur, or quinoa(also a good source of protein too). If you’re just warming up to the idea of trying a fancier salad, then you may want to just not bother with adding a grain to it. Or if you’re cutting your carbs, again, all of this is just to give you some ideas!
The last and possibly the most important part of your salad is the dressing, since it is what can make a nice salad into a fantastic one! If you have a favorite store bought kind, and want to use that, great! Go for it! I personally like to mix it up with that as well, and try to make my own simple, low cal/low fat dressings. For this, I used a couple of tablespoons of fat free greek yogurt, two tsps of vinegar, a little packet of stevia, and some garlic powder. I find it makes a really nice tangy/sweet sauce that is great on salads, and other things too! Another one of my all time personal favorites is a recipe my mother taught me when I was little. You take mustard, a little vinegar, and sweetener, and just mix it together. I don’t have an exact measurement for each ingredient as I adjust depending on my mood. I may want it more vinegary one day, or I may want it more sweet, etc. so just play around with it! This is great on salads, but it’s also delicious mixed with tuna. It’s kind of like a calorie free honey mustard. Sometimes I put a bit of store bought italian dressing, and then add some vinegar to it also just because I really love vinegar. There are also a lot of other really yummy and healthy dressing recipes online, so look around! Those are just a couple of my go-to’s. 🙂
Once again, play around with it! Don’t always have the exact same combo of items, as eventually you will get tired of it. Also, keep in mind, you don’t have to eat salads every day in order to be healthy. I read a lot of people who say they eat them every day for a couple of weeks, then suddenly go nuts and feel the need to eat a lot of unhealthy things as they got very tired of salads, salads, and more salads. One of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle is that you need variety. If you feel like you’re FORCING yourself to eat something, then chances are you will eventually give up on trying to do that. It’s human nature. So if you’re not a huge salad person, just have one once in awhile and make sure you make it your own so it does actually taste good to you! Instead of a salad, pick out a veggie or multiple veggies you like, and eat them just on the side of whatever else you’re having. Steam them, saute them in some broth or a bit of healthy oil, boil them, or eat them raw. There’s no rule saying you HAVE to eat salads, but just try to find things you like, mix them up, and that way you won’t get tired of it!
❤ ~M xo