Luckily for me, this pregnancy I have been craving salad. Like daily. So it hasn't been that hard for me to get my daily veggies in. On the other hand, I do know the struggle of choosing a healthy salad over a nice creamy pasta dish. Conversely, have you ever been to a restaurant and look at the salad menu, trying to be healthy, only to discover that due to all the crazy/delicious toppings, the salad is just as bad for you as the burger. Seems counter-intuitive, right? You might as well go for the burger then.
In light of these two all too common situations, I though that I'd put together some dressing and topping ideas that will keep your salad healthy while still making it enticing to eat.
Let's start with dressings
My first go to is simply oil and vinegar. A little olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar can add some great flavor to a salad. If you are adding chicken to your salad, you can saute it in some balsamic for a blast of flavor.
If you are looking for something creamier try a cucumber yogurt dressing. Need a recipe? Here are the ingredients:
1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried dill
Just throw it all in a blender until its nice and smooth. You can store it for about a week in an airtight container.
For a citrus viniagrette, try this recipe:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
Again just blend until smooth.
Now for toppings!!
Let's start with protein. Its is good and delicious to add some lean proteins to your salad. Obviously, there's grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs, but you can also try canned beans of all kinds, chickpeas, tofu, or water-packed tuna. You can also vary your greens. You can add romaine or spinach for a different twist. You can add a whole mix of veggies to your salad. If your salad looks like a rainbow, it is definitely more enticing to eat. Throw in some carrots, peppers, tomato, broccoli, and snap peas. You can even add some fruit to sweeten it up! Apples, mandarin oranges, and dried berries come to mind. To add some texture, how about adding some nuts? Water chestnuts, sliced walnuts. Or add some broken up whole wheat crackers instead of croutons.
OK, I saved the best for last, CHEESE! I know, cheese is the enemy. You love it but it's so high in fat content so you shouldn't put it on. Well, while I try to eat healthy, I also don't believe in depriving myself. That totally sets you up for binging later. And if you binge later, the salad was all for nought, unless you just really love salads. So here is how you can do the cheese. Pick a lower fat, high flavor cheese. Having a higher flavor option allows you to add less but still get that great cheesy flavor. A sharp cheddar or a bleu cheese or a gorgonzola, will add the flavor with a much smaller portion.
I hope you are able to use some or all of these ideas! Do you have a favorite healthy salad additive? Leave it in the comments so we all can enjoy!