Iceberg lettuce is not my favorite thing; it's bland and tastes pretty much like water. And when I think of a lettuce salad, it usually depresses me. I kind of see why people like to eat Caesar salads and pour all that creamy stuff on it. But as I started to take control of my health, I realized that salads don't have to be that bland. It is about finding the ingredients that work for you.
See that salad up there? It contained arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette. No lettuce. And I cleaned up my bowl.
Greens: There are so many options for greens nowadays, especially if you live in a tropical region like Nigeria. You may not have arugula where you are (or you may have never heard of it), but you may have spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, and so on. Remember that the greener or more colorful the vegetable, the better it is for you. Since the greens tend to be the base of a salad, choose something with some flavor. I like leafy greens like spinach :)
Protein: If you are not vegetarian, you would probably choose to have some meat or fish in your salad. Again, choose wisely. Try to stick to lean options, like lean chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, or fish. Spicing up your meat properly can make or break your salad so choose spices that are flavorful, but not saturated with calories, like peppers or jerk sauce. Rather than fry your meat or fish, grill, boil, or bake with little or no oil to cut down the calories.
If you are vegetarian, choosing nuts or beans as the protein in your salad is probably the way to go. Remember to use just a handful of nuts as they usually do contain a lot of fat with the protein. For beans, watch how you make the beans as well. The fewer and less creamy ingredients, the better. Don't go on filling your beans with bacon.
Dressing: A little cheese may be okay for flavor (I chose to use a little goat cheese in my salad above), but don't bathe your salad in it. It defeats the purpose of having a low calorie meal. Also, the salad dressing choice is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when making salads. All your options could be great, and then you drown the salad in the creamiest, highest calorie dressing, like blue cheese. Try to stick to flavorful lower calorie options, like a vinaigrette.
One trick I use is that I infuse my vinaigrette with peppers for days so it's ready whenever I want to use it. Infusion just means you put fresh peppers, fruits, or spices in the bottle so it absorbs the flavor. It's natural, low in calories, and very tasty.
Another trick with the dressing is to use a bit of the juice from the grilled meat or fish so you get that flavor.
Salads do not have to be boring! How do you make your salads?
Cheers Eights & Weights!