How to add something crunchy to your salad.
Having something to really sink your teeth into makes any salad feel more satisfying.
Choose at lease one, or as many as you want:
Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds too.
Nuts: Toast them first to bring out their flavor, and chop them for easier bites.
Croutons: Homemade is much, much better. Use any old loaf you have on hand. Or even pita bread.
Granola: Watch the sugar content.
How to add protein to your salad.
Protein and vegetables are essentials to weight loss. So don’t hesitate to add plenty of protein.
Leftover roasted chicken works great too. Spicy ground beef or lamb. Classic combo: grilled steak and blue cheese on an iceberg lettuce wedge. Amazing.
How to add something salty to your salad.
This may seem counter intuitive. Maybe because most people don’t like anchovies. That really is too bad because it tastes so good. Try to start with a bit of anchovy paste in the dressing, then move towards tiny chopped up bits of anchovies, then when you’re ready, go for the bad boy anchovy filet.
How to add something sweet to your homemade salad.
Now a touch of sweetness goes a long way. Remember though that it’s salty OR sweet. Not both at the same time. That doesn’t taste good.
My recommendation is dried or dehydrated fruits. Plenty of fiber if you’re trying to lose weight.
Choose fruits that are complementary in flavor to the rest of your ingredients.
How to pair salad ingredients together.
Some combination go better than other. Experience will tell you that, but as a general rule, don’t worry too much about pairings. Again, if you like each component separately, then you will likely love them together.
Here are some classic combos to help you decide:
- Arugula, shaved Parmesan, toasted pine nuts
- Frisee lettuce, dried apricots, hazelnuts, and blue cheese
- Iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, crispy bacon, steak
- Spinach, feta, black olives
- Romaine, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan cheese
- Any greens, dried apricots and pistachios
- Spinach, cranberries and goat cheese
- Mixed greens, pears, pecan, blue cheese
- Mixed greens, apple, walnut, shaved Parmesan
- Garbanzo beans, garlic vinaigrette, parsley
- Couscous, parsley, tomato, lemon juice
- Mixed greens, avocado, mango
- French lentils, bacon, raw carrots
- Grated carrots, Dijon dressing, scallions, raisins
- And many, many more…
Don’t forget fresh herbs
These can be added in almost any combo. They really add to the salad. Add big handfuls of soft and tender herbs, like mint, parsley, cilantro, and basil.
Don’t forget grains
(unless you’re Paleo of in Phase 1 of my weight loss program). The easiest way to bulk up a salad is with a small addition of cooked quinoa, bulgur, couscous, rice or pasta.
Be mindful that the grains will soak up more dressing than the vegetables, but that’s a good thing. Adjust accordingly.
How to make a salad dressing from scratch.
A homemade dressing is what’s going to transform a sad bowl of vegetables into a superb and healthy dish.
Now, it MUST be a homemade dressing, made from scratch, in order to be healthy, delicious, and help your weight loss efforts.
You see, the ingredient list on the back of a salad dressing bottle gives me a headache. Sugar, corn syrup, xantham gum, and other killer “ingredients” I can’t pronounce.
Unhealthy and pricey. Often mislabeled too (no, they’re NOT healthy!).
Big food companies are taking us for fools.
Because you see, making a homemade salad dressing is easy. In fact, it takes 3 minutes to make, costs almost nothing, and helps you lose weight.
Do me a favor: Avoid processed salad dressing at all cost. Make your own from now on. It will help you immensely.
To make a delicious salad dressing, you don’t need a recipe (although I’m including one below).
The only thing you need is to remember the following formula:
1 PART VINEGAR (or something acidic) FOR 4 PARTS OIL (any oil you like), then add whatever herbs and seasoning you want. It’s that easy.
Here are some salad dressing options:
Vinaigrette: A classic vinaigrette is made with fat and acid; traditionally, olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice. But feel free to add warm bacon fat, or experiment with a variety of vinegar’s and citrus juices.
Thick and Creamy dressing: Hearty salads (Like kale) with big flavors can stand up to creamy, rich dressings like a thick, emulsified Dijon mustard dressing for instance.
