All salads are slimming, right? Not exactly. If you’re trying to lose weight, replacing your lunchtime sandwich with a salad is certainly a step in the right direction. But not all salads are created equal. Knowing exactly what’s gone into your food is key if you want to avoid those common diet pitfalls. This is especially the case when you’re eating out. For instance, did you know that the pecan-crusted chicken salad at TGI Friday’s has over 1,000 calories per plate? Not only that, but there’s around 71g of fat (16g saturated), 76g of carbs and 38g of sugar in there too.
The best way to ensure your salad is low fat, low carb and low sugar is to make it yourself at home. If you’re bringing salads to work, you can even prep them a few days in advance, as long as you store your salad correctly and keep the dressing separate. Making your own lunch will also save you money and help you stay regimented with your food intake.
Here are some healthy salad recipes for weight loss - all nutritious, delicious-tasting and packed with energy to keep you going for the day.
Greek yoghurt tuna salad
Tuna nicoise seems innocent enough, but did you know that it’s loaded with mayo?This is one of the best salad recipes for weight loss because it has a fat-free Greek yoghurt alternative. To make the dressing, combine yogurt, Dijon mustard, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add a dash of extra virgin olive oil and set aside until you’re ready to serve your salad.
Make the nicoise as standard with fresh gem lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, black olives, tuna, crushed garlic and finely chopped basil. For the eggs, skip the yolk and go with egg whites only.
Mango chicken chipotle salad
A protein powerhouse, chicken is a lean source of energy. The type of slow-burning energy that will keep you going at work and give you a boost for the gym. A mango chipotle salad is the perfect lunchtime dish as it’s healthy, satisfying and full of flavour - helping you beat those cravings and keeping you away from the vending machine.
Juicy mango is the perfect way to sweeten up any dish, and it’s loaded with vitamin C to stave of cold and flu viruses. It also helps to lower LDL levels, ensuring the bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries is kept under control. This salad combines the freshness of mango with bold flavours like coriander and onion to really set off those taste buds. Set on a bed of romaine lettuce and add black beans if you want a protein boost. To make a marinade for the chicken, you’ll need chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, garlic and lime juice.
Artichoke heart salad
If you’re looking for a flat belly, a green artichoke salad could be the perfect packed lunch. Not only is this salad made for a healthy gut and anti-bloating, it’s also dairy free, nut free, soy free, gluten free, and meat free. It is high in fibre, can help boost your immune system, and slows down ageing.
It’s a simple salad to make. First combine vinegar, mustard, shallots and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in some oil until the whole thing is combine. This is the low fat dressing for your dish. Then toss in salad greens (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and watercress are ideal), add your artichoke hearts and chickpeas. For a creamy texture, add chopped avocado. This is also an excellent source of good fats (not the bad kind). You can also hard boil two eggs and grate these into the salad using the large holes of a cheese grater. Skip the yolks for a lean protein meal.
Roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad
One of the most comforting healthy salad recipes for weight loss that’s perfect for autumn and winter is pumpkin and quinoa salad. If you’re battling cold weather and seasonal fatigue, it can be easy to fall off the bandwagon and turn to junk food. But pumpkin is a delicious veggie that will help you stay fuller for longer. It’s a great source of fibre, helping to curb your appetite and maintain a healthy digestive system. It’s also low in calories and packed with nutrients.
To make this dish, combine roasted pumpkin pieces with red quinoa (it holds it shape much better than white). Toss with green salad leaves and finish with a fat-free Greek yoghurt, mint and coriander dressing.
Roasted apple salad
Another comforting recipe for winter and perfect for weight loss. This salad is made with apples, mixed salad greens, pitted dates (not too many), chopped toasted pecans, and some crumbled feta cheese on top. A bit of fat is welcome in most diets, as it’s essential for helping you body carry nutrients and feta is a great low fat cheese option.
To make the dressing, combine some good quality extra virgin olive oil, a few teaspoons of cider vinegar, a small amount of maple syrup, and some Sriracha chili sauce. How much is up to you and you’ll need a few taste tests to strike the perfect balance between sweet, sour and spicy. Don’t forget to season your salad with salt and pepper too.
Leafy green salad with pear and pomegranate
Adding fruit to savoury salads can be a great way of adding more flavour without all the nasties. Fruits like pear can add much-needed moisture to make leafy greens more palatable, and tasty pomegranate jewels can add a splash of gorgeous colour. We eat with our eyes, so it’s important that our food looks as good as it tastes.
Make this salad with greens of your choice (rocket is great for that peppery touch), sliced pear, some low fat goats cheese, and a mouth-watering dressing made from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and freshly grated ginger.
This fish is comforting, warming and full of healthy goodness, making it ideal for a healthy lunch at the office.