So, let’s talk about making salad at home. You start with the greatest of intentions. You assemble your favorite greens, you chop all your favorite salad veggies. You purchase bags of your favorite toppings like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. You may even go so far as to hard boil some eggs or invest in some nice canned tuna. With all of your ingredients prepped, you are feeling so good about making yourself this nice healthy salad. Yay you. So you put all your ingredients in a bowl and crack open that bottle of overly thick, too creamy, chemical-filled bottle of dressing that’s labeled “low fat” or “low carb” or some other horrible gimmick that really means you can pronounce only half of the ingredients on the bottle, and you dump it all over that glorious bowl of nature. Fail.
If you read my post from yesterday you know salads are not something I get thrilled over, but let’s face it, working salads into your diet is a really good way of keeping you balanced… provided you can keep them under control. You know what I’m talking about. Piles of cheese, deli meats, croutons, tortilla strips, steak – these are all items that will lead to a surefire salad fail, just like bottled dressing.
Today I’m sharing a guilt-free dressing recipe that packs in the flavor and texture, but not the unwanted fat and calories. The secret? Don’t use oil. Almost every oil you see on the supermarket shelf are 120 calories per tablespoon and most dressing recipes call for upwards of half a cup. Guilt. It’s true, all dressings need fat to emulsify, but there are better ways to get it in. The base is raw almond butter, which I combine with various ingredients laying around my kitchen including soy sauce, horseradish, ginger, and rice wine vinegar. Then, instead of streaming in oil to make the dressing, I use coconut water. What you get is a thick, zesty dressing that you swear has cream in it. Nope! Nothing to feel bad about, 5 minutes, and a few dollars to make. Starving artist, baby!
I should say that almond butter is by no means calorie free, but when repurposed in such a way you’re stretching out the calories of one serving over many. And, the natural fat and calories in raw almond butter is going to be way easier on your body than any processed oil.
My tips for keeping your salad under control:
- Measure your dressing first. The bigger the salad, the more dressing you’ll need and that means more calories. Put the dressing in the bowl first and then add in your salad fixings. This will ensure that your salad won’t be too huge and won’t force you to keep adding dressing.
- Find a combination of vegetables and toppings that works for you. The only way you’re going to eat salad is if you absolutely love it, so find a combination that works for you. Be creative. There are so many slaws and greens available in the grocery store nowadays, not to mention roasted nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. See below for what’s in my salad to give you some starting ideas.
- Stay away from refined starches. If you must have a carbohydrate, make it a whole wheat pita or better yet a piece of spouted wheat toast. Croutons, lo mein noodles, tortilla strips – they are going to mess up your flow. Steer clear and you won’t be sorry!
- Pick one protein. You don’t need chicken and tuna and hard boiled egg. Choose one and you will keep your calorie count way down. Try crumbling on your favorite veggie burger!
What’s in my salad in the picture:
From Trader Joe’s:
- Broccoli slaw
- Shredded Cabbage
- Baby Spinach
- Butter Lettuce
- Dried Cranberries
- Sliced Toasted Almonds
- Roasted Salted Sunflower Seeds
- 1/2 an avocado, diced
- 1 can of sardines in olive oil, drained and broken up (you can use tuna instead)
- Fresh ground pepper
I want to hear your variations on this recipe – let me know what you changed up! What’s your favorite salad? Or how about salad fail? Comment it up!