Sorry to break the news, but “salad” isn’t synonymous to “healthy” all the time. Commonly, those salads served in restaurants are overloaded with fried toppings and calorie-packed dressings that can contain up to 700 calories.
That means a salad which should have been called “green and healthy” now must be “greasy and heavy”.
Eating salads in restaurants made by top chefs is always delicious, but you can do the same thing at home. Yeah, it’s possible, guys. Not saying that you can freely adjust or modify the toppings to het healthier dishes.
Importantly, with just a couple of tips, tricks and directions below, the process is way much easier to carry out. So, why not?
A healthier salad should have…
Basically, a salad should have four key ingredients: greens, veggies or fruits, protein and dressing. From these must-have layers, you can accompany some bonus points such as crunch, grains and extras. They are usually the major stuff to make your salad dish get different interesting flavor and feel less boring significantly.
Now, I will talk more detail about what a HEALTHIER salad should have:
All greens will give you high content of fiber to support your digestion, but smarter selections can bring you more than that. For example, kale provides a lot of calcium while herbs, they are a great antioxidant to slow down your aging process.
Other than those veggies, there are some more healthy kinds to choose such as arugula, cabbage, radicchio, spinach, romaine, etc. And, particularly, it’s not compulsory to just use one and only kind of vegetables to make your salad.
If you are a green person or want to vary the taste, just use a mixture of different veggies. And I’m 100% sure that you won’t regret with this plot twist. The flavor of a mixed greens dish is incredibly delicious.
It’s just you, know how to choose fresh vegetables to have the best taste.
Now, with grains, might you hear a lot about these kinds: quinoa, wild rice, spelt, pearled barley, farro, bulgar wheat, buckwheat, wheat berries, millet and spelt.
They are also the most common ingredients added to salads, BUT, kindly make clear that quinoa just a grain look-alike seed. It contains a high rate of protein which vegans should keep in mind.
In fact, quinoa is related to leaf green vegetables like Swiss chard and kale but the way it’s cooked is much like rice.
And one more good news for vegans, I have one more brand-new grain that contain 4x more protein contains than brown rice. It’s called freekeh. Sound weird, right? But it’s truly healthy!
Another good grain is kamut which’s arguably a great antioxidant.
Next is protein!
For this ingredient, I highly recommend to choose steak, roasted tofu, tempeh, salmon or tuna, chicken or turkey, chickpeas, eggs, beans, edamame, lunch meat or prosciutto.
If you are a busy person, the pre-cooked foods like chicken breasts are okay. Don’t worry, they don’t contain much grease or fat to level up the total number of calories in your salad dishes. Not to saying that they are easy to find. You can purchase them in any supermarket.
Or, on the weekend, when you have free time, just dice and shred the meat. Then, play them in the fridge and use gradually.
Veggies or fruits
My favorite veggie is fennel because not only they’re tasty, but this vegetable also contains a lot anethole to help reduce the risk of cancers, support digestion and prevent inflammation efficiently.
However, if you don’t find this veggie suit your taste, just alter with other options such as beets, carrots, onion, celery, artichoke hearts, jicama, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
Or, you can try tomato, bell pepper, peas, olives and mushroom.
Kindly bear in mind that with brussels sprouts, either sautéed or shaved them. With broccoli, roasted or raw is the best way to enjoy its flavor but still keeps all nutritious ingredients.
With fruits, two highly-recommended are avocado and pomegranate seeds. Why? With avocado, I won’t talk more about it as there’s already a particular article. Meanwhile, with pomegranate seeds, they’re synonymous to the best anti-inflammation and antioxidant. Truth to say, it helps to adjust your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and prevent heart attack.
But to vary your salad, here are some other selections: berries, apple, orange, melon, stone fruit, kiwi, grapefruits, grapes, dried cranberries, pineapple and mango.
(Say cheese!) It’s the most interesting part – the bonus point!
Start off with crunch. Air popped popcorn is a clever choice as they contain no carbs, no saturated fat or calories to make you chubbier. Make clear that only the air popped popcorns without butter or oil will work the way healthier. So, avoid pre-packaged microwave bags!
Other than popcorn, you can try some nuts or pita chips, toasted quinoa, hempseed, bacon, chia, baked tortilla chips and sunflower seeds.
Besides, for more variations, you can add some extras like pesto, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, sun-dried tomato or bleu cheese.
They contain calories (I don’t deny it!). So, adding just 1 tablespoon for tastier dish is acceptable.
Last up is dressing!
There are four key ingredients for a delicious dressing, they are oil, emulsifier, acid and herbs (flavorings).
Start with oil, it’s advised to use one of these: walnut oil, hazelnut oil, olive oil or avocado oil. Meanwhile, with emulsifier, don’t hesitate to opt for mashed avocado, hummus, ground flax, Greek yogurt (, which if you already read my article about Top healthy dessert with oats, I mentioned this flavor a lot in my recipes.) or mustard.
