Salads can be pretty boring. There’s always too much lettuce, not enough toppings, or way too much dressing on not enough salad. And the worst is when you find out that your salad is secretly loaded with 2,000+ calories… ugh.
When you make that decision to eat a salad, you want to be sure that it will be a healthy one. The truth is, the best and healthiest salads can be made at home. You get to choose exactly how much of each ingredient goes into your salad and customize it to your liking. Here’s the perfect proportions and ingredients to make your next salad the biggest, baddest, most filling, salad out there.
The greens should serve as the base of your salad. You want it to be full of nutrients and low calorie to get your salad started off on the right foot. 2 cups dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale, or romaine are perfect options.
There’s almost no limit here, since vegetables should be the bulk of your salad. About 1 cup fresh, raw vegetables should add 50 calories to your salad while keeping you full and satisfied. Add carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, squash, mushrooms, beets, or any of your other favorites until your salad is big and colorful.
The Fat Source (Only One)
Consuming a fat source within your salad will help the body better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins found in all those vegetables. The key is to choose a healthy fat source, that promotes proper digestion and absorption rather than an unhealthy source which can cause discomfort and are difficult to digest. Add 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup cheese, or 1 tablespoon nuts.
The Protein (Only 3-oz.)
Select one (maybe two if you’re really hungry) sources of protein. Go for 3 ounces of a lean animal protein like skinless grilled chicken, turkey breast, or fresh fish. If you’re a vegetarian try 1/2 cup tofu, 4 egg whites or 3/4 cup beans.
The (Extra) Toppings
Here’s where it’s easy to go overboard with your salad. Limit yourself to 1-2 toppings. A handful of olives, 1 tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds, half an apple or 2 tablespoons dried craisins are all great options that will enhance the flavor of your salad.
The Salad Dressing (Only 2 Tablespoons)
The dressing is another spot where the calories can creep up really quickly. Drenching your salad in high fat, creamy dressings can add hundreds of calories instantly. Stick with a thin dressing like plain balsamic or a light vinaigrette. The best options are fresh lemon juice or a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
Wondering what you shouldn’t put in your salad? Bacon bits, deli meats, croutons, fatty cheeses, candied nuts, tortilla strips and any other high calorie, high sodium toppings.