How to make salads interesting

A well-prepared and well-thought out salad can be a substitute to a full meal. Here’s how!

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How to make salads interesting

They are a great way to add vegetables and greens to our diets without adding a lot of calories. A common notion is that if you are eating a salad it is healthy but depending on what you put into it, salads can be calorie bombs too. Heavy cream based and store bought dressings (like mayo) taste great but defeat the purpose of eating healthy. For dressings use olive oil lemon juice, garlic, spices - keep it light. Fruits and salads can make a mini-meal with the inclusion of all food groups. When we go out to eat, those who are watching their weight, would rather order a healthy salad. A green salad with low oil healthy dressing is the best choice. Add a sprinkling of salt and lemon juice on the table and consume immediately. Special chef-style salads are high in saturated fat, thanks to all that cream and cheese.  Also avoid the Caesar’s salad because it has an egg-based dressing, fried croutons and cheese:  all high in both fat and cholesterol. A well-prepared and well-thought out salad can be a substitute to a full meal. Here’s how!

Tips for a good salad

Pick a fresh base

Green leafy vegetables like lettuce, radish leaves, cabbage, spinach should be bought fresh. Choose leaves that are crisp. This sort of base ensures fibre, minerals, iron, Vitamin A in plenty. A Greek Salad is a great example of loaded leafy salad.

Add a main ingredient

Pasta, boiled rice, burghul, meat, cut vegetables, chuks of paneer and tofu cubes, fruits, raisins, nuts, legumes, grains, pulses, sprouts will give you carbohydrates, some protein, fat-soluble vitamins and essential amino acids. Pasta salads and the likes mentioned above can be a complete meal.

Be choosy about dressing

Forget the cream and mayonnaise, it can make salads a calorie bomb. Vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, hung yogurt, fruit juice, wine are excellent choices. Besides flavour, dressings add moisture, taste and seasoning to the salad making it more palatable. They also enhance the nutritive value adding vitamins and antioxidants.

Add texture

Almonds, walnuts, pinenuts, sunflower seeds, basil seeds, chia seeds, raisins, pistachios, melon seeds all have a unique taste of their own and can be a healthy addition to any salad. Go one step ahead and caramalize them for a whole crunchy sweet new dimension, like this Chilli Bean and Caramelized Walnut Salad. Also do not miss out micro greens - finish off your salad with a handful of them and you’ve got taste, texture,  health and presentation all taken care of in one little step. You read all about them here.

Presentation is key

You eat with your eyes first, so make sure your salad is pretty looking. Pick cutlery with care – the bowl in which the salad is being served should be large enough to hold the salad comfortably. Do not cut up the ingredients so they are so big that they need to be cut while eating the salad and not so small that the juices and flavours are lost. You can also pack your salad in a jar!

Tips for healthier salads

  • Always use fresh local and seasonal grown vegetables and fruits.
  • If possible, consume most of them with skin as maximum nutrients are found below the skin. But make sure you wash them well.
  • Never season or dress the salad in advance. The freshness of the ingredients is lost and they will be soggy when you serve them. Always dress salads just before serving.
  •  Include avocado from time to time. Although it is relatively high in fat (though mostly monounsaturated fat), it’s also packed with nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. 
  • Use nuts occasionally and sparingly. Almonds and walnuts contain heart-healthy fats and add a pleasing crunch and texture to salads.
  • Make your own croutons using day-old bread sprinkled with dried herbs and baked on a baking sheet greased with olive oil.

Some amazing Salad recipes for you!