Six simple ways to smarter, healthier eating

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To eat a healthier diet, you need to combine nutritional science, a jolt of common sense, and pure enjoyment. Most of us know that fresh salad, berries, and slowing down when eating are better for us than wolfing down energy bars and sweets. But how to make that leap from our current habits to healthier ones?

Here are six ways you can eat healthy, delicious meals, and really enjoy what you’re eating.

1) Ditch whole milk

Not only does this reduce saturated fat in your diet, it shaves off calories.

How: Switch to 1% or nonfat milk, and nonfat versions of other dairy products like yogurt and ice cream. Can’t bear to go cold turkey? Step down more slowly to 2% milk, then 1% en route to nonfat, if possible.

2) Harness the power of nuts (and seeds)

Almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated — a great choice to help you eat healthy.

How: First, put nuts on the grocery list. Nuts are high in calories, so it’s best to enjoy them in place of other snacks, not in addition, and to keep serving sizes small.

3) Taste food before you salt it

Break the autopilot habit of reaching for the salt shaker to help you eat healthy.

How: For two days, don’t put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.

4) Pack lunch once a week

This makes healthy food choices readily available to you at work or on an outing. And since you are controlling portion sizes, you can make sure that you’re not supersizing your meal. Plus, it saves you money.

How: Once a week before you shop for groceries, write out a meal plan that leaves enough leftovers for one or two lunches.

5) Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day

It’s a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate that is generally low in calories.

How: First, for one week, keep track of how often you eat fruits and vegetables. One serving equals one-half cup of chopped fruit or most vegetables; for raw leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, a serving is one cup. Once you have your baseline, try adding one fruit or vegetable serving a day.

6) Plan meals that are delightful, delicious and healthy

In an ideal world, food delights all our senses: it looks beautiful, smells heavenly, and tastes delicious, and its textures feel and even sound satisfying. Start thinking about food as something to really savor and enjoy.

How: Pencil in time to prepare and savor one or two special meals a week. Once you’ve assembled great ingredients, set a gorgeous table. Take a moment to truly take in scents, companions, and surroundings, and if you like, give thanks.

For 42 simple changes to help you exercise more, eat healthier, stress less, and live a happier, more fulfilling life, review Simple Changes, Big Rewards from Harvard Medical School.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Burger or Salad: Which Is Healthier?

Kirsten Strecker

You ordered a salad, but since you drenched it with blue cheese, you wonder if you should have followed your friend’s lead―and your cravings―and gone for the burger instead. It’s got lots of protein, right?
Not so fast: Yes, the burger is protein-packed, but “that doesn’t compensate for the burger’s calories and saturated fat,” even if it’s topped with healthy fixings, says Katherine Tallmadge, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, in Washington, D.C. “In the salad, the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals help neutralize some of the negative effects of the saturated fat in the dressing.”
The right way to dress a salad: Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, in Boston, says slathering on lots of dressing is a “no-no” but adds, “if it’s the only way you’ll enjoy the salad, choose a reduced-fat dressing.” Elisabetta Politi, R.D., a nutrition manager at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, in Durham, North Carolina, suggests getting the dressing on the side: “Dip your fork in it before picking up the lettuce. You’ll use less and still have the flavor.” Add-ins can pile on calories, saturated fat, and salt, so sprinkle with caution.
The bottom line: Even with two tablespoons of creamy dressing, a meal-size green salad (plus a few vegetables) has less saturated fat and fewer calories than a quarter-pound hamburger on a bun. The burger has about the same amount of saturated fat as a quarter cup of blue cheese or a third of a cup of ranch dressing.

The healthiest food sources of carbohydrates

According to Dr Dana, the best sources of carbs are fruits such as antioxidant-loaded blueberries, raspberries and strawberries and dark, leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli and sprouts.

“Dark berries have great anti-inflammatory properties, and they’re loaded with antioxidants,” says Dana. “Dark leafy greens are packed with health benefits, like fibre, folate, iron, calcium and vitamins C and K.”

Wholegrain bread and grains such as brown rice, quinoa, brown rice pasta and oats are also a healthy source of carbohydrates, as are Greek yoghurt and cheddar cheese.

“Stay away from bright white – that means all the nutritional goodness has been stripped. Wholegrain is much better and will give you more fuel for your body,” says Dana. “Look for hormone-free products and don’t shy away from cheese – just eat it moderation! The biggest benefit of consuming dairy is you’re getting complete proteins and carbohydrates at the same time – winning!”

