15 Low-Calorie Tips for Making Salads Really Taste Good

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When you think about eating healthy food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Salad, right?

If you’re trying to eat a little more cleanly, you don’t need to build your entire meal plan around salads, but they can certainly be a nutritious and low-calorie option for lunch and dinner.

If you’re like many people, you’re probably not a huge fan of salads, making it hard to incorporate them into your lifestyle.

Never be afraid! If you’re new to clean eating and struggling to make it work, I’ve put together some absolutely delicious ways to make salads taste good (without overwhelming the calories).

To make a salad taste good, add more flavor and extra texture. Use controlled amounts of dressings, fresh herbs, and spices to make the flavors pop; while adding grains, seeds, and legumes can really enhance a salad and make it more satisfying to eat.

But we’re going to cover all of them in more detail below—15 healthy, delicious salad tricks in all!

let’s go!


1. Add the dressing (or make your own)

Adding seasoning is often like dropping a calorie bomb on your “healthy” meal.

Just two small tablespoons of full-fat ranch or blue cheese dressing can add over 150 calories to your salad.

Wow!

Instead, opt for oil and vinegar-based dressings, which have fewer calories and more healthy fats.

A healthy dose of vinaigrette or raspberry dressing can really make a salad pop.

(You can also opt for a low-fat version of the creamy dressing, such as ranch.

Another great option is to make your own salad dressing at home. It’s not difficult, and you can control the amount of each ingredient, making it easier to create slightly healthier versions of your favorite fatty dressings.


2. Add fresh herbs

If you’ve added just the right amount of dressing, but you feel your salad is still lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, consider adding some fresh herbs for more aroma and flavor.

The best herbs to add to salads are:

  • Basil  – pairs well with tomatoes
  • Parsley  – slightly bitter, pairs well with lemon zest
  • Dill  – perfect if you opted for a healthy creamy dressing
  • Cilantro  – brings a delicious Mexican or Southwestern vibe to salads; great with avocados, corn, and beans

There are many other herbs to choose from here.

Don’t limit yourself to plain old lettuce and greens!

A few pinches of herbs can really add flavor to your dishes.


3. Add grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes

I mentioned at the top of this article that in addition to adding new flavors to a salad, you might really enjoy playing with its texture.

Adding grains, nuts, seeds and legumes is a great way to make a salad feel heartier and more satisfying without adding too many calories.

Brown rice and quinoa really thicken up salads and give you some extra whole grains and fiber in your diet.

Almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds give you a super satisfying crunch and in many cases a little extra protein!

Don’t forget your beans. A few chickpeas or black beans will really give your dish extra protein, more flavor and a satisfying texture.

Especially with grains and legumes, you need to use a light touch or even a food scale to make sure you know how many extra calories are in your salad.

In most cases, the flavor and health benefits are totally worth the extra calories.


4. Add some cheese (not too much!

Want to add more protein and healthy fats to your salads?

Throw some cheese on top!

(Oh, and did I mention that cheese makes everything delicious?

A few sprinkles of Parmesan go a long way, and there are only 122 calories in a full ounce, which includes 10+ grams of protein!

Chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese are another great option, possibly one of the tastiest ingredients around.

What about goat cheese? Don’t even get me started. tasty.


5. Add lean protein

My go-to way to enhance a salad is to add plenty of lean protein.

Grilled chicken, shrimp, and salmon are some of the healthiest, tastiest proteins you can add.

This will make your salads fuller, more satisfying, and actually healthier!

Meat definitely adds some calories, so measure carefully, but the added protein is a huge bonus—especially if you’re exercising.


6. Add avocado

The health benefits of avocados are well documented.

They’re not the lowest-calorie option on the planet, but they’re packed with healthy fats, fiber, and potassium.

A whole avocado contains about 250-300 calories, depending on its size, but the flavor and texture it adds to a salad really make the whole experience more enjoyable.

