Salads Recipes For Weight Loss
A colorful plate of food is not only great for the gram, but also great for your health. Did you know that different colors in different foods represent different antioxidants? Antioxidants block free radicals (unstable molecules) from destroying your DNA and tissues. Free radicals have been linked to pretty much every possible health issue—inflammation, digestive problems and weight gain.
Red fruits and vegetables get their red color from the antioxidant lycopene. Orange colored fruits and vegetables get their orange hue from beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A. This is why colorful salads are a great way to get as many antioxidants as possible.
Salads are also great for weight loss because they keep you full. With the right proteins and fats, the fiber from the vegetables will keep you satiated for longer. This means that you are less likely to reach out for snacks and consume unnecessary calories. Filling meals are also better for controlling your blood sugar levels.
The Ingredients Of A Filling Weight Loss Salad
Salads often get a bad reputation because they are seen as bland and not satiating. The biggest mistake people make in this, is not balancing out macros properly (adding too little protein or fat) and not adding enough flavor. This is especially the case for people on a plant-based diet.
Here is a checklist of the the things every salad should have:
- Decent amount of complex carbohydrates
- Plenty of lean protein
- Good amount of healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds
- Salad vegetables that are low in calories but high in fiber and minerals
Finding the right proteins and fat is crucial to creating a satiating salad. A satiating salad will automatically help your weight loss goals because it prevents you from eating too many snacks or unnecessary calories.
Great sources of protein include chicken, beef, tuna, prawns, tofu, tempeh and nuts (for those on a vegan diet). Good sources of fat include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.
The next important part is the flavor. This is more important when you have things like tofu that needs to soak up a lot of flavor.
It’s good to be careful here because some flavorings can contain hidden calories. Fortunately, you can get a lot of flavor from simple salad dressings. Things like lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper can go a long way in adding flavor.
Other than this, you can go for any type of seasoning to spruce up your salad. Whether it is masala, cajun seasoning or even barbeque seasoning can be a great way to vamp up a boring salad.
The next important component of a salad are the carbohydrates. As much as they are demonized as a weight loss food, carbohydrates are essential for every meal. Leaving them out from salads, which is a mistake many people make, will only leave you feeling deprived.
Remember that carbohydrates are the body’s most accessible form of energy. So, if you don’t get enough during your meals, this can make you feel tired and lethargic. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is to use complex carbs instead of refined carbs like bread.
Complex carbs are harder to digest and release energy more slowly. This keeps you full for longer. So, swap out the croutons for filling complex carbs like beans, lentils, barley and quinoa.
Finally, the vegetables need to be brought in. For this, aim to incorporate as many colors as you can in order to get a variety of nutrients and antioxidants. Nutrient-dense salad greens like kale, broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce are great choices.
Here are some great salads recipes for weight loss that you can try:
1. Salad With Beets, Barley And Hard Boiled Eggs
This is an amazing weight loss salad because it is very well balanced in terms of macronutrients. Unlike other salads, this one doesn’t contain a bit of carbohydrates from the barley and beets. The beets are a great source of anthocyanins (purple antioxidants) and also fiber to keep you full.
You get a decent amount of from the eggs and a good amount of healthy fat from the walnuts. Walnuts are one of the few sources of Omega-3 fats in vegetarian diets. This is a great salads recipe for weight loss from Eat This Not That, if you are vegetarian.
- 6 Tbsp buttermilk
- 3 Tbsp light mayonnaise
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or green onions
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 8-oz packages refrigerated cooked whole baby beets, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 5-oz package baby arugula
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, halved and sliced
- 1 cup cooked barley or farro
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
- Divide beets among four pint jars.
- Top with arugula, dressing, eggs, barley, goat cheese, and walnuts.
- Cover and chill up to 3 days.
Nutrition: 302 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated), 454 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 15 g sugar, 14 g protein
2. Mexican Salad With Chicken And Quinoa
This flavorful, nutritious salad from Eat This Not That has an incredible blend of macronutrients. You get a good amount of complex carbs from the corn and quinoa, protein from the chicken and beans and fiber from the other vegetables. It is one of those salads recipes for weight loss that make you feel like you are not on a diet.
Additionally, you get some healthy fats from the creamy avocado. From the ingredients, you can see that this salad is balanced enough to eat as a main meal. With the Mexican flavors, this is one meal that you will be forgetting was a salad.
- 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 3 Tbsp refrigerated salsa
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 3/4 cup canned no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- In a small bowl, combine chicken and salsa.
