Fresh spins on classic salads
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
We give classic salads a makeover! Toss together healthy, modern versions of popular salads.
Salads are often associated with a healthy lifestyle. After all, how can you go wrong with a dish dominated by vegetables? But many salad favourites—potato, Caesar, Cobb—haven’t earned this health halo. Although seemingly a better option than a burger and fries, these salads can quickly turn into high-calorie concoctions. Buried beneath sketchy ingredients such as fried chicken and candied nuts, restaurant versions can harbour hidden fat and sodium. Many standby salads have also been turned into culinary has-beens, regrettable victims of mediocre ingredients and uninspiring renditions. That’s why we think it’s the perfect time to freshen up some iconic salads. Raise the salad bar with the following recipes, which turn old favourites into modern, slimmed-down versions that won’t sabotage your healthy eating habits. Dressed for success Fats found in dressings can make it easier for your body to absorb fat-soluble antioxidants such as lycopene and lutein, which are naturally present in vegetables. But nix lacklustre store-bought dressings that can include a laundry list of ingredients not found in most kitchens, and instead opt for homemade versions. A great dressing is just about the simplest thing you can put together. Simply start with a healthy oil base, such as extra-virgin olive, camelina, or avocado oil, along with a vinegar of choice. Then whisk in flavourings such as Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, chopped shallots, miso, garlic, or citrus zest. Recipes
Selecting a super salad Just because your restaurant meal is green doesn’t mean it’s lean. In too many restaurant salads, less-than-stellar ingredients overpower the veggies. But if chosen wisely, a salad can be your best friend when eating out, helping you stockpile many disease-fighting nutrients. Follow these guidelines to transform a green monster into a super salad. Greens: Seek out salads made with leafy dark greens and plenty of other colours—a sign that you are loading up on ultra-healthy antioxidants. Don’t be too shy to ask your server for extra veggies. Proteins: Watch out for questionable proteins such as bacon and fried chicken. Instead, fortify your salad with healthier proteins such as grilled fish or chicken breast, beans, or hard-boiled eggs. Fats: Don’t necessarily fear the fat. Items such as almonds and avocado can infuse a salad with necessary healthy fatty acids. The key is portion control. If your salad comes with a mound of avocado slices or seeds, be prepared to take home leftovers. Grains: A number of forward-thinking restaurants are now offering salads made with power whole grains such as farro and quinoa. We think the reign of grains is a great trend. Garnishes: Be leery of finishing touches such as fried croutons, processed cheeses, candied nuts, bacon bits, and fried noodles. They can seem rather innocuous but deliver a wallop of extra calories. Dressings: Creamy dressings can quickly cause the calorie count of salads to skyrocket. Instead, be sure to select vinaigrettes made with little more than oil and vinegar.