One of the easiest healthy meals to eat, especially when the weather is hot, is a salad. Salads are a great way to get loads of vegetables onto your plate, whether you enjoy them as a side dish or as a full meal, filling you up with fewer calories.
However, standard garden salads can get a bit dull and the temptation to put more unhealthy dressings and toppings on your salad can get strong. This can mean that they aren’t as healthy as you might think, even if they are more interesting than simple lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
Luckily, there are ways you can dress up a salad to keep this healthy meal interesting and low on calories. Here are a few options to try out to help mix up your diet and still get your five a day:
The Mediterranean diet is fantastic for keeping you healthy and giving you an excuse to eat fresh food made with fantastic ingredients. This is probably why the Greek salad is still a really popular option. As well as being tasty, this salad is also really easy to make, including a lot of different textures and flavours to ensure you don’t get bored of it easily.
To make a Greek-inspired salad, simply chop lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, red peppers, olives and parsley before crumbling feta over it all. Make a light dressing using extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and seasoning. Pour some of this over the salad and mix everything together.
If feta isn’t your thing, try grilled halloumi with this salad instead, which is also a great way to bulk it out a bit.
Spicy shrimp salad
Shrimp is a fantastic low-fat protein that can be eaten hot or cold, giving you a few options for your salad. You can also cook shrimp really quickly, so it doesn’t make your easy and fast dinner much more complicated.
To make a great shrimp salad that has plenty of flavour, cook raw shrimp with a splash of oil, some crushed garlic or garlic powder, cayenne and chilli powder. Either leave them to cool or pop them on a plate with sliced avocados, baby spinach, cucumber and a drizzle of lime juice.
This is the perfect option if you want something a bit more filling and is easy to make ahead for a quick lunch.
Warm bacon salad
Salads aren’t just for warm days – you can also enjoy warmed varieties when something cosy and filling is needed. This is also a great way to mix your salads up and try something new.
If you’re a fan of bacon, this is definitely a salad you need to try, although you should be sure to trim all the fat off your rashers and grill then rather than fry them to make them healthier. While your bacon is cooking, steam some spinach until it is wilted but still has some crunch. You can add a dressing made of shallots, vinegar and olive oil for extra flavour.
Once your spinach and bacon are ready, cut the bacon into smaller pieces and stir it into the salad. You can also add pine nuts for another texture and a boiled egg, which works best if the yolk is still a bit soft.
Pesto isn’t just for pasta, it also serves as a great alternative to salad dressings, adding a really lovely fresh taste – especially if you make your healthy pesto yourself. It may seem like pesto is complicated as it can include a lot of ingredients, but seeing as you just throw them all in a blender, it’s actually really simple.
Simply blend spinach, basil, pine nuts, garlic cloves, olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan or an alternative hard cheese until smooth. You can either use this straight away, freeze it or jar it up ready for later use.
Once you have your pesto, you can use it in a huge number of salads. For something filling, try stirring it into chickpeas, which you can serve up with feta or goat cheese, red onions, black olives, tomatoes and cucumber.