5 Tips to Build a Healthier Salad
There’s nothing more refreshing than a salad on a hot summer day, but they can also be enjoyed year-round. With the right ingredients and a little creativity, you can make a sweet or savory option that will keep your taste buds happy and waistline healthy.
- Begin with a nutrient base. Instead of iceberg lettuce, look for a bag of baby spinach or a spring mix, that includes dark green leaves.
- Eat your veggies. The next ingredient to add to your salad is raw vegetables. Think carrots, cucumbers, snap peas or red bell pepper. Just slice them up the way you want and mix them into your lettuce. “You can’t go wrong with vegetables; not only are they filling, but they also provide that crunch you would otherwise get from adding starchy croutons or other bread-like toppings. It’s all about balance,” said PIH Health Educator, Community Health Education Janice Foust RDN CDE.
- Add protein. Your salad becomes an even more nutritious meal when you add protein, and the best part is you can choose to add whatever you’d like, even add two proteins if you’re feeling extra hungry. If you’re opting for an animal protein, go for a lean one, such as egg whites, cooked skinless chicken, wild caught salmon, shrimp, water-packed light tuna or turkey. If you’re a vegetarian or just want a lighter protein based salad, add: tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans or pinto beans. Avoid any processed meats such as salami, bacon or anything that’s fried, which will be high in calories and bad for your health.
- Extra, extra! Next, choose one or two extras. The goal is to minimize consuming extra calories, but a touch of these additional toppings won’t hurt. Here are some options you can add: half an avocado, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, fresh strawberries or feta cheese.
- Keep it light. The last step to your healthy salad is the dressing. Avoid using anything creamy, such as ranch dressing, unless you only use a tablespoon, which is said to have approximately 100 calories. If possible, go for a vinaigrette-style dressing which averages 80 calories per tablespoon. The best option is making your own vinaigrette dressing by drizzling avocado or olive oil over your salad, a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper. Enjoy!