Most health-conscious eaters or people who are embarking on weight loss journey opt for salads as their meal choice. After all, salads are healthier and lower in calorie compared to fat laden or fried food.
However, that bowl of salad in front of you may just be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not all salads are created equal; some of them may contain more fats and calories than a Big Mac burger. Listed below are some tips on how to build a healthier salad.
1. Healthier Ingredients
Choose or prepare ingredients in healthier cooking methods (e.g. baking, grilling, steaming, stir frying) and avoid deep-fried or breaded ingredients.
2. Portion Size
If your salad only consists of raw vegetables and dressing, it will not provide enough satiety and you may end up reaching for unhealthy snacks in no time. Always include protein food to keep you full for longer, complex carbohydrate and healthy fats to make it a complete balanced meal.
3. Healthier Toppings
Salad toppings are extra ingredients that add colour and flavour to your salad. If you choose to have toppings on your salad, add them sparingly especially if they are deep-fried/breaded. You may also choose healthier toppings (e.g. fresh/dried fruits or unsalted roasted/raw nuts or home-made baked croutons) but limit toppings to 1-2 tablespoons.
4. Healthier Salad Dressings
Avoid cream-based dressings (e.g. Thousand Island, Caesar dressing or Mayonnaise) as they are high in saturated fat and can easily turn your salad into a calorie bomb. You can make your own healthy dressing by combining vinegar (e.g. balsamic vinaigrette) or lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or herb/spice infused oil. A small amount of healthy fat helps the body absorb vitamins from the vegetables better.
By making some modifications to your salad, it can be a healthy and nutritionally balanced meal. Feel free to play around with different combinations of ingredients, herbs and dressings to create delicious healthy salads.