Salads can seem a bit cliche when it comes to healthy eating…this does not mean they need to be boring!

I was originally going to spell out the various elements of a great salad, but the author of gormetrunner did such a brilliant job, I decided not to re-invent the wheel. Instead, I’d like to share some salad tips, highlight some non-traditional salads as well as list some great clean eating salad dressings that you can whip up in a flash.

…tips to great salad eating…

When creating your very own vinaigrette, the common ratio of oil to vinegar/juices is generally about 2 acid to 1 oil or 1.5 acid:1 sweetner:1 oil. Of course this varies wildly, however it can be a good starting point from which to build your dressing further.

  • Oils: grapeseed, corn, peanut, seasame, olive (extra light has a more mild flavour), vegetable.
  • Vinegars: rice, apple cider, white, red wine, white wine, balsamic (fig and raspberry balsamics add great flavour!)
  • Juices: orange, lemon, grapefruit, apple (unsweetened), cranberry (unsweetened)
  • Sweeteners: honey, agave syrup, stevia, white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, xylitol, splenda
  • Additions: dijon mustard, fresh or dried herbs, pureed fruit (berries, stone fruit, apples, etc.), beans/lentils

Don’t drench your entire salad with dressing. Instead, try:

  • Toss the lettuce/base with dressing (keeping it modest) before adding toppings.
  • Pour your dressing into a small dish and dip your fork prongs before stabbing some salad: this cuts down significantly how much dressing you’ll use.
  • Shake your salad with the dressing instead of pouring over the top.

Keep crunchy toppings to the side until you’re ready to eat your salad – especially one that’s packed ahead as a lunch. Adding croutons, small crackers, chow mien noodles, etc. just before you’re ready to eat will keep things fresh and tastiest.

Think outside the box when it comes to toppings. Everything from roasted root vegetables to caramelized nuts (toss some raw sugar in a skillet with nuts and stir on high heat until the nuts are coated in syrup; lay out on wax paper to dry) can taste great in a salad…be creative!

…non-green salads…
Salads do not have to begin with greens: there are so many fantastic, clean-eating recipes for salads made from shredded vegetables, beans, root vegetables, etc. Here are some great ones to start!
…some recipes…
I like to pare down the recipes to a single serving (or two) for easy one-off dressings: this allows me to have different salads each day without having 12 bottles in the fridge.
  • Blueberry Vinaigrette: 1 1/2c blueberries (frozen or fresh), 1/4c balsamic vinegar (try raspberry for variation), 1 clove garlic, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2c olive oil
  • Citrus Vinaigrette: 3 Tbsp olive oil, 3 Tbsp orange juice, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper (great with berries, peaches or apricots and feta)
  • Sweet Vinaigrette: 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp poppy seeds (great on a spinach salad with strawberries and almonds)
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette: 1/2 c raspberry vinegar, 1/2c olive oil, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste (fantastic on a Raspberry Clubhouse Salad: greens, onions, feta, bacon, caramelized pecans, raspberries)
  • Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette: 1/3c red wine vinegar, 1/2c raw sugar, 1 c vegetable oil, 1 tsp ground mustard, 1 tsp salt, 1/4tsp ground white pepper
  • Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette: 1/4c maple syrup, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1 garlic clove, minced (fantastic on spinach with pear, onion, apple, mushrooms, bacon, boiled egg, artichoke hearts and smoked salmon)
  • Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette: 1/2c raw sugar, 1/2c lemon juice, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 2/3c oil, 1 Tbsp poppyseeds (great on a winter fruit salad including swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple and pear)
  • Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette: 1/4c balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar, fig balsamic vinegar), 1 garlic clove, 2 Tbsp raw sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2c olive oil
Bon appetit!
What are your favorite salad toppings?