The keys to getting carbohydrates right


  1. Check the labels on wholegrain products, the more wholemeal, the better.
    “Bread is a great example – the package might say ‘wholemeal’ on the front, but that sometimes means it includes only some wholegrains. Make sure you flip the loaf over to check the ingredients list – look for the words ‘wholemeal’ or ‘wholegrain’ high up in the ingredients list.”
  2. Carbs come from more than just starchy breads, pasta, rice and potatoes
    “Think fruits, vegetables, dairy and wholegrains,” says Dana.
  3. Cook carbs the way you’re going to enjoy them most
    “Whether that’s boiled, baked, steamed or any other process that works for you. Just be mindful of the additions that can harm nutritional value, like adding too much butter or drenching food in oils and dressings. It’s best to keep vegetables and grains as pure as possible.”
  4. Everybody needs carbohydrates for energy, not just athletes
    “Carbs are the fastest and easiest way for the body to produce energy, which is why we often hear about ‘carb loading’ or stocking up before a big match. Everyday people use plenty of energy going about normal business, let alone if they hit the gym or sports field.
  5. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates!
    “There is a real need that your body has for carbs and trying to eliminate all those important micronutrients is not attainable. When we’re talking about carbohydrates to eat less of, we’re referring to the processed foods like cake, lollies, pastries and white bread.”

Looking for a healthy and easy way to carb load? Try the spiced cauliflower brown rice recipe below!

7 Healthy And Delicious Substitutes For Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is meant to ENHANCE the flavor of a salad and to mix all the ingredients together. However, we tend to use way too much salad dressing to a a point where you can’t even taste the food itself. Traditional salad dressing also typically consists of several chemicals and sugar combined together giving you a high sugar and high calorie diet disaster! When we eat food, we want to actually taste the food and not smother it in some sauce or dressing. And if we are going to smother our food in something, it should at least be healthy and taste great!

Below are my 7 favorite healthy ingredients to use instead of salad dressing:

1. Guacamole

Avocado or using guacamole is my all time favorite “salad dressing” because it tastes amazing and is amazing for you! Avocado is full of healthy fat, vitamins and nutrients and the combination of fat and fiber will help to keep you full as well. Mash up avocado or use guacamole and mix in with your salad.

2. Hummus

Hummus is another great substitute for salad dressing because it has great flavor and is very good at keeping a salad together. Mix in a few tablespoons into your next salad. Look for a brand that has very few ingredients listed on the label and ideally the hummus should consist of just chickpeas, olive oil, and spices.

3. Hard boiled egg (chopped)

I love hard boiling eggs and then throwing one( or a few) in a salad and chopping it up and mixing. The yolk is key with helping keeping the salad together so don’t skip the yolks! It also gives you a great protein and fat addition to your salad as well as great flavor! Take it a step further and make a guacamole egg salad by mixing a couple tablespoons of guacamole with a couple eggs then mixing into your salad.

4. Liquid Aminos

I love using liquid aminos as a substitute for soy sauce because it tastes just like soy sauce and is gluten-free and uses gmo-free soybeans. It is also calorie free and sugar free and adds great flavor to salads as well as marinades for protein.

5. Coconut oil

I love coconut oil on everything, and if you love the slight coconut flavor of coconut oil then add it to your salad! Coconut oil contains short chain fatty acids meaning it is easily broken up and digested by your body to be used instantly for energy rather than fat. Coconut oil also may increase your metabolism when consuming it.

6. Balsamic vinegar

‘Vinegar” is the key word here, any type of vinegar is great but balsamic is by far the most common in restaurants. Important note: Avoid vinaigrette which has added sugar making it a high calorie dressing – vinaigrette does not equal vinegar.

7. Olive oil

A couple dashes of olive oil give you a good dose of healthy fats with zero sugar to help keep you satisfied and give you amazing health benefits! You don’t need much olive oil to give your salad great flavor, so don’t go overboard 😉


About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab

Follow Sarah-Kate on YouTube!

10 Homemade and Healthy Salad Dressings

“Lose Weight by Eating Gummi Bears!” “Get 5 Servings of Vegetables in One Glass of Chocolate Milk!” It seems there is a continuous stream of health and diet advice coming at us via TV, radio and the web. Some information makes sense; others, like the examples above, are ludicrous. Though it’s hard to keep the details straight, thankfully, there’s some consensus. When it comes to salads, research supports eating your fair share. After all, salads are:

  • a great source of fiber
  • an excellent way of getting multiple fruit and veggie servings
  • a filling dish that usually has a low calorie count

But, having a salad alone doesn’t ensure good nutrition. Too much cheese, fried meats, and bread can ruin a healthy salad. Another culprit is the salad dressing itself. Often, store-bought dressings have lots of transfats (the “bad” fats), sugars, artificial ingredients, and a surprising number of calories. As for your non-fat options — sometimes the bottle tastes better than the salad dressing itself.


So, what’s a health-conscious, calorie-conscious person to do? Start from scratch! Homemade salad dressings give you the flexibility to use fresh, natural ingredients and make healthy substitutions where needed. Read on to learn what delicious, nutritious concoctions you can make in your own kitchen, all courtesy of TLC Cooking.

The 5 Best Oil Substitutes for Salad Dressings

What makes a good salad great? We’re answering just that in The Great Salad Shake-Up, a mini-series on everything from the right lettuce for you (it’s out there!) to how to ditch the oil in dressing (yes, you can). BYO salad spinner.

