Yep! It’s true!
Salads aren’t always the healthiest option.
We automatically classify some foods as healthy, especially of there’s a glimmer of a fresh vegetable in it.
But sometimes the ‘healthy’ option isn’t as healthy as you think :(
Let's talk about how to keep your salad super nutritious without compromising on taste.
And if you still think salads are boring, bland or just for ‘dieters’ - you’re in for a surprise, my friend!
Here’s my top 10 tips for creating mouthwatering healthy salads.
#1 Ditch the Bottled Dressings
Most bottled salad dressings from the supermarket are made with processed, omega 6, inflammatory vegetable oils. If you so find one made with extra virgin olive oil, it’s likely mixed with other artificial ingredients or been exposed to excessive heat and/or light which greatly compromises its quality. Shop-bought salad dressings and vinaigrettes adds loads of calories, saturated fat, trans fat and miscellaneous additives to your salad.
#2 Avoid Roasted & Prepackaged Nuts
Nuts are one of my favourite snacks and salad toppers. But the kind of roasted, prepackaged nuts that you buy are smothered in gross processed vegetable oils and then heated to high temperatures. (similar to my point above). These nuts are very unhealthy. Always buy raw nuts.
#3 Throw out the croutons
These are mostly made from white bread (aka refined white flours), processed fats and preservatives and will add many unwanted empty calories to your salad. If you desire a crouton-y crunch, try using raw nuts & seeds, or make your own croutons with whole grain bread.
#4 Replace the Cheese
Not because it’s cheese or because I support a plant based diet, but because there are so many poor quality cheeses on the market. If you’re someone who opts for cheese, it’s likely because you like the mouth feel of fat. I suggest leaving the cheese out of the salad and try using fresh avocado instead. Add ¼ avocado, chopped and sprinkle with some sea salt. Creamy and delicious! If you’re not willing to opt-out of cheese try and source high quality cheese and limit your portion to 1 ounce.
#5 Avoid (with a capital A) Prepackaged Processed ‘Deli’ Style Meats
Nope, nada, never ever. Forever ever? Yep. Replace with plant based protein options, see 10 below). (link to WHO)
#6 Go Big
A salad is the easiest way to cram in a bowl full of veggies. If you follow the rule of 5 (see below) and add ½ cup of 4 different veggies plus 2-3 cups of leafy greens, you’re already there! This is my favourite combo; 2 cups baby leafy greens and ½ cup each of grated red cabbage, shaved carrots, chopped cauliflower and thinly sliced cucumber. Eat this kind of salad most days of the week and your health will improve dramatically, even if you change nothing else.
#7 Do Fatten It Up
Fat is good, I’d even say it’s a non-non-negotiable on your plant! We need fat for so many bodily functions such as nervous system support, nutrient absorption and even to maintain a healthy metabolism. The ‘right kind’ of fats will not make you fat. Infact they will help you feel satiated. The ‘right kinds’ include (but not limited too) avocado, nuts, seeds and if you do choose to use oils, only cold pressed oils.
#8 Dress It Up
Your salad dressing will make or break your salad. Make your own! Try oil-free dressings and also vinaigrettes made with good quality oils. You can download my favourite dressings here.
#9 Add a Palmful of Protein
We need protein not just to achieve optimal health, but for survival! There’s a little protein in everything but vegetables and fruits do not provide a substantial amount. To pump up your protein intake & boost satiety use any combination of the following in salads; cooked quinoa, brown rice, beans, peas, sprouts, hemp seeds or edamame. Ensure your salad has somewhere between ½ cup of these protein rich plants (about a palmful) and your salad will be filling and energising.
#10 Warm It Up
Avoid eating your salad directly from the fridge when all the veggies are still cold. This can impair digestion and can also makes salads less appetising. Let your salad come to room temperature before you dig in.
Let’s toss it all together!!
I’ve created a formula that makes it real easy to prepare a salad from anything in your cupboard.
Click here to access my Build a Bowl download. Use my formula to help you create delicious, nutritious, satisfying salad bowls and choose from my favourite homemade salad dressings.
(As a bonus you’ll get a breakfast & dinner bowl formula too).
Now your turn: What’s your favourite salad recipe?