In terms of acid, there are these options: white wine vinegar, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.
Finally, to make the dressing get nice fragrance, tastier and more colorful, don’t forget to add some herbs and flavorings. For examples, honey, basil, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley, oregano and dills.
To have the best salad dish like those served in restaurants, consider these
This part isn’t compulsory, you can skip it up if all what you need is just an eatable salad dish without any demands of aesthetics.
Remember that attractive salads aren’t difficult to make; they just ask more care.
Now, these small tips and tricks will help you get a nice and attractive dish like those served in many restaurants:
First are greens.
My recipe changing isn’t just based on how bored I get to the latest salad dish, but also depends on season/the time of the year and which greens look freshest on the supermarket.
Bear on mind that before making salads, make sure that all greens are dried out completely as if they aren’t, veggies will weigh down and a little bit slimy when adding dressing into it.
From that point, my tip is after washing greens, either lay them out on a dried towel to absorb all excess water or spin dry them.
Next is washing.
This is an essential step because with proper way of washing, not only you can remove all sandy soil, but the greens can be retained its shape without any bruises or soft spots.
To get rid of all sandy soil, avoid rinsing them under running water, instead, soak the greens in in a large water bowl or sink. When done, don’t just grab them out of the sink or bowl, but gently spread your hands out beneath them and let the greens rest in your hands. It’s ideal to wash greens or veggies twice or three times until there’s no soil or dirt anymore in the bottom of the sink/bowl.
Last up is chopping step.
When consult other websites, chances you will see that many bloggers advise you to chop all veggies into bite size. HOWEVER, in fact, it needn’t!
Not deny that in a couple years ago when eating salad with a knife was arguably impolite, the habit of cutting all veggies into bite-sized pieces had been popular. But, this way will ruin the distinctive shape of the greens and crunch, making them look not attractive at all.
You don’t want too small cuts, but not too large ones that can’t fit the dish as well as are difficult to eat. So, here’s my tip: with large leaves like large red oak leaf, romaine and escarole, just trim them like this:
Remove the thick, woody stems. Do the same thing with the small leaves (like basil, arugula, watercress, purslane, and young spinach) but they should be left whole. I mean don’t chop them to remain their distinctive shapes.
And here’s what you will get:
My favorite salad recipes
Salad ft. Vinegar dressing
- 100 grams of salad
- 100 grams of brussels sprouts
- 1 egg
- ½ onion
- 1 cucumber
- 1 tomato
Flavors: vinegar, garlic, pepper, sugar, salt, olive oil.
Firstly, you can make some fresh green vegetables such as salads, brussels sprouts and fruits. To remove all toxins, soak them in salted water for 15 minutes. With fruits such as cucumber, onion and tomato, slice them into bite-sized pieces.
I choose egg as the protein layer for this salad.
The onions and sprouts should be washed and soaked in a large bowl of water-salt liquid. Again, after washing, dry them out gently. Place them in a mixing bowl, pour the vinegar, mix them up and leave for about 5 minutes. Now, add some chili and garlic to make them more colorful and tastier.
Apply this formula:
1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of vinegar, 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, pepper and garlic
Soak all greens in the dressing for about 10 minutes for the best margination. During the process, remember to stir gently so that cucumber and sprouts will be soaked evenly.
Now, just lay all of them in a dish, decorate with some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. Then, just ready to serve.
Salad ft. Mayonnaise
- 4 salads
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 cucumbers
- 100 g of coriander
- 2 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3 teaspoons of vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of white sugar
- 1 teaspoon of water
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
With cucumber and carrot, slice them into bite-sized pieces.
In terms of salad, use my tips when chopping them to remain their shapes.
Apply this formula:
3 tsp of vinegar + 2 tsp of sugar + 1 tsp of sesame oil + 1 tsp of salt + 1 tsp of pepper and some water.
After the dressing mixture is done, transfer all greens and veggies into a mixing bowl, pour dressing on and use either your hands or forks to mix them up gently. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to have an evenly soaked mixture.
Then, place it in a dish, decorate and ready to enjoy.
Some other dressing recipes
Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
¼ tsp of lemon juice + 1 tsp of honey + ½ tsp of mustard + 1/8 cup of plain Greek yogurt + some water to thin (optional)
1 tsp of Dijon Mustard + 4 tsp of olive oil + 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar + small pinch of salt and pepper
1.5 tsp of olive oil + ½ tsp of parmesan + ½ minced small clove garlic + ¼ tsp dried dill + 1/8 cup of plain Greek yogurt + small pinch of salt and pepper
Kindly take notice that these formulas are made enough for 1 salad.
If you have much free time to cook daily, just make a tasty salad whenever you want to eat. But I highly recommend to eat it daily as they will make your meal less boring while adding many nutritious ingredients to your body. However, for those busy individuals, either make a large salad or 5-6 smaller ones and store them in the fridge and eat gradually. It’s up to you!
But hopefully, this article already helped you to get the best salads at home.