I really want to emphasize the simplicity of making a salad dressing. Or as the French call it: a vinaigrette. The vinegar (or acidic ingredient) you use doesn’t really matter. It’s a question of preference. Same with the oil you use.
Naturally, I tend to stay away from canola or vegetable oil (heavily processed and rather unhealthy), and I concentrate on extra-virgin olive oil. Your choice of extra-virgin olive oil matters. I always buy the best I can afford, and focus on so-called “estate” olive oil: small producers from California, Italy, Spain, Greece, France or elsewhere who take pride in olive oil making and use a natural process. The best advice I can give you is to taste the olive oil.
Talking about tasting, your first salad dressing may taste strange to you. Remember that a salad dressing is not meant to be eaten by itself; it’s meant to enhance a salad. So the vinaigrette really reveals itself once it is tossed with whatever salad you’re making.
There are a few dressings that I use all the time. One is a classic olive oil, sherry vinegar, and garlic.
Another is avocado oil mixed with a drop of lemon juice and a lot of Dijon mustard.
And yet another is a honey Dijon mustard with olive oil and a drop of balsamic vinegar.
As a general rule, any fresh herbs like Italian parsley, cilantro, dill, or basil really adds a lot of flavor. So do garlic, shallots or onions, as long as they’re chopped finely.
I’ll let you create your own using the secret formula above, but let me give you some advice: don’t sweat it. I don’t measure my ingredients. I just wing it. Who cares if you put a bit more garlic, or a bit less vinegar. It’s all going to end up wonderful anyway.
A vinaigrette dressing is meant to be left as is. You don’t need to mix it, whip it, or work at it. That’s your dressing and it’s ready to help your fat-burning efforts.
Now, if you want an emulsified dressing, then it requires a bit more work. You must add a natural emulsifier (like mustard or if you have to, mayonnaise) for the emulsion to take.
And you need to agitate (whisk really fast) the dressing, adding drops of oil as you go. It’s a bit more work so I usually stay with a classic, non-emulsified vinaigrette. Much easier.
But here is the best part:
A homemade salad dressing can be made ahead in large quantities (try a quart), and kept refrigerated for instant use later. That’s what I do.
On Sunday, I usually make a big batch of dressing that I keep refrigerated in a squeeze bottle. Every time I want to make a salad, it takes me no time: I grab a few greens (spinach, romaine, kale, etc.), take a look at what’s in the fridge that day (maybe a tomato, a hard-boiled egg, canned tuna and leftover green beans?), put it together, and drizzle it with my ready-made dressing. Dinner done!
extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper
Combine the garlic, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil in a container or glass jar with a lid.
Shake vigorously until the oil and vinegar are well-emulsified.
Serve with your favorite greens.
And I explain it all (How to make a salad from scratch, how to make a salad dressing, and how to pack your lunch for work) in this video from my home kitchen in Florida.
One of the best salads I love to make comes from my husband’s native land: the South of France.
It’s the Salade Nicoise. Or Nicoise Salad, as we say in the US. He and I actually made this fun Facebook Live video that got a lot of views.
We actually took some liberties from the actual classic. Something NOT to do with the French LOL! In fact, one of my husband’s childhood friends jokingly called him out on Facebook, and sent him the real, authentic recipe!
Here is a screenshot of the conversation if you speak French. If not, it’s still funny how food is so serious in France.
And here is the recipe of the Salade Nicoise.
Salad Nicoise Classique Yum
sliced 1/3 inch thick
white wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
cherry tomatoes halved
head Boston lettuce
2 5 1/2 -
cans Italian or Spanish tuna packed in olive oil
small can of anchovies
Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl and let cool. Reserve the saucepan.
Meanwhile, bring a separate saucepan of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with salted ice water. Add the green beans to the boiling water; cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water to cool; drain and pat dry.
Place the eggs in the reserved saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, then run under cold water to cool. Peel under cold running water.
Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified.
Toss the tomatoes, green and red peppers in a small bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Add about 1/4 cup dressing to the potatoes and toss. Quarter the hard-cooked eggs.
Divide the lettuce among 4 plates. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, hard-cooked eggs, tuna, anchovies, and olives on top. Add the tomatoes to the plates. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.