Salads always seem like the healthy option—a quick way to meet your daily, fruit, and veggie quota. Added bonus: They're a simple, no-cook approach to summer supper, and most are clean without much effort. But a heavy hand with dressing, combined with calorie-dense toppers like cheese, bacon, and even heart-healthy nuts, can quickly turn those bountiful greens into a 1,000-calorie blowout. Our approach? Start with greens, fruits, and veggies, and finish with a few bold toppers and a light dressing drizzle.
Leafy GreensStart with nutrient-rich greens: 2 packed cups have just 10 to 15 calories.
Lean ProteinsStay fuller longer with protein. Pick a plant-based protein (beans, peas, or tofu), seafood, or leaner cuts of meat.
Fruits & VeggiesPile them high! Most raw fruits and vegetables have only about 10 to 30 calories per ½ cup. They're fiber-rich and filling, too. Try 1/4 cup shaved baby carrots, 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 cup berries of your choice, 1/4 cup fresh corn kernels, 1/2 cup sliced heirloom tomatoes or shaved summer squash, or even 1/2 cup sliced peaches or green tomatoes.
Bold BoostersPick 2 or 3. These flavor-packed picks are calorie-dense and often high in sodium and fat, too. A little goes a long way. Great options include: 1/4 cup sliced peeled avocado, 1 1/2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, 3/4 ounce crumbled goat cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts, 1 center-cut bacon slice (cooked and crumbled), 1 sliced hard-cooked egg, 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, or 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese.
Better DressingIt's better to make your own salad dressing. It's quick, tasty, and better for you than bottled. Toss with 1 tablespoon for about 90 calories. Try Grapefruit-Chive Vinaigrette, Balsamic Rosemary Vinaigrette, Sweet Cilantro Vinagrette, or Red Wine Vinaigrette.
Top Tips for TossingSprinkle LightlyCrumbly cheeses (100 calories per ounce), chopped nuts (50 calories per tablespoon), bacon (25 calories per slice), and dried fruits (25 calories per tablespoon) are tasty but calorie-dense. Add these at the end. Clean Swap: Look for an organic, uncured bacon.
Plate ItServe your salad on a plate to keep all those tasty (and heavy) toppings from collecting in the bottom, as they might in a bowl.
Dress with LessA little of our dressing goes a long way. Start with 1 tablespoon; toss well. If the greens still seem dry, add 1 teaspoon more at a time.