If you're trying to eat light, salads probably seems like the perfect option, but they're not always the mealtime wonders they're made out to be.
Salads, especially ones that aren't homemade (think pre-packaged, dressing-laden varieties) often tend to be one of two things. Either they're jam-packed with hidden calories from additions like croutons, creamy dressing, bacon or breaded chicken, or they're bland, boring plates of iceberg lettuce and little else.
If you're planning a clean eating kick, take a few minutes to make up a salad at home with some of the following ingredients. It'll be far cheaper, tastier and healthier. Who can argue with that?
1. Dark leafy greens
Iceberg, baby gem and other light green lettuces have an extremely high water content and very few nutrients. Base your salad around darker greens like spinach, rocket and kale for a tastier and more beneficial meal.
2. Nuts and seeds
Add crunch, texture and a whole load of protein and heart-healthy fats by sprinkling a large spoonful of seeds or chopped nuts over your salad. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are all great options. If you find seeds boring, try lightly toasting them first in a dry frying pan until golden brown. Toasted sunflower and sesame seeds are a revelation… you'll be hooked.
Filling, packed with protein and pretty much carb-free… what more could you want? A slightly runny poached egg is perfect over a salad, or if you're on the go, make egg muffins ahead of time and slice them over the salad. We love this recipe from Irish blog Cup Of Three.
4. Quinoa, pearl barely or farro
Wholegrains FTW. Cooked grains instantly make a light salad into a filling meal with minimal effort. Cook the grain using your preferred method ahead of time and stir through the salad once it's ready to go.
Kidney beans, black-eyed beans and chickpeas are all tasty salad fillers, and if you go for the canned options there is literally no prep involved. Simply open, drain and rinse. They're packed with fibre and protein and will leave you feeling satisfied until dinner.
6. Citrus fruits
Want a salad that looks incredible AND tastes amazing? Slice some grapefruit, blood orange or tangerine on top of that bad boy. Light vinaigrettes and balsamic dressings are perfect with that citrus tang.
The health benefits of beetroot are endless, and it's a cheap and hassle-free salad ingredient. Try slicing and roasting beetroot wedges for 20 -25 minutes with some honey and oil, or simply grate some raw beetroot over the top of your salad. Beware though, raw beetroot will stain everything in sight, so don't mix it through the other ingredients unless you want an entirely pink meal.