A classic vinaigrette has a magic ratio—three parts oil to one part vinegar. These days though, many cookbook authors and recipe developers favor a zingier formula—two parts oil to one part vinegar, or even one to one for an especially rich salad.

But what would happen if you skipped the oil altogether?

You’d get a ton of new-favorite salad dressings. If we think of oil as fat, then the substitute for oil becomes clear: something else that’s fatty. And why should oil get to have all the fun anyway?

Here are five ingredients that make stellar substitutes, plus some of our favorite ways to use them.

1. Yogurt

If a salad dressing calls for mayonnaise (or emulsifies egg yolks to make one), consider that your cue to swap in Greek yogurt. You can use nonfat or lowfat, but whole milk will give you the fullest flavor and creamiest result. (What about sour cream? you ask. Go for it! And invite me over when you do.) Unstrained yogurt also works, but will turn out runnier. This ingredient excels in creamy dressings, like Ranch, Russian, or Caesar. In her cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner…Life chef Missy Robbins swaps out olive oil and egg yolks with yogurt to make a “semi-healthy” Caesar salad. It calls for plain yogurt, but she says, “Greek yogurt is great, too.”

2. Avocado

You’re making guacamole. But, instead of leaving it chunky and chip dip-able, you add even more lime juice (or lemon or vinegar), and oops, you spill some water in there, too. Meet: avocado vinaigrette. For the silkiest, smoothest dressing, use a food processor or blender (though, between us, I’ve used a fork and no one complained). The recipe below uses a splash of oil, which you can omit, or replace with Greek yogurt or tahini. This is great on lean salads that could use some TLC, or anything with croutons (think avocado toast).

3. Creamy-Crumbly Cheese

Cheeses like blue, goat, and feta dream of being turned into salad dressing. All you have to do is crumble the cheese into a bowl, add something even creamier (yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream), plus some vinegar or lemon juice, and minced herbs (like dill or chives). It’s mostly cheese, which is to say, it’s good on everything. But it’s especially good on juicy, spicy vegetables, like radicchio and radishes, and salads topped with protein, like crispy chicken or a soft-boiled egg. Psst: If a cheesy dressing calls for mayo (like the one below), remember you can swap in Greek yogurt.

4. Tahini

You don’t need to come here often to know how much our test kitchen loves tahini. We turn it into everything from smashed eggplant toast to chocolate chip cookies, but salad dressing might be our most common use of all. The most basic version is little more than just tahini, lemon juice, and water, all of which you can adjust to taste and sight. My favorite recipes feature punchy additions like ground spices (turmeric, cumin), condiments (Dijon, horseradish), spice pastes (harissa, Calabrian chiles), and sweeteners (maple syrup, honey).

5. Any Nut Butter

Almond butter and orange juice sound like a breakfast in the making, but they’re actually the solid foundation for a newfangled vinaigrette. Our contributor Gena Hamshaw combines them with white miso, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and minced garlic, and gets a dressing that any salad would swoon over. What’s more: You can use this formula with any nut butter you’ve got lying around, like peanut or cashew.

Do you ever skip the oil in salad dressing? What do you replace it with? Tell us in the comments!

The Secret to the Healthiest Salad Dressing

When I go grocery shopping with my clients or sort through what’s in their fridge, one of the items they’re often surprised to learn about is salad dressing. Even gourmet-looking dressings can be loaded with sodium, sugar, and unwanted ingredients. One popular brand marketed as ‘healthy’ contains artificial preservatives and packs seven grams of sugar (almost two teaspoons worth) and 230 milligrams of sodium per two tablespoon serving. And even the type of fat your dressing contains matters, perhaps more so than the amount.

A new Purdue University study concludes that a dressing’s fat type plays a role in the amount of antioxidants you’ll absorb from your veggies. Researchers fed subjects salads topped with dressings made with saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat, then took blood samples to test for the absorption of antioxidants known to fight cancer, heart disease, and age-related vision less.

In the test, each salad was served with 3 grams, 8 grams, or 20 grams of fat from various dressings. Butter served as the saturated fat source, canola oil as the monounsaturated fat, and corn oil as the polyunsaturated fat. They found that the dressing made with monounsaturated fat required the least amount of fat to absorb the most antioxidants while the saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat-based dressings required higher amounts of fat to achieve the same results. In other words, with the right type of fat a little goes a long way at helping antioxidants hitch a ride from your digestive system into your bloodstream.

Fortunately, there are many delicious salad dressing options free from excess sodium, sugar, and artificial additives. In a recent post I shared out of the box ways to enjoy hummus, one being as a salad dressing, but I have a few other favorites as well. And each is a great source of monounsaturated fat, or MUFA for short.


A common ingredient in hummus, tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. You may have enjoyed it with falafel, but it also makes a satisfying alternative to creamy dressings on salad. Look for options made from just a single ingredient: sesame seeds.


