Don’t assume all salads are great for dieting. Many popular dressings and toppings are not particularly nutritious and some can easily pile on 500 or more extra calories. Here are some ways to fix a salad that’s delicious, nutritious, filling, and very waist-friendly.
Opt for Dark Greens
With leafy greens as your foundation you get a lot of food volume for minimal calories. Go for darker greens because these contain a lot more nutrients and belly-filling fiber. Pale greens like romaine and iceberg lettuce contain a paltry 0.95 grams and 0.77 grams of fiber respectively. Compare that to a cup of endive lettuce boasting 1.5 grams of fiber or mixed greens with 1 gram of dietary fiber.
Add Lean Protein
Lean protein is the perfect complement to a bed of greens, and grilled chicken, lean meats, shrimp, salmon, and scallops, are all great choices. Protein is naturally filling, plus your body needs it for building and maintaining healthy muscle tissue.
Make it Colorful
A vegetable’s color says a lot about the nutrients inside. So it makes sense that a colorful salad provides a wider variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For a nutrition-packed salad that’s satisfying and easy on calories, choose a colorful mix of non-starchy veggies, such as artichokes, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes, and high-fiber beans, such as lentils and garbanzos.
Creamy dressings are delicious, but most contain enough fat to turn your salad into a calorie bomb. For a dressing that’s far lighter and still bursting with flavor, make your own vinaigrette by mixing two tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs and spices.
Tossed, not Chopped
A salad that’s chopped into small bits isn’t as satisfying as a chunkier tossed salad. That’s because a tossed salad takes more time to chew and digest. Eating slowly lets you fill up comfortably and enjoy the delicious taste and texture of your salad.
For delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes and tips on healthy eating, drinking and losing weight, check out my latest book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber and The F-Factor Diet. Subscribe to Tanya’s free weekly newsletter and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest,and LinkedIn