Many of us tend to think of salads as an appetizer or a side dish. But, when you do it right, a salad can be a full-sized meal, enough to eat for lunch or dinner!
Here, we’re sharing our best tips and tricks for healthy salads that’ll fill you up and taste amazing, plus, you will get a bonus recipe at the end.
Let’s go step by step to make the perfect salad.
To start your salad off strong, go for a nutrient-dense base. Dark green leaves like kale or spinach are a great starting point and you might add some quinoa or brown rice to make your salad even heartier.
Pack the Veggies
Next, you’ll want to load your salad with vegetables in all their nutritious glory. The options are truly endless and for the most part, adding whatever you’ve got in the fridge will do. But, here are a few ideas to start you off:
- Bell peppers
Add Some Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are so important to include in a salad. We’re talking about foods like avocado, salmon, chia seeds, eggs, flaxseeds, and olive oil.
First of all, healthy fats keep you fuller for longer. But, perhaps, more importantly, healthy fats actually help your body to unlock important phytonutrients from your greens and veggies that are otherwise difficult for our bodies to digest on their own.
Fats help break down that healthy kale, making all its excellent benefits more bioavailable. That’s why healthy fats and full-fat salad dressings are so essential. They help your body make the most of all the goodness in your salads.
Otherwise, no matter how much spinach and broccoli in your salad, you’re body can’t entirely access it without fats.
Give It Some Crunch
A big reason why many of us don’t go for a salad every day is that they can quickly become boring.
So, go ahead and add a bit of crunch to your salads with healthy nuts and seeds, chickpeas, or bean sprouts.
Fruit is Fair Game
Don’t be afraid to sweeten up your salad either. Adding fruit to your salads, especially fruits high in antioxidants, gives a touch of sweetest with an added nutritional boost.
Add some pear slices to an arugula salad with parmesan shavings, or go for some fig in a chicken and goat’s cheese salad. Cranberries are also a yummy and antioxidant-rich addition!
Dress It Up
As we mentioned before, salad dressing full of healthy fats is a key component to making your salad not only tastier but more nutritionally beneficial. However, not all salad dressing is created equal.
Avoid store-bought salad dressings as they are packed with unnecessary sugars and preservatives. Plus, it’s often more affordable to make your salad dressing with ingredients you probably already have.
How to Create Your Salad Dressing
Oil and Vinegar are all you need to make the perfect salad dressing. The general rule of thumb is to combine 1 part vinegar with 3-4 parts oil, whisk together, and season however you’d like.
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper are truly all it takes. But, play around with switching up the vinegar, maybe using apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar.
You might also add some lemon juice for extra tartness or something sweet like honey to balance out the flavors.
Creamy Salad Dressing requires a few more ingredients but is still super simple to make. You’ll need a base like Greek yogurt or avocado to give it creaminess, and then you’ll add a few teaspoons of dijon mustard for a delicious kick.
You can also add some olive oil and a little bit of vinegar with salt and pepper to round everything out.
Remember, seasoning is the key to a tasty salad dressing. And don’t be afraid of healthy fats!
Try This Amazing Salad Recipe
Now let’s put these tips to the test to create a Mediterranean-inspired quinoa salad.
For the salad
- 2 cups quinoa
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 2 tomato, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cucumber, sliced into halves
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup kalamata olives, halved
- ½ avocado, diced into chunks
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients.
- Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl with the dressing.
- Toss and season to taste.
- Crumble the feta on top.
So, what’s for dinner? Perhaps you should try this hearty, nutritious salad tonight!