I sometimes refer to avocado as butter that grows on trees because of its creamy texture and rich flavor. You can actually use avocado in place of butter in baking, and it makes a fantastic base for a vegan green goddess dressing. Just add garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs like basil and cracked black pepper, and blend. Or simply place your salad in a sealable container along with some chopped ripe avocado, close the lid, and gently shake to let the avocado coat the leaves.

Olive tapenade

The standard ingredients in this delicious paste are green or black olives, or both, along with olive oil, parsley, lemon, garlic, and pepper-yum! I use it as the dressing in the Mediterranean minted turkey salad from my newest book S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim.

Oil and vinegar

You just can’t beat the combination of a high quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. But if you crave a little more flavor add a squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh or dried herbs. Or, whip up a simple vinaigrette by adding some minced raw or roasted garlic. And mix things up by using a variety of fruit infused vinegars, from fig or cherry to pomegranate or pear.

How do you dress your salad? Please tweet your thoughts to @cynthiasass and @Shape_Magazine.

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Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

  • By Cynthia Sass

18 Amazingly Clever Uses for Salad Dressing

Hi, it’s me. Yes, me! The bottle of salad dressing on your fridge door! I was afraid you’d forgotten me, hidden away as I am behind this bottle of hoisin sauce from 1992.

Listen, while I have you, we should talk.

You see, I’m afraid I’ve been pigeonholed. Stereotyped. A hidden secret, stuffed away like a genie in a bottle. Because despite my name, I’m good for more than just salads—in fact, you can use me on just about anything (chicken, pizza, side dishes), and if you choose these weight loss salad dressings, you can even lose weight doing so!

To prove it, I’ve asked the editors at Eat This, Not That! to put together this list of the 18 most clever uses for dressing—try them, and you’ll not only blast fat fast, but get the most out of every bottle. So read on. And then slim down even further thanks to these these amazing 52 All-Natural Health Boosters!



Chickpeas are a protein-packed snack that can also up your intake of lysine (an amino acid that blasts away cellulite by repairing tissue and collagen). By roasting these little beans you can get the ultimate quick and healthy treat that skips any of the unnecessary additives, especially when they’re homemade. Just wash and dry 1 can of chickpeas and simply toss them in a lemon olive oil dressing before baking them at 400 degrees until they’re perfectly crispy and crunchy.



Mix Italian dressing with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce to marinate your steak in. This will add bold, tangy flavors with just the right amount of spice and nearly no effort! The longer you allow it to marinate, the more flavor it will reap so try for anywhere between two and 24 hours. For other sneaky ways to melt fat fast, don’t miss these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried!



Chicken is one of the best lean muscle building proteins out there but on it’s own it has a pretty bland flavor. But, there’s no reason it needs to taste boring! Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper before brushing on a honey mustard dressing, then grill or bake until cooked fully. If you’re not making the dressing from scratch, choose a brand like Annie’s Naturals Lite Honey Mustard Vinaigrette that has only 3 grams of sugar per serving. Bonus, mustard is not just rich in flavor, it’s also a rich source of metabolism-boosting vitamins that can help detoxify the body!



Go with a Greek yogurt based dressing to mix into your cold pasta plate! Ever since the rise in popularity, many brands are even making their classic dressings with Greek yogurt as a substitute, and we’re definitely not mad about it! This thick creamy stuff is beaming with protein and low in sugar. To make the dish bold in nutrients use a whole grain pasta and add in small chopped veggies like onion, broccoli, tomato and olives! For other healthy body hacks, read on the these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat.



Healthy grains like quinoa and farro or legumes like lentils and mung beans are vibrant in health-beneficial properties but often lack any substaintial flavors that make your tastebuds water. So what easier way to fix that? Dress them up with a salad dressing! Go with anything from a raspberry vinaigrette to a creamy roasted red pepper vinaigrette.



Fake out your guests with a fancy dish made in minutes! Mix salad dressing with hummus to thicken it up and spread it over a piece of whole wheat or sprouted toast. Then, add roasted veggies or some protein to have an open face sammie. Go even further by drizzling balsamic salad dressing over the top! For more sure-fire ways to lose your belly, don’t miss these 50 Best Ever Weight-Loss Secrets From Skinny People.



Lighten up a potato salad by using a vinegar based salad dressing version instead of any heavy mayonnaise. Chop up potatoes and roast them instead of boiling them until they’re tender and slightly crispy (roasting potatoes gives extra flavor and more texture). Separately combine equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar with lemon juice, green onions and spices. Toss the cooked potatoes in the dressing and relish in a potato salad that won’t leave you feeling bloated in discomfort!



Skip the BBQ sauce! Before throwing your skewers on the grill, lather on a light sweet dressing like raspberry vinaigrette that will send your tastebuds for a ride! Instead of just oil or a heavy barbeque sauce, a light dressing can add some big bold flavors that taste just right with the grill char without adding to your waistline. Go with peppers, onions, chicken thighs and even throw in a fruit like pineapple or mango that will go along with the sweetness of a dressing.



