It's not just fresh ingredients! A healthy salad is just like any complete meal and includes the top three essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and satisfied: fiber, protein and healthy fat. Unfortunately, there are a lot of imposters that mimc healthy salad ingredients, which is why, you need to know more about what's essential and what to avoid.
Learn more and follow the highlighted links below to my 9 favorite healthy salad recipes!
Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Chickpeas or Quinoa are my top selections for a fiber rich salad foundation. Brussel Sprouts are newly popular as a foundation for salad when they are shredded. I've tried to shred my own and it's a bit tricky and dangerous. That's why, now I'll buy them pre-shredded in a bag.
Beans, legumes, and whole grains like Quinoa, naturally include protein, along with the fiber. Which is another reason why, these fiber-filled ingredients are the top picks as foundations for every salad, when I want to build a complete meal.
Avocado, olives, cheese and nuts are my favorite natural, healthy fat toppings that add moisture and flavor. With at least one of these, there's no need for dressing!
Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be used on its own for a healthy dressing. Learn how to find the best, real EVOO, because then you also get the natural taste the oil is intended to deliver.
Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing were always favorites of mine. Now, instead, I use fresh blue cheese and crumble it into 1-2 Tbs. of Full-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt or Full-Fat Sour Cream and toss that throughout my salad. And for Ranch-Flavor fresh chives do the trick. Then I get the same texture from a creamy dressing, without the unhealthy smuggles.
WHAT TO AVOID:
Dried fruit is processed fruit and because the sugar content is increased it is unhealthy. The "drying" or dehydrating process transforms fruit into highly concentrated sugar that will spike blood sugar and pack on the human belly as fat. Naturally, fruit doesn't dry, it rots. Skip dried fruit and only add fresh fruit or frozen fruits to salads!
Candied or Flavored Nuts commonly included added sugar or sweeteners dusted to coat them, as well as, other unhealthy smuggles like yeast and monosodium glutamate. Only add nuts that are lightly salted or plain, unsalted.
Croutons, Chips, and Tortillas are all fast acting, starchy carbohydrates that will spike blood sugar. These are processed foods that are commonly packed with the same smuggles found in candied or flavored nuts, which means they'll trigger overeating by stimulating the tongue and brain.
Bottled Dressing sold on the store shelf is typically high-fructose corn syrup in a bottle, fake fillers and thickeners, along with the other stimulating substances already mentioned. That's why, it's best to make your own or use the suggestions provided above to dress salad.
Bagged Salad sold in the produce section, typically includes at least two or more of the "What to Avoid" items listed above, which is why, they're not considered a "healthy food", they are essentially fast-food, easy and convenient, tasty, but not healthy. Just like any unhealthy food, on occasion, they are okay as an exception, but you don't want to make them a part of your day-to-day eating.