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Considering Adding Healthy Salads in Your Diet?

Chew on this:

10 Ways to Build a Healthy Salad

Salads are supposed to be healthy, right? After all, they are loaded with vegetables. Whether you are making your salad at home or ordering from a restaurant, read on for some helpful reminders so your salad stays friendly, rather than frightening.

  1. Traditional iceberg lettuce still works, but for more of a nutrition punch, try to add some darker greens such as romaine lettuce, arugula, spring mixes, kale or spinach. If you not ready to make “the switch,” mix some different greens and lettuces together for more crunch and color. Check out all the great salad mixes in the produce section at McCaffrey’s. Remember, it is not necessary to rewash lettuces that have already been prewashed.
  2. Some of the most nutritious foods can add the most texture and flavor to your salad. Carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and onions are common salad ingredients. But what about adding some shaved fresh beets, shredded cabbage, roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms or grilled asparagus to your dish? The more vegetables, the better. Try filling at least half of your plate with veggies, so you’ll have less room for “other stuff,” And, eat the colors of the rainbow!
  3. Looking for something sweet? Try adding tangerine sections, sliced strawberries, apple slices or red grapes to your salad. The fresh fruit will add sweetness and moisture that may enable you to cut back on your dressing. Dried fruit will also add some sweetness and texture to your salad, but remember dried fruit is more calorically dense.
  4. Marinated beets, marinated mixed vegetables, tomato and cucumber salad, carrot and raisin salad, and three bean salad should be enjoyed in moderation. While they are all vegetable based, they often are drenched in oil.
  5. Cheddar cheese is something most people sprinkle on their salads without a thought. Just two tablespoons of cheddar cheese provide a whopping 114 calories. If cheese is your thing, shredded cheese is a better option than chunks since it will disperse throughout your salad. Or, consider trying a stronger cheese, such as Parmesan or feta, since a very small amount goes a long way.
  6. If you are enjoying a salad for a meal, there are numerous animal and vegetable protein choices to round out your plate. Great choices include hard-boiled eggs, egg whites, grilled chicken, boiled or steamed shrimp, grilled salmon, roasted turkey breast, water-packed tuna, tofu, lentils, garbanzo beans, or black beans.
  7. Your choice of dressing can make or break your salad. Portions matter! Some brands of creamy dressing can add unwanted calories and fat to your salad. Even olive oil dressings are high in fat although usually a healthier form of fat.
  8. For an even heartier salad, do not hesitate to add some whole grains into your dish – quinoa, farro, bulgur or whole wheat pasta.
  9. Top off your salad with any of the great crouton substitutes outlined under Ask the Expert
  10. If you’re serious about cutting calories on your salad, skip the dressing altogether. Squeeze lemon juice over your salad for a light citrus zest or simply eat the salad naked. A light bruschetta or salsa is also a good dressing sub. If you add flavorful ingredients, you won’t miss the dressing!

If you cannot do without dressing, try some of these healthy dressing recipes:

Ranch Dressing (2 T= 18 calories)
‣ Whisk together 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 envelope Ranch Dip mix, & 1/4 cup non-fat milk

Olive Oil & Lemon (2 T= 96 calories)
‣ Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, ½ cup lemon juice, 4 cloves garlic, chopped, 1/4 t pepper, and salt to taste.

Honey Mustard (2 T= 60 calories)
‣ Whisk together 1 1/2 T olive oil, 3 T non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 T soy sauce, 1 1/2 T Dijon mustard, & 1 1/2 T honey

Try these Gourmet Selections selected by our Dietitian!