If you’re looking for a dinner shortcut, this is it! In the morning before leaving for the day just cover meat in a dressing and put it in a crockpot with vegetables. It will absorb all of the flavor while it slow cooks and you can come home to an amazing meal that took just a few simple steps and no hovering over a hot stove. Want more slimming crockpot recipes? Read up on these 35 Healthy Crockpot Recipes!



Here’s a spin on the average roasted vegetables! Coat vegetables in a dressing before putting them in the oven to roast so they can caramelize. Use mushrooms, onions, carrots and zucchini with an Italian dressing for a side dish worthy of diving into! And don’t stop there—melt even more fat using these 50 Best Weight Loss Tips—Ever



We know, burgers may not be the go-to meal on a diet, but you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried adding a creamy salad dressing spread to your burger! Just imagine it- your juicey burger with gooey cheese, crunchy lettuce and tomato, between two fluffy buns spread with a creamy salad dressing. It’s a bite made in culinary heaven! Can you say “cheat meal”?



Make a basic lunch epic with the addition of salad dressing! Anything from caesar to ranch to honey balsamic can be used to spice up a lunchtime wrap. And here’s a tip for packing it: pack everything separately and roll it up when it’s time to eat, that way you’re avoiding any sogginess and pack it with one of these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less to keep you satisfied all day.



Do a take out fake out by making a deliciously simple stir fry dish that can be made any night of the week. This popular Chinese take out meal takes only a few ingredients and little work. In a pan or wok with oil, add sliced chicken and bell peppers with broccoli, mushroom, ginger and an Asian dressing. Look for dressings that are low in sodium and an ingredient list you can pronounce! And for more tasty ways to make chicken be sure to check out 35 Best-Ever Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss!



Add a kick of flavor to shrimp by coating it in a honey lime dressing. Whether it’s for grilling, baking or searing your shrimp, this type of dressing will bring some big taste to a simple dish. And while we’re talking dressing, check out 12 Tips to Make Healthy Salad Dressings!



Deconstruct your salad and skip the leafy greens you know you’re only having because you think you have to. Enjoy your favorite crunchy veggies by dipping them in dressing instead! Snacking tip: make healthy chips by baking thin sliced vegetables and use them to for dipping!



Spring rolls are a lighter way to enjoy the flavors of Asia without all the sodium that can still reap max flavor by adding a nutty salad dressing. You can wrap your rice paper around anything from fresh vegetables to grilled chicken to rice and shrimp. Before rolling it up, add a spoonful of a Thai, peanut or sesame dressing!



You obviously just paid the extra $1 for guac in your burrito bowl, but why not add even more avocado goodness to mix with a dressing? Top your rice, beans, chicken and salsa with a creamy avocado dressing. Just combine ½ an avocado, a tablespoon of Greek yogurt, the juice of a lime, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cilantro, garlic and salt together to make a dressing that sure to add some major flavor to your bowl. And lose weight every lunch break with our new essential guide: Every Order at Chopitle—Ranked!



If you’re not dipping, dunking or drizzling your pizza in ranch, you’re doing it wrong. The crispy, saltiness of the pizza and cool, creamy, tanginess of ranch (que mouthwatering) pair so well together that once you try it you’ll never be able to look at pizza on it’s own the same way again! Make sure you’re sticking to a thin crust pizza and light ranch dressing to avoid those unwanted love handles!

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What to put on your salad instead of dressing

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What to put on your salad instead of dressing

When it comes to healthy eating, you really can’t go wrong with a giant bowl of rabbit food. Generally, big entree salads are one of the healthiest meals around, as they’re chock full of a variety of plant-based foods, lean proteins, healthy fats and satiating carbohydrates.


Salads can go terribly wrong though and truly be worse for you than the burger you wanted anyway. No really, it’s true. A McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken and dressing has six grams more fat than a full Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

The first step in avoiding slathering your otherwise healthy salad with calories is to reconsider your salad dressing.

The purpose of a salad dressing is to first add moisture to the bed of greens and veggies, making them a little easier to eat. So when replacing your dressing, you want “wet” toppings that accomplish this task.

The second purpose is to add flavor, otherwise it’s just a plate full of plain vegetables. You can add big flavor without adding fat, calories, or junked-out chemically processed ingredients with what Cheryl Forberg, RD calls flavor agents. The James Beard award-winning chef and Biggest Loser dietitian highlighted foods like fresh herbs, roasted garlic, citrus zest, and robust spices in her book Flavor First, showcasing how to add mouth-watering flavor to foods without impacting the nutrition counts.

Your typical off-the-shelf ranch, Caesar and the like aren’t great for you. They’ll undo all the good you put into a salad. So whether you’re just trying to eat more clean, avoid dairy, count calories, watch fat, or are a foodie looking to try something different, here are nine salad dressing alternatives you’ll really enjoy.

