The Best Clean Eating Salad Recipes
When most people think of what celebrations take place in March they typically think of St. Patrick's Day and the consumption of a delicious plate of corned beef and cabbage with a tall glass of beer. But did you know that March is also National Nutrition Month?!
So to be honest, when I make corned beef and cabbage, it is in the slow cooker and I think it is good, but nothing to write home about.
What I do think I make pretty darn well are some yummy salads! So in celebration of National Nutrition Month I am sharing with you my 4 favorite salad recipes.
I would also like to mention that for the most part I do try to eat clean. Don't get me wrong, I do indulge, but in moderation.
As far as salads go, I think many times people think that if they are eating a salad it is a healthier option. However, the size of the salads that we often eat, as well as all of the toppings and sugary, calorie dense, dressings pretty much ends up defeating the purpose of trying to select a lighter meal.
My approach to making healthier salads is to always do the following:
- MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSING!!! Store bought bottled dressing has a ton of calories and sugar in it. I ONLY use vinegars, fresh squeezed citrus juice, dijon mustard, and olive oils to dress my salads. I purchase all of my balsamic vinegars and specialty olive oils from Bella Gusta Select Oils and Vinegars. They have a shop in West Hartford, CT, but you can also purchase their products online, HERE. You will seriously never use store bought dressing again!
- Include a lean protein (i.e. grilled chicken breast, shrimp, scallops, salmon, pork tenderloin, turkey, etc) and load up on the veggies.
- Use green leafy veggies as your base versus iceberg, which has a lot of water and is not as nutrient rich. (I mostly use either arugula, baby spinach, romaine, cabbage or mesclun greens.)
- If you need a crunch, instead of croutons use unsalted dry roasted nuts like almonds.
- Don't go heavy on the cheese. I don't use cheeses like cheddar because I think the flavor gets lost in the salad and you end up adding too much. I use more pungent flavor packed cheeses like crumbled feta, goat cheese, or blue cheese. You can add less and the flavor goes a long way.
So here are my top favorite salads that I make on a regular basis (all recipes are for a single serving salad):
Arugula Salad with Seared Sea Scallops
- Arugula (2 cups)
- Large Sea Scallops 3-4 per salad/serving (I sear them in a frying pan, med-high heat, a little cooking spray in the frying pan, cook them a couple of minutes each side or until opaque)
- Grated or shaved parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon)
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/4 of the lemon)
- Bella Gusta Olive Oil (1-2 tablespoons)
- Sea Salt/Fresh ground pepper
- Sear sea scallops.
- Fill your salad bowl with the arugula.
- I squeeze 1/4-1/2 a lemon into a small bowl. I whisk in about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. (You can alter this depending on how much dressing you would like and how much lemon to oil ratio you prefer.)
- Add dressing to arugula and gently toss to coat.
- Shave or sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.
- Top with seared scallops.
Healthy Cobb Salad
- Romaine Lettuce (2 cups)
- Red Onion (thin slices, as much as you'd like)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Avocado, use 1/4 per serving sliced or cubed
- 1 Hard Boiled Egg, sliced
- 2 Slices cooked turkey bacon
- Blue Cheese Crumbles (1 tablespoon)
- Bella Gusta Aged Balsamic Vinegar (2 tablespoons)
- Olive Oil (1-2 teaspoons)
- Dijon Mustard (1 teaspoon)
- Sea Salt and Pepper
- Wash, pat dry, and rough chop romaine lettuce (about 2 cups).
- To prepare the dressing add about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into a small bowl. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard. Whisk together. Add salt an pepper to taste.
- Place romaine lettuce into your salad bowl. Top with thinly sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado chunks, sliced egg, blue cheese crumbles and turkey bacon.
- Add the Bella Gusta aged balsamic and dijon dressing and combine.
Warm Asian Shrimp and Cabbage Salad
- 3-4 Grilled Jumbo Shrimp (I grill shrimp on my grill pan over the stovetop. I add just a few dashes of low sodium soy sauce while the shrimp are grilling, a couple minutes per side or until pink and opaque). *You could also substitute salmon instead of shrimp
- Soy Sauce
- 2 cups of Purple Cabbage and Green Cabbage mixed or you can buy the pre-packed cabbage mix
- 1-2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons of dry unsalted slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- Canned water chestnuts, drained (about 6 slices is what I add to my salad)
- Sesame oil (small drizzle, about 1/2 teaspoon, you don't need a lot it is very flavorful)
- Bella Gusta Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar (2 tablespoons)
- Thinly slice cabbage so it looks like a slaw (you can also buy it packages already shredded).
- On medium to medium-high heat, add a little bit of oil to the bottom of the pan. Add cabbage and a little bit of salt, sauté until the cabbage gets a little tender. If it seems a little dry add a little bit of water, a couple of tablespoons, to help move along the cooking process.
- Remove cabbage from heat and place in a salad bowl.
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the warm cabbage and toss to combine.
- Add the Bella Gusta Honey Ginger Balsamic and drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil. Toss to thoroughly coat.
- Top with the grilled shrimp and slivered almonds.
Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken and Berries
- Baby Spinach (2 cups)
- Grilled Chicken, sliced (you could also use rotisserie chicken breast as well)
- Sliced fresh strawberries (2-3)
- Fresh Blueberries (1/4 cup or less)
- Red Onion, thinly sliced (as much as you prefer)
- Slivered Almonds (a tablespoon)
- Crumbled Goat Cheese (or Feta) 1 tablespoon
- Grill chicken breast or chop rotisserie chicken breast into chunks.
- Fill your salad bowl with spinach.
- Top with chicken, red onion, berries, slivered almonds, and goat cheese.
- Drizzle olive oil and Bella Gusta Blueberry Balsamic over the top.
So those are my all time favorite go-to healthy salads. Give them a try and definitely start using some good oils and vinegars. I promise you won't miss those goopy, sugar filled, store bought vinaigrettes!!
Happy National Nutrition Month!