How make a healthy salad: finding the right balance

I know this might sound ridiculous…”A healthy salad.” Isn’t that repetitive? How could a salad, notorious for fresh veggies not be healthy? We’ll, pretty easily actually. Especially if you’re not paying attention to your nutrition to treat ratio. You can cover up a bed of iceberg with bacon, egg, cheese and a quart of ranch dressing and call that a salad, but it won’t any healthier for you than a club sandwich. Even if it has a few shredded carrots on the side and a cherry tomato on top.

healthy salad cover

But it also does not mean you can’t pack in ton of goodness, flavor and a few treats to bring it all together and create the perfect healthy salad! I’m kind of notorious for my Kitchen Sink salads. In that, I never really have a plan, I just toss in whatever I have on hand…except the kitchen sink of course.

Watch your Nutrition to Treat Ratio

I love kitchen sink healthy salads because they are easy, usually full of things you love and when done right, packed with nutrition from across all the food groups. But there is a trick to making a good “kitchen sink” healthy salad. If you don’t balance your “nutrition:treat” ratio – you can end up with something like the equivalent to a cheeseburger on your hands or worse.

  • By nutrition, I mean the things that should be the base of your salad. Fresh veggies, lean meats, beans, quinoa, got it?
  • By treats, I mean little things that make the salad taste extra delicious, dressing, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, bacon, avocado, olives, cheese, croutons, corn, little fried onions, you get the picture right?

Note: Many of these treats are in fact healthy fats, like avocado, nuts, seeds, olives and so on. But they are still high in calories – so watch them if your watching your weight.

I don’t know the perfect ratio – but it should be at least 2:1. So, if you’re going to use bacon and eggs on your salad, you best have at least 4 servings of veggies in there to balance out the nutrition:treat ratio. Make sense? So in addition to your lettuce or spinach, add some green peppers, carrots, tomatoes and you’re right on target to deliver a healthy salad! You know me, the more colorful veggies the better!

Serving Size is Important

If you just want a simple spinach salad withe some nuts and cheese (similar to the Butternut Squash Salad is pictured in the cover photo) just make sure you use at least 2 servings of spinach for every one serving of the treat. Keep in mind that a serving of veggies is one cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked, and any small piece of fruit. For treats, it’s usually about a tablespoon, check the nutrition label and try to stay about 50 calories per serving.

Here’s What I’m Talking About Specifically

So here’s a Power Vegan Healthy Salad that is pretty good example of what I’m talking about. I’m not gonna lie, is pretty awesome. Because I keep cooked quinoa, canned black beans and sliced mango in my fridge, this was super-uber easy. Took about 5 min and is nutritionally packed with goodness and also kind on the planet.  If you find yourself in a Vegan friendly mood and are looking for a good healthy salad that is satisfying and will pump you full of energy, try this one out!

kitchen sink healthy salad

Kitchen Sink Healthy Salad Recipe

  • 1 cup Frozen-Thawed Green Beans (nutrition)
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes (nutrition)
  • ½ cup Canned Black Beans (nutrition)
  • ½ cup Diced Fresh Mango (nutrition for the most part, but kind of a treat too)
  • ¼ cup Cooked Quinoa (nutrition)
  • 1 T Ground Flax Seeds (treat)
  • 1 T Slivered Almonds (treat)
  • 1 T Fresh Lime Juice (nutrition)
  • Lemon Pepper and Garlic Salt to taste

340 calories – 16g Protein – 12g Fiber

Directions:  Add all ingredients to a bowl, toss and serve!

This is Just One of My Many Simple Secrets

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Cheers!

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2 thoughts on “How make a healthy salad: finding the right balance

    1. Oh Lorie you are just making my day these days! So glad you liked it! That’s one of my “kitchen sink” salads where I just threw in whatever I had on hand and I was like “dang — this is good, I should write a blog about it!” So glad you enjoyed!

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