Avocado. A serving of avocado is about one-third of the fruit, and it’s enough to add creamy texture and moisture to the greens. It also adds a healthy fat that you may have otherwise gotten from olive oil, so you don’t have to double up on fats. If plain avocado won’t fly, a dollop of guacamole may be the boldest salad dressing replacement out there.

Try this: Roasted Garlic and Habanero Guacamole

Hummus. This creamy bean-based condiment is an excellent topping for salads. The beans provide a hearty dose of protein and “healthy” carbohydrates — so not only will will you skip the fatty dressing but you’ll give yourself a satisfying boost of macro nutrients. Plus, who doesn’t need an excuse to eat hummus?

Try this: Pumpkin Hummus

Splash of citrus. Simply squeeze a bit of lime, orange, or lemon (or a combo) over your greens. The bright flavors will bring your salad to life, while the citrus juices won’t affect your calorie or fat count.

Try this: add a little salt and pepper, too!

Yogurt. If you love the thick, creamy texture of a ranch or Caesar dressing, then you’ll love this easy replacement. Choose any flavor you like, or just stick to plain. Jazz it up with the citrus suggestion above.

Try this: Creamy Feta and Yogurt Strawberry Basil Dressing

Oil and vinegar. Simple and delicious, this vinaigrette is one of the best replacements for traditional dressings. A splash of red wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegar with a splash of olive oil is all you need!

Try this: 8 ways to make a vinaigrette

Salsa. This is one of the most popular ways to replace salad dressing. It adds an extra serving or so of veggies and a big boost of flavor, while adding the necessary moisture to the greens and veggies. Usually under 10 calories per serving, you don’t even have to order this on the side.

Try this: Smoky Tomatillo Pineapple Salsa

Champagne. Add a spash of champagne over your greens for a subtle pop of flavor that feels fabulous to eat. At only 29 calories, you could even afford to fill a glass on the side, too!

Try this: Add a splash of pomegrante juice to the champagne.

Roasted tomatoes. Spread a baking sheet in a single layer of cherry tomatoes, garlic, cracked black pepper, a little Kosher sal, and a little mist of olive oil. Then pour the tomatoes directly over your salad. The thick, flavorful juices will fill your salad and you’ll never miss a “real” dressing.

Try this: Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Olive tapenade. Famous on the not-so-healthy New Orleans muffuletta sandwich, this olive condiment is an excellent salad topper. Mix your choice of minced olives with olive oil, parsley, lemon, garlic, and pepper for an exciting new “dressing.”

Try this: Easy Olive Tapenade

TapGenes Takeaway: Get out of your salad dressing slump with some fresh new ways to top your salads. Champagne, guacamole and citrus could be the new icing on your veggie cake!

Read More at TapGenes

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How to make turnips tastier!

Healthy Salad Do’s and Don’ts

When you think of a healthy meal choice, a nice green salad probably comes to mind. But if you’re topping your salad with creamy dressing, cheese, croutons, or bacon bits, your seemingly healthy lunch might be more of a diet disaster. Since you can control the toppings you toss in at home, it’s especially important to be choosy about the ingredients in quick-service and restaurant salads, which can easily pack more than 1,000 calories.

Here, nutritionists share their top ingredients to add — and avoid — to build a healthier salad.

5 Do’s for a Healthy Salad

These tasty twists will jazz up your favorite salad recipe:

  1. Add flavor with fruit. When it comes to a healthy salad, most people only think of vegetables. Marie Spano, RD, a nutritional consultant and author in Atlanta, says that a variety of fruits complement the flavors of greens nicely for a refreshing change of pace to your salad recipe. “Various types of apples can lend a sweet or sweet and bitter (in the case of Granny Smith) flavor to a salad,” she says. “Figs deliver this brilliant sweet taste and unique change in texture. If you add figs along with any type of berries, you get a dramatic contrast in color, flavor, and texture that will keep your taste buds stimulated.” It’s best to keep fruit fresh and not dried, as dried fruits add unnecessary sugar.
  2. Mix in some nuts. Crunchy texture is always a welcome addition to a healthy salad, and Spano says that nuts can fill a crunch craving in a healthy way. “Nuts deliver that crunch that people look for in croutons, yet they pack nutritional punch with fiber, antioxidants, and various nutrients,” she says. But nuts do pack a lot of calories and fat, so stick to a small serving to avoid going overboard.
  3. Go for different greens. If iceburg lettuce is your go-to salad base, it’s time for a refreshing change of pace. Jackie Keller, a licensed and certified wellness coach, and the founding director of NutriFit, LLC, in Los Angeles, recommends swapping in new varieties of salad greens. “Try arugula, radicchio, field greens, watercress, spinach, or a combination of them,” she says. “Try arugula, radicchio, field greens, watercress, spinach, or a combination,” she says. “The more variety in your choices, the better the nutritional value as you get different nutrients from each different vegetable.”
  4. Try a potato. For a healthy variation to traditional potato salad, add a few chunks of baked potato to your greens to fulfill your carbohydrate craving. “Even if you eat an entire 5.3-ounce potato chopped in your salad, you get only 110 calories and 45 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C to help ward off those colds and flus,” say Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, the “Nutrition Twins” and authors of The Secret To Skinny and Fire Up Your Metabolism. “Plus, you get more potassium than a banana.”
  5. Add vigor with vinegar. Lakatos and Shames also say the best way to dress your salad healthfully is to bypass the store-bought selections and experiment with different flavorful vinegars. Rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar are just two of many great low-fat salad dressing choices. “Flavorful vinegars add delicious flavors to the salad without the calories of traditional dressings,” they say.

