If you’re a health fanatic, you probably love salads as much as we do. Yes, chicken and broccoli, salmon and couscous are a great high-protein meal to keep you on track of your health goals, but eating the same thing over and over again can get boring after a while. Salads, on the other hand, can be extremely versatile – think of any ingredient combination, and we’ll guarantee that you can make a delicious salad out of them.
However, the key here is to have the right dressing to bring all the ingredients together in a delicious medley of flavors. But be cautious about your choice of dressing since some of the popular ones on the market are packed with unhealthy fat, sugar and excess calories which defeat the purpose of a healthy salad. Here are our top recommendations for dressing your salad the right way.
Extra virgin olive oil is a great ingredient to incorporate in your salads. It is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats and studies show that the olive oil has a ton of health benefits including reducing inflammation, delaying signs of aging and lowering the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and obesity. You may think that the high caloric content of extra virgin olive oil makes it a bad food choice on a weight-loss diet but doctors say that EVOO doesn’t really cause weight-gain, if anything, it will actually help you drop a few pounds!
To make a delicious vinaigrette dressing for your salad, simply add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and EVOO each and mix it with Italian herbs and a teaspoon of mustard paste.
Tahini is a common ingredient used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods, but you can definitely add it to your salad as a creamy, dairy-free alternative to ranch or Thousand Island dressing. Tahini has a slightly nutty flavor because of the sesame seeds in it which are toasted and then ground into a paste.
To make a delicious tahini dressing, mix two tablespoons of tahini with one tablespoon of lemon juice and water each to thin it out. Now add your preferred flavorings. Our favorites are minced garlic and cayenne pepper.
Guacamole works well with everything: tacos, tortilla chips, nachos and even salads. This popular condiment uses avocados which are one of the best sources of healthy fats and pack a ton of antioxidants to fight aging and inflammation. So try adding guac to your salad. It is super easy to make and packed with fiber, magnesium, and potassium as well as 20 other minerals and vitamins.
The high-fat content of avocado ensures that you stay full for at least five hours, reducing the risk of overeating or gaining weight. They promote the absorption of healthy HDL cholesterol whereas reducing the ‘bad’ LDL levels, which eventually helps in managing blood pressure.
If you have some time to spare in the kitchen, we highly recommend making your own homemade guacamole instead of buying the store-bought variety which can contain preservatives, sodium, and even artificial flavoring. To make your own guac, simply mash together the flesh of one ripe avocado with a tablespoon of vinegar and fresh lemon juice, one clove of garlic, finely minced and salt and pepper to taste.
While we’re on the subject of healthy, dairy-free dressings, here’s another option you can try with your Mediterranean salad bowls: hummus. While there is no one way to make this condiment, classic hummus is made with boiled chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and seasonings of choice. This dressing option will add a creamy element to your salad and keep you satisfied for hours after your meal.
Studies show that the high nutrient content in chickpeas and hummus help people consume fewer calories, and hence making them 53 percent less likely to become overweight or obese. Government data also shows that hummus eaters also have lower BMIs and waist measurements in comparison to non-hummus eaters. There are plenty of hummus brands on the market if you don’t have the time to make your own. When picking out store-bought hummus, make sure to go with a brand that uses no preservatives, excess sodium or any other ingredients that are hard to pronounce.