- Divide quinoa among four pint jars. Layer with tomato, black beans, corn, chicken mixture, onion, and avocado, pressing ingredients down as you fill, if necessary.
- In another small bowl, combine lime juice, oil, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Spoon dressing over layers in jars. Cover and chill up to 3 days. Shake jars before serving.
Nutrition: 413 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 375 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 21 g protein
3. Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad Recipe
This salad from Eat This Not That is great for the days you feel like going for something unhealthy. It has plenty of flavor and amazing textures that you feel like you are cheating on your diet, but you are not!
Squid is a great source of protein here, along with the peanuts which add great flavor and healthy fats. You also get tons of flavor from the fish sauce and garlic. If you want to feel like you are having takeaway but still on track of your diet, this is the salad you should go for.
- 1 lb squid, cleaned, tentacles reserved for another use
- 1⁄2 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1⁄2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (preferably sambal oelek)
- 4 cups watercress (Watercress isn’t always easy to find. Baby arugula, or even a few handfuls of basil leaves, can easily take its place here.)
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1⁄2 red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 cup roasted peanuts
- Preheat a grill.
- Toss the squid bodies with the oil, and generously season with salt and lots of black pepper.
- When the grill is very hot, add the squid and grill for about 5 minutes, until lightly charred all over.
- Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili sauce in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend.
- Slice the grilled squid into 1⁄2″ rings.
- In a salad bowl, toss the squid, watercress, cucumber, tomato, onion, and peanuts with the dressing.
- Divide the salad among 4 plates.
Nutrition: 220 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 590 mg sodium
4. Salad With Roast Chicken, Kale And White Beans
If you are looking for salads recipes for weight loss that are very well balanced, look no further than this one from Eat This Not That. It gives you loads of protein from the beans and chicken, carbohydrates from the beans and healthy fats from the walnuts.
The kale adds plenty of fiber and minerals like iron and calcium. All of this, without compromising flavor.
For the salad:
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
- 4 cups baby kale
- 1 1/2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
- 14- to 19-oz can reduced-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup
For the lemon-herb vinaigrette:
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the walnuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the walnuts are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar, parsley, salt, and pepper. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the oil until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the kale, chicken, beans, and walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat.
5. Kale Salad With Crunchy Chickpeas
If you are vegan and looking for great salads recipes for weight loss, this crunchy chickpea and kale salad is an amazing one from the Minimalist Baker. You get tons of fiber from the kale and chickpeas, as well as protein.
The tandoori-spiced chickpeas and garlic dressing add a burst of flavor, so that you don’t feel like it’s another bland salad. Because it is so balanced nutritionally, you can eat this salad as a main meal.
- 1 large bundle kale (loosely chopped or torn // ~6-8 cups or 10 ounces as original recipe is written)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive, avocado or grape seed, oil
- 1 healthy pinch sea salt
- 2 1/2 – 3 Tbsp tandoori masala spice blend* (see notes for DIY blend)
- 1 head garlic (large/even-sized cloves work best)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for roasting garlic and massaging kale
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (plus more for massaging kale // ~2 small lemons)
- 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
- 1 healthy pinch each salt + pepper
- Hot water (to thin)
- Peel apart garlic cloves but leave the skin on. Avoid using any tiny garlic cloves from the center of the head. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Add drained chickpeas to a mixing bowl and toss with oil, salt, and seasonings.
- Add garlic cloves and seasoned chickpeas to a baking sheet. Drizzle garlic with a bit of olive or grape seed oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the garlic cloves), or until garlic is fragrant and slightly browned. Carefully remove garlic and set aside. Continue baking chickpeas for 10-15 minutes more or until slightly crispy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside (the chickpeas will get more crispy as they cool).
- Squeeze garlic out of skins / peel away skins and add to a mixing bowl. Add all remaining dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously to combine, smashing the garlic with the whisk. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired, adding more lemon for brightness, tahini for richness, and maple syrup for sweetness. Set aside.
- Add kale to a large mixing bowl. Before adding dressing, add 1 Tbsp each lemon juice and olive oil (amount as original recipe is written // alter if adjusting batch size) to the kale and massage with hands to soften the texture and lessen bitterness. Then add as much dressing as desired (some may be leftover) and mix with a spoon or salad tongs.
- Top with chickpeas and serve. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep in the fridge for up to a few days.
The Bottom Line
Healthy salads don’t have to be boring. It’s about finding the right balance of nutrients and flavors to keep you full until dinner. Whether you are plant-based or not, your salads recipes for weight loss should contain a decent amount of protein and carbohydrates.
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