5 Don’ts for a Healthy Salad

Resist making these classic mistakes:

  1. Don’t go full-fat. Spano says the easiest way to turn a healthy salad into a diet disaster is with a heaping glob of full-fat salad dressing. First, try the salad naked, with no dressing on it at all. Then, add just a touch of low-fat salad dressing to enhance the flavor. “You can build a healthier salad if you add a little fat,” she says. “The fat will help you better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in your salad.”
  2. Don’t clog it up with cheese. If choosing high-fat over lower-fat healthy salad dressings is enemy number one, then loading a salad with cheese is a close second. Lakatos and Shames say that just a small amount of parmesan can fill your cheese fix in a healthy way: “A teaspoon adds a lot of flavor with just 20 calories and makes a salad feel like a treat.”
  3. Don’t make it monochromatic. A salad recipe that’s nothing but greens is not only boring, it’s also not as healthy as it could be. Says Spano, “Liven up your salad for your eyes, taste buds, and overall health. Different colors signify a different array of antioxidants.”
  4. Don’t overdo the meat. Topping a healthy salad with bacon or preservative-packed cold cuts detracts from its health benefits. “Instead, try preservative-free turkey,” Keller says. Or try veggie sources of protein, like beans.
  5. Don’t get an oil overload. Many people see olive oil as a healthy salad dressing alternative to some of the store-bought, full-fat varieties. And while this is true, Lakatos and Shames say it’s important not to overdo the olive oil. “One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories,” they say. “Put your olive oil in a spray bottle to disperse it and limit the serving. Or use a teaspoon and limit the oil to two teaspoons.”

Making the right choices can up the excitement factor of healthy salads and keep nutritious eating on track.

Love these salad recipes? Check out the eBook for How To Eat A Salad Every Day for more fantastic salad ideas, dressings, and tips to simplify your salad making!

With this eBook, if you’re grocery shopping, meal planning, or just trying to eat more salads, you’ll have this information at your fingertips whenever you need it.

“How To Eat Salad Every Day And Like It!” could also be called “My FAVORITE Salads {a.k.a. the Fritos Every Day Diet}.”

This post was first published three years ago and almost immediately it became one of the most popular posts on this site. I’m updating the post today to answer some of the more frequently asked questions.

Many of you have commented on my daily salads that I share on Instagram, and you asked for a post sharing tips for making the daily salad happen.

Today I’m sharing all of my favorite salad recipes, the toppings, fillings, and more in one giant blog post. I promise you now, that if you give it a try, this just might rock your salad eating world.

I made you the video above to show how I do this. Be sure to check it out!

While I’d like to say that I’ve always been a fan of salad, that hasn’t always been true.

I’ve always tried to love eating salad, but unless I went to the trouble of making a really great salad (something that often felt like a whole lot of effort in the past), it was hard to get excited about eating a salad most days.

That all changed when I topped my salad with a handful of Fritos for the first time. I know, that sounds completely ridiculous, but I’m telling you now that Fritos are a salad game changer.

Not only does that simple corn chip add great salty flavor and crunch to any salad, the Frito fits perfectly on a fork, it is bite-size, and it’s a fun way to tell all the greens that there is more to the salad life than just vegetables.

Still not convinced? I can’t even tell you how many people have snapped me pictures of their salads with Fritos on top while laughing and telling me that I’m to blame for their newfound love of salads + Fritos.

I swear that there really is no better way to top a salad.

Salad Ideas

There are countless ways to make a killer salad completely your own, so I’m sharing some of my favorites today. The key for me is to prep all the greens and the vegetables for the salads about once a week; I typically do this on Sunday.

It takes me about 30-45 minutes, but in the end, I have lunches made for the week and that keeps my healthy eating on track without having to fuss with it during the week.

I use 6 large containers that I line with a paper towel. The paper towel absorbs moisture and as a result, the greens and other vegetables will stay fresh longer. (I use these containers and these containers to store the prepped salads.)


(any combination of the below ingredients will keep nicely for several days in the refrigerator)

chopped greens: typically a mix of romaine, spring mix, spinach, arugula, or butter lettuce (rarely all of them, just whichever ones I have on hand at the time)

tomatoes: sliced or chopped

cucumber: sliced or chopped (I often remove the seeds, but it isn’t required)

corn: canned, frozen, or fresh

bell peppers: sliced thin or chopped small

red onions: sliced thin

green onions: sliced thin

The proteins can be made just for the salads or simply be saved as leftovers from dinners through the week.

