How to Make Low Fat Salads in a Splash

How to Make Low Fat Salads in a Splash

Salads can be one of the best tools to living a healthier lifestyle. Nutritional benefits galore, these garden samplers don’t have to be so redundant and boring. After experimenting with different vegetables and options, I’ve found countless ways to make delicious and low-fat salads. The key is creativity, and in the kitchen, I’ve got a lot of it.

Here’s the no-nonsense guide on how to make low fat salads:

Pick a theme

Salads are boring, overdone and unoriginal if you let them be. To give my salads some excitement, I try to go with different regional themes.

Asian salads with peanuts, orange and crispy rice noodles are delicious with some grilled chicken thrown in. Lemon juice, olives, cucumber and onions are characteristic of Mediterranean salads, another healthful option.

Pretty much every region in the world has its own take on the garden-themed dish, and I’m willing to bet that every kind is as tasty as the next.

Seasonally themed salads are great as well. The best way to get maximum flavor out of your vegetarian friendly dish is to use the highest quality ingredients.

Don’t make a strawberry spinach salad in the middle of winter; wait until summer when strawberries are at their ripest. Picking foods which are at their peak will ensure you always get the most flavor out of any meal.

Make it crunchy

Low Fat Salads in a Splash

Ok, we all know the stereotypes that go along with being called crunchy. When it comes to salads, the more crunchy, the better. Crunchiness adds texture, color and depth to the dish, and in turn makes it more interesting and exciting for our taste buds.

Overloading our greens with croutons is not always the healthiest way to go. They have little to no nutritional value whatsoever and are loaded with carbs and processed ingredients (unless, of course, you make your own).

The best way to add some crunch to your salad in a healthful way is by going nuts. I’m talking about the kind you eat. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts. Am I giving you a bit of a nut overload? Remember to always add these ingredients in moderation, as they are full of good fats, but we all know what happens when we indulge in too much of a good thing.

There is another alternative to using croutons in your salad.  Seeds, such as sunflower seeds, add some crunch in a healthful way. Look for new salad toppers at the grocery store. Always be mindful of what’s on the nutritional label though!

Throw in some fruit

We all know (and dare I say resent?) that person who brings fruit salad to the party. Why do they do it? It always goes untouched, especially when placed next to those chocolate fudge brownies and beautifully decorated cupcakes. Instead of dedicating the entire salad to fruit, take it down a notch and throw just one into your vegetable salads.

When I was traveling in Turkey, I once was served one of the most delicious yet simple salads I’ve ever had the pleasure of digesting. Mixed greens, onions, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and oranges. Yes, I said oranges. These little citrusy and juicy bursts of sweet flavor provided the perfect counterbalance to the bitterness of the rest of the ingredients.

Dried fruits are another great option when it comes to satisfying that naughty sweet tooth in your salads, especially when paired with nuts. Dried cranberries go great with feta cheese and walnuts, dried apricots have great flavor when matched with pistachios, raisins are super tasty with peanuts and carrots or broccoli, and dried cherries are a fabulous partner for almonds.

Heat it up

Not all salads have to be cold! Especially in the winter, warm salads are a great way to turn a normally cold and stark dish into a warm comfort food. Playing around with grains such as quinoa or rice and different winter vegetables is a great way to give your salad a serious makeover, without the longing for those sweet summer months.

Low fat dressings

Low-fat salad dressings are a great way to add flavor to your salads without adding a lot of calories and fat. Here are some options to consider:

  • Balsamic vinegar:

Balsamic vinegar is a flavorful and low-calorie dressing option. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well with many types of salads. You can use it on its own or mix it with a little bit of olive oil for added flavor.

  • Lemon juice:

Lemon juice is a low-calorie and refreshing option for salad dressings. It’s especially good on salads with fruits and vegetables like cucumber or tomato.

  • Mustard:

Mustard is a low-fat and flavorful option for salad dressings. You can mix it with vinegar or lemon juice to create a tangy dressing that pairs well with leafy greens.

  • Greek yogurt:

Greek yogurt is a low-fat and protein-rich alternative to traditional salad dressings. You can mix it with herbs and spices to create a creamy dressing that’s also low in calories.

  • Salsa:

Salsa is a low-calorie and flavorful option for dressing salads. It’s particularly good on salads with beans or grilled chicken.

  • Apple cider vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar is a low-calorie and tangy option for salad dressings. It pairs well with salads that have a sweeter flavor profile, like fruit salads or salads with roasted vegetables.

  • Hummus:

Hummus is a low-fat and protein-rich option for dressing salads. You can mix it with lemon juice or vinegar to create a tangy dressing that’s also creamy and flavorful.

Make your own dressing

Low Fat Salads in a Splash

Play around with the ingredients and tailor it to the type of salad you’d like to eat. My personal go-to is a combination of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. When I make Asian salads, I substitute orange juice for the lemon and sesame or peanut oil for the EVOO. Food is fun, and playing around with your salad dressings is a great way to have fun with it.

So, experiment with making your own dressings using ingredients like vinegar, herbs, and spices to create a flavor profile that you love.

I used to despise salads. Even the word itself made me cringe. Now, I’ve gained a new outlook on a food group that I incorporate into my diet nearly every day. Keeping it new and exciting, and undergoing an infinite series of makeovers, has led me to love indulging in my bowl chock full of veggies. How do you make your low fat salads interesting?

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About the author

Alexandra Sheehan

Alex is a self-proclaimed nomad, having lived in three different countries over the past two years. When she isn’t cooking or traveling, you can find Alex curled up with a book, at the gym, or cheering on her favorite football team.

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