(If your salad has more calories but keeps you fuller and satisfied for longer, then it’s a worthwhile trade-off!


7. Add hard-boiled eggs

Talk about boosting the protein in your salads!

Hard-boiled eggs aren’t for everyone, but they’re one of my all-time favorite salad ingredients.

Its soft texture pairs well with crunchy lettuce and vinaigrette.

Adding a hard-boiled egg to your salad will only add about 75 calories, but will give you a nice boost of 6 grams of protein and plenty of key vitamins.


8. Add seasonal fruit

On average, fruits are tastier than vegetables.

Can we agree on this?

It might seem strange at first, but adding a bit of fruit to a vegetable-heavy salad can really add an amazing amount of sweetness.

Try adding:

  • strawberry
  • raspberry
  • apricot
  • blueberry
  • pear
  • Cranberries

And that’s just the beginning.

You’ll want to pick fruit based on what’s in season and what vegetables you choose for your salad. Here’s a nifty guide to get you started.


9. Add some steamed vegetables

You’ve heard of adding greens to salads (duh), but have you ever thought about steaming them first?

If the grassy crunch of your salad puts you off, consider steaming some of your favorite ingredients before adding them for a softer texture and more concentrated flavor.

best choice:

  • corn
  • carrot
  • broccoli

The easiest way? Place vegetables in a steaming basket or strainer over a pot of boiling water.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the vegetables steam for about 3 minutes, or until they are tender.


10. Pickle vegetables in a healthy beer

If you’re using an oil and vinegar dressing, you can let the salad rest in the dressing.

Put it in the fridge for 24 hours or so and you’ll be amazed by the results!

The greens will wilt and become softer, not to mention they will be packed with flavor.

Any other veggies you add will also soak up incredible flavor and lose their aggressive crunch.

Here’s a super easy pickled salad recipe that uses cauliflower, tomatoes, cherry peppers, and zucchini for a delicious summer vibe.

You can also just pickle your veggies, like lettuce or spinach, before adding the other dry ingredients.


11. Add savory spices

Seasonings are often low in calories, so feel free to use them!

A little Cajun, garlic salt, curry powder, cumin or paprika will add tons of flavor to a simple salad without increasing the calorie count.

Try unique combinations here to find what suits your taste!


12. Mix salads and turn them into soups

If you’re just having serious trouble eating salad on a regular basis, you might prefer salad in soup form!

Boil all ingredients, add some low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, season well, and mash that puppy!

You end up with a salad soup that is super creamy, delicious and healthy.

Here are some very helpful instructions on how to do this from Epicurious.


13. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the vegetables before dressing

To really get the most out of a salad, it’s sometimes best to combine many of the techniques on this list.

Before adding seasoning, try seasoning your vegetables, even with just salt and pepper.

This will help ensure that every bite is packed with flavor and you don’t have to rely on oily or creamy sauces and those extra calories.


14. Mix greens together for more texture

Romaine lettuce is a great green base for salads, but for more variety and texture, you can include a variety of greens.

Try a mix of:

  • lettuce
  • kale
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • watercress

Feel free to mix and match.

Each, while similar, has a slightly different taste and amount of crunch!


15. Toss the salad to get even coverage!

There’s nothing worse than making a delicious salad, drizzled delicately over the dressing, and then biting into a completely dry salad.

Drizzle your dressing or leaving it on the side is great for presentation and portion control, but toss the salad thoroughly before serving and you’ll get the deepest, richest flavor results.

You can still use much dressing with measure and intention, just make sure to get full coverage of all ingredients!


Summarize

There you have it, all my best ideas for flavoring your salads and adding extra texture.

Don’t add too many calories.

Yes, in some cases, you may need to add some calories to really enjoy your salad, but you can’t go wrong if you choose ingredients that bring extra protein, fiber, or healthy carbohydrates to the table.

Let me know in the comments if you think some of these tips will help you create healthier, tastier meals.

Let me know if I’ve missed any key tips!

Hope this helps everyone.

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