Anytime we grill steak or chicken I thinly slice the leftovers and save them for my salads.

I’ll cook and crumble a couple pounds of ground beef or ground turkey seasoned generously with Mexican seasoning mix (store-bought taco seasoning works great too) and then portion it into 1/2 cup servings and freeze it to use as needed.

Anytime I make pulled pork, I portion the leftover pork into individual containers and freeze them to be reheated for salads.


ground beef or ground turkey: cooked and seasoned generously with Mexican spices or taco seasoning

taco meat: with black beans and corn

pulled pork or carnitas: shredded and chopped bite-size

cooked or roasted chicken: shredded or diced

ham: diced

hard boiled eggs: chopped

canned tuna fish: drained well

cooked shrimp or fish

beans: black, kidney, or pinto beans


cheese: shredded, diced, or crumbled

avocado: sliced or diced

fruits: diced apples or pears, orange slices, fresh berries

plenty of crunch: croutons, tortilla chips, or my personal favorite Fritos

fresh lime

salt and pepper

salad dressing of your choice: Italian, Poppyseed, White Balsamic Vinaigrette, and the absolute BEST Homemade Ranch Dressing are a few of our favorites.


Warm the protein and chop it bite-size, if needed. Add the protein to the pre-made salad greens and vegetables. Add the toppings of your choice, although Fritos are never optional.

Squeeze lime generously over the salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or toss with your favorite salad dressing.

Love these salads? Check out the eBook for How To Eat A Salad Every Day for more fantastic salad recipes, dressings, and tips to simplify your salad making! (link for the eBook is at the top of this post!)

With this eBook, if you’re grocery shopping, meal planning, or just trying to eat a little bit healthier, you’ll have this information at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Salad Recipes

Make eating salad as easy as can be with these tips for easy salads every day of the week! 4.84 from 31 votes Pin Course: Salad Cuisine: American Keyword: eat salad every day Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes Servings: 1 per salad made Calories: 50kcal


  • VEGETABLE OPTIONS: any combination of the below ingredients will keep nicely for several days in the refrigerator
  • chopped greens: typically a mix of romaine spring mix, spinach, arugula, or butter lettuce (rarely all of them, just whichever ones I have on hand at the time)
  • tomatoes: sliced or chopped
  • cucumber: sliced or chopped I often remove the seeds, but it isn’t required
  • corn: canned frozen, or fresh
  • bell peppers: sliced thin or chopped small
  • red onions: sliced thin
  • green onions: sliced thin
  • ground beef or ground turkey: cooked and seasoned generously with Mexican spices or taco seasoning
  • taco meat with black beans and corn
  • pulled pork or carnitas: shredded and chopped bite-size
  • cooked or roasted chicken: shredded or diced
  • ham: diced
  • hard boiled eggs: chopped
  • canned tuna fish: drained well
  • cooked shrimp or fish
  • beans: black kidney, or pinto beans
  • cheese: shredded diced, or crumbled
  • avocado: sliced or diced
  • fruits: diced apples or pears orange slices, fresh berries
  • plenty of crunch: croutons tortilla chips, or my personal favorite Fritos
  • fresh lime
  • salt and pepper
  • salad dressing of your choice: Italian Poppyseed, White Balsamic Vinaigrette, and the absolute BEST Homemade Ranch Dressing are a few of our favorites.


  • Prep the vegetables and place in serving size containers. (I use these containers and these containers to store prepped salads. Add a paper towel to each box to help the produce last longer. Place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
  • Warm the protein of your choice and chop bite-size, if needed. Add the protein to the pre-made salad greens and vegetables. Add the toppings of your choice. Squeeze lime generously over the salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or toss with your favorite salad dressing. Enjoy!


Try topping your salads with these combinations: Carnitas (or pulled pork), avocado, cotija cheese, lime, salt, and pepper Grilled chicken, bacon, hard-boiled egg, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing Chicken, berries, feta cheese, almonds or walnuts, poppyseed dressing Tuna fish, strawberries, avocado, lime, salt, and pepper Chicken or bacon, red grapes, shaved parmesan cheese, candied walnuts, white balsamic dressing Taco meat, beans, corn, avocado, shredded Mexican cheese blend, lime, salt, pepper * don’t forget to add plenty of crunch to each salad!

  • Nutritional info will vary – calories are calculated here for vegetables alone. The additional toppings you choose will vary the numbers.


Calories: 50kcal Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 1/7/17 – recipe notes updated 1/2/20}

Love these salads? Check out the eBook for How To Eat A Salad Every Day for more fantastic salad recipes, dressings, and tips to simplify your salad making! (link for the eBook is at the top of this post!)

With this eBook, if you’re grocery shopping, meal planning, or just trying to eat a little bit healthier, you’ll have this information at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Alternatives to salad dressing

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