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10 Ways to Make Your Salad Healthier

10 Ways to Make Your Salad Healthier

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Simple and easy foods and methods to making your salad healthier

10 Ways to Make Your Salad Healthier

If you decide to have a salad for lunch or dinner today, you’re already making a healthy eating choice. A hearty salad can easily be a substitute for heavier entrees, while providing all the necessary nutrients you need to sustain a happy and active lifestyle. But not all salads are the same. What you add or don’t add to your salad can be a deciding factor in its healthiness. Click on the slideshow below for simple ways to make your salad work for you.

To start, your choice of greens can play a big role in maximizing the healthiness of your salad. Adding dark leafy greens such as kale or spinach to a salad will provide nutrients such as vitamin K, which according to Dr. Andrew Weil “Is an essential nutrient necessary for responding to injuries.” Adding lean meats such as salmon to your salad can cut back on calories while contributing much needed protein to your diet.

There are easy techniques you can use that give flavor without adding unnecessary fats; substitutions you may never have considered can turn a dull salad into something you will be excited about come lunch and dinnertime. Adding more vegetables can bulk up a salad without adding unwanted calories.

If you’re looking for healthier ways to season a salad, try replacing your go-to dressing with lemon and olive oil. Give your salad a spicy touch without adding calories by adding sliced radishes. A healthy salad doesn’t have to be boring. With just a few changes, you’ll be surprised at how healthy, and delicious your next salad can be.

Jonathan Hirsch is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @jonathanihirsch.

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Bagged Salad Taste So Much Better

Bagged salad is a super easy thing to grab off the shelf at the supermarket if you're looking to incorporate more greens into your diet. But when you get back home and you don't have much more than a bag of leaves it can feel a little uninspired. To learn how to make your bagged salad taste better, we spoke to to Kate Merker, the Chief Food Director at a number of Hearst magazines, who shared some ideas that will take your bagged salad to the next level. Of course, Merker recommends throwing in whatever veggies you have to your salad to make it more delicious and nutritious, but if you want something that feels like you've achieved Sweetgreen-level salads from your bagged salad starter, here's what she recommends.

If you want a crunch and some sweetness: sunflower seeds and dried cranberries

If you want something heartier: Crispy onions, blue cheese, and tomatoes

If you want something Mediterranean- inspired: Pita chips, artichoke hearts, and olives

If you want some Tex-Mex: Tortilla chips, cilantro, and avocado

If you're looking for adventurous flavors: Golden raisins, feta, and dill

If you want simple, but exciting: Toasted sliced almonds and sliced scallion

If you want something classic: Apples, walnuts, and parmesan

If you want to kick it up a notch: White beans, salami, and roasted red peppers

If you want a trip to Flavortown: Pepitas, chickpeas, and red onions

If you want to spice up your life: Mixed herbs &mdash chives, basil, and dill

With each of these fun ways to take your bagged salad to the next level, Kate tried to stay simple and make sure prep was minimal. After all, if you're getting a bagged salad you probably don't want to be putting in too much extra leg work. And there's no shame in that! You don't have to work too hard to have a super tasty salad at your fingertips. You can avoid all the chopping and slicing and still end up with a salad that's nutritious and tasty enough to want to make again.

And if you're worried about the greens going bad when you can't use the whole bag of salad, no need to fear. This genius trick on Marie Saba's Instagram, could make save the day.

It's So. Freaking. Simple. Just add a paper towel, and all that pesky moisture that destroys your fresh lettuce is absorbed&mdashvoila!&mdashyou can enjoy your bagged greens for much longer.

Between keeping your bagged salad greens fresh for longer with this crafty trick, and all of these tasty and easy combinations of ingredients to amp things up, boring bagged salads will be a thing of the past, and you'll be the new sheriff of Saladtown.

Roasted cauliflower with cashew, tahini and honey-garlic dressing

The honey-garlic dressing balances perfectly with the nuttiness of the cashews and tahini &mdash Photo courtesy of The Food Channel

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. You can rice it, use it as a gluten replacement and even batter and fry it to make a "buffalo" bite. But the classic way to enjoy cauliflower is to roast it. This salad puts the cauliflower center stage, with complementary ingredients that make this antioxidant-rich vegetable sweet and nutty.

10 Healthy Ways to Dress a Naked Salad Without Salt (or Gluten!)

Jessica Goldman Foung of Sodium Girl has an unusual dilemma, for a young and otherwise healthy woman: She can eat almost no sodium. She is on a mission to make low-sodium eating delicious — and today she offers her best tips on dressing a salad without salt, gluten, or other allergens.

Let me ask you this question: What are three things you’re carrying in your bag this instant? Now let me make this guess: You didn’t answer salad dressing. Right? For most people, carrying a bottle of vinaigrette seems like a strange idea.But for those of us with food allergies and dietary restrictions, smuggling sauces in one’s purse (or murse) isn’t so far fetched. How do you dress a salad at home, or at a restaurant, when you can’t eat much salt, not to mention gluten and other allergens?

For those with food limitations, menus often only offer one safe option: Salad. A plate of dry, leafy greens and plain, fresh vegetables will fit into any dietary framework. But to make it a dish with substance, it requires some outside help, making that stowaway dressing essential.

But if you’re not ready to tote around a bottle of homemade Caesar and you don’t want to settle for a bland salad either, there are some simple tricks to dress up any salad without any dressing. Using standard restaurant staples — beyond just the olive oil and vinegar — you can give plain greens a lot of life.

