You may think your salad is healthy, but odds are it's not. Many salads that we make (or even buy) are actually loaded with fat and unnecessary calories. But, a healthy salad needn't be bland or boring. If you follow these tips, your salad will be hearty, healthy and bursting with colour and flavour. So, from using a spiralizer to create beautiful ribbons of your favourite veggies (think beets, carrots and zucchini) to piling in both grains like quinoa and protein like hard-boiled eggs or tofu, we're sharing our top 5 tips to create a killer salad.
1. Start with a better foundation
Forget that iceberg lettuce and start reaching for healthier greens instead (think mesclun greens, baby kale or spinach, watercress and arugula or even the dark leafy parts of romaine.) And, it's not hard. If you've been to the local grocery store lately you would have been hard-pressed not to notice the enormous selection of greens now available. So start by upping the nutritional ante by choosing a base for your salad that provides important nutrients like folic acid and lutein. For less than 20 calories per two cups you can have a tasty, nutrient-rich base.
2. Add protein
Wimpy salad's be gone! We like it when our salad is hearty enough to replace a main meal, and adding a good dose of protein to the mix, your salad becomes not only more filling, but healthier too. There are so many forms of protein that can be added to a salad, the options are practically endless. If you're opting for animal protein, select lean meats like hard-boiled eggs, skinless chicken or turkey breast, water-packed chunk light tuna, roasted salmon, or even lean sirloin steak. If you're veggie or vegan or you just want to shake things up a little, choose cubed tofu or three-quarters of a cup of chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, or other legumes.
3. Bulk it up with grains
The best way to make your salad more filling is by adding some whole or ancient grains. Cook a big batch of quinoa, barley, couscous or bulgur at the start of the week and add a big scoop to all of your salads thatweek. Sure, some of these ancient grains like quinoa and barley may seem tiny and almost insignificant on their own, but when tossed with flavourful ingredients like lemon, vinegars, oils and herbs, they absorb these flavours and seem to brighten them even more so they can bring your salad from boring to amazing in an instant. And, as these grains are all fairly similar in size and texture, you can pretty much use them interchangeably, depending on your mood, your dietary regulations and even what you've got stocked in your pantry.
4. Top it with an amazing vinaigrette
Stop buying that store-bought salad dressing! We can't emphasize this any more. Store-bought dressings are loaded with calories and fat, not to mention all of the fillers and added stabilizers to make them last so long. A perfect vinaigrette is a cinch to whip up. All you need is one part oil and three parts vinegar with some mustard, lemon and herbs for added flavour. Make an Asian inspired dressing using sesame oil, soya sauce or even yuzu. Or think Thai, add in freshly grated ginger, coriander and finely chopped chilies.
5. Use a spiralizer
A spiralizer is a tool which makes thin tube-like ribbons out of veggies like beets, carrots, sweet potato and zucchini. This tool might look a bit gimmicky but they do wonders turning all kinds of vegetables into thin 'noodles'. Spiralizers often come with different blades and plates. You can turn zucchini and sweet potatoes into long spaghetti like noodles and use them just like spaghetti. Spiralizer’s are great to help you make healthier choices and get more vegetables into your diet. You’ll be turning everything into noodles! We love adding beets, zucchini and carrots ribbons onto our salads for both visual and health appeal!
→ Love learning about new ingredients? Check out our article Spot the Difference: Udon, Rice & Soba Noodles here! -