I would be shocked to find a restaurant that doesn’t have fresh citrus stocked in the kitchen or at the bar. Ask for a side of slices of lemon, lime, or even oranges and squeeze the juice over your greens. Or push boundaries by mixing a little grapefruit or orange juice with olive oil and black pepper for a dressing made table-side.

Fried or poached, a runny yolk adds color, creaminess, and (bonus!) protein to your salad.

If you’re lucky enough to live or eat in a city filled with fresh avocado, make use of it! Slice it up or smash the green fruit before it hits the salad. The smooth, guacamole-like texture will help those veggies go down.

Their seeds and juice add slickness to your salad. Not to mention extra texture.

Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries
Let the juices flow and ask for a side of fruit. When mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the sweetness of berries or melon will brighten up the salad and add fun bursts of texture.

A spoonful of honey mixed with olive oil and citrus will prove satisfying for your salad. Especially if you’re lucky enough to add protein (steak, chicken, shrimp) to those veggies.

Peanut Butter
Everyone has a kid’s menu and almost every kid’s menu has peanut butter and jelly. If you can eat nuts, a little peanut butter mixed with olive oil will make a peanut sauce dressing that wakes up a simple plate of vegetables.

Spicy Peppers
Don’t be afraid to ask for a side of sliced jalapenos or red chili pepper flakes. Peppers add perk.

Fresh herbs will brighten up any salad. With added citrus, olive oil, and even berries, you might even end up with a dish so colorful and inviting that it lands a permanent spot on the menu.

Other ideas…
If you’re ready to tote ingredients in your purse, don’t forget about Greek yogurt and individual packets of tahini or peanut butter. Both options are not only packable but also lend tang and texture to vegetables and greens.

Greens - Look for dark, leafy lettuces like romaine, spinach or arugula. If you have access to fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano or mint, they add zest and extra nutrients to your salad bowl.

Proteins - Add more satisfaction to your salad with skinless poultry or fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring. Mix in a chopped hard-boiled egg or a small amount cheese (choose lower-fat, lower-sodium cheeses such as mozzarella or Swiss). Toss in a can of chickpeas, kidney, navy or black beans (choose low-sodium or no-salt-added and drain and rinse thoroughly). Unsalted nuts, like peanuts, almonds and walnuts, give your salad extra crunch and a dose of healthy fat. All these protein foods will keep you feeling fuller longer.

Fruits - Slice up fresh fruit that is in season or on sale &ndash choose a rainbow of colors! If you are using fruit canned in juice or frozen, thoroughly drain and pat dry so your leafy greens don&rsquot get soggy. Dried fruits without added sugars are another super salad ingredient.

Extra Veggies - Raw vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower add great crunch and color. Roasted veggies like beets, potatoes or squash add terrific flavor and a little bit of sweetness to any main meal salad.

Grains - Warm or cold whole grains add bulk and satisfaction. Try whole wheat couscous, barley, quinoa, bulgur or wild rice. To save money, look for whole grains in the bulk aisle of your grocery store. Whole wheat pastas are also an inexpensive way to bulk up any basic salad.

Dressings - With oil, vinegar and spices in your pantry, you are minutes away from a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing. Jazz it up with tasty ingredients like chopped fresh herbs diced veggies with lots of flavor, like onions, garlic or scallions and/or a squeeze of citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime.) Experiment by adding small amounts of those add-ins to the following vinaigrette recipe, taste testing as you go.

Easy vinaigrette recipe:

Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil or canola oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and ¼ teaspoon ground mustard. Add a dash or two of black pepper and toss into a salad for four or more people.

Eggs are an inexpensive and effective way to give your salad a solid protein boost each egg has approximately six grams of protein. An added bonus, topping your plate with eggs might even inspire you to eat more veggies than you normally would: Purdue University researchers found that when study volunteers ate salads with three cooked eggs, they absorbed 4.5 to 7.5 times more vitamin E from the accompanying vegetables than when they ate egg-free greens.

Not into eggs on top of your greens? Feel free to eat them on the side with your salad — you’ll get the same filling benefit.

6. Don’t Overdo the Grilled Veggies

When it comes to grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and portobello mushrooms, a little goes a long way. They tend to be heavier than their raw counterparts𠅊nd I’ve found that they can add more weight to your salad if piled on liberally. Why? Grilling is a high and dry heat cooking method that draws the moisture out of food, causing it to shrink down. You’re also adding oil, which adds weight. Portobello mushrooms seem to be the most affected by this, and I’ve often found myself taking more than I really need.

Blend it All Up

If you really can’t handle the texture of salads, you can blend them up into soup! You’ll still get all the nutrients a good salad has to offer without having to deal with the texture. Just throw all the ingredients you plan to make your salad with into a blender and mix away until everything is smooth and creamy. Adding some fat like nuts or avocado will help create a decadent texture that you probably won’t be able to get enough of. Maybe you’re in the mood for some creamy Thai coconut soup, or a little tomato and red pepper soup? The options are limitless!

10. Fiesta Mexican Bean and Organic Corn Casserole

If casseroles seem a little too far out of your wheelhouse, give this one a try. It's a make-ahead and freezer-ready meal that only needs reheating in the microwave.

On board? Using canned kidney beans with the eggs takes the protein factor up higher.

Dark red kidney beans hold up well to freezing and, according to a November 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, dark red kidney beans contain quercetin. Quercetin is a polyphenol present in many plant foods and it may help reduce inflammation, according to March 2016 research published in Nutrients.

Get the Fiesta Mexican Bean and Organic Corn Casserole recipe and nutrition info here.


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