May 12, 2010

Sure, salads are an easy way to stick to a healthy diet, but the last thing you want to be after lunch is hungry.

You don't have to be - just boost the stay-full factor by filling your salad bowl with fiber and protein. Foods containing fiber help make you feel fuller than those without it, and they also stick around longer and help prevent hunger later. The less processed the food, the greater its fiber content, so your best bets are fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Protein also keeps you satisfied longer than processed carbs, and it offers a bonus if you work out: It provides the amino acids needed to build and repair muscles. Stick to lean cuts of meat to limit saturated fat. If you're a vegetarian, get your fix with legumes, nuts, soy, and tofu.

Make sense? Now make it interesting. A healthy salad recipe doesn't have to taste boring - take it from Jackie Keller. She combines her culinary training at the famous Le Cordon Bleu in France with her health expertise as Founding Director of NutriFit and author of Cooking, Eating & Living Well. Here, she brings you a Monday through Friday menu of satisfying - but still skinny - salad and dressing recipes.

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads


Servings: 3 (serving size: 3/4 cup)

What you need

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. canola oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms

1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1 cup kasha

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 small shallot, finely chopped

How to make it

1. Defrost the peas and set them aside. Slice the fresh mushrooms and put them into a small bowl with the lemon juice (the juice will prevent them from discoloring). Toss the mushrooms well and set them aside.

2. Add the kasha to 2 cups of boiling water and cook it, stirring frequently, until it is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the kasha, rinse it well, and drain it again. Transfer the kasha to a large bowl.

3. To prepare the dressing, drain the mushrooms, reserving the lemon juice. To this liquid add the vinegar, shallots, salt, and some pepper. Stir the ingredients together. Whisking vigorously, pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking until the dressing is well combined. Set the dressing aside.

4. Add the kasha, fresh mushrooms, and dressing to the peas. Combine the ingredients well and serve immediately.

What's in it

Calories: 310; Fat: 6g; Carbohydrates: 56g; Fiber: 7g; Protein: 12g

Why it packs a punch

This vegetarian option has slow-release energy thanks to the whole-grain kasha. This helps level your moods and keep you energized longer than refined grains (like regular pasta) do. Tip: To stay satisfied, increase the protein in this and other salad recipes by adding hard-boiled egg slices.

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads


Servings: 4 (serving size: 3 oz. Meat/0.5 oz. Cheese/1 oz. Dressing)

What you need

12 oz. sirloin steak, uncooked

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

1 pinch black pepper

2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4" slices

1 cup carrots, cut into 1/4" diagonal slices

1 cucumber, sliced

4 oz. fat free ranch dressing

8 cups romaine lettuce, shredded

How to make it

1. Season meat with black pepper. Heat a grill and when it is hot, grill meat until medium well done, about 4 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool before slicing into thin strips.

2. Wash lettuce and spin dry. Wash and prepare other salad vegetables. Pour dressing into cups to serve on the side.

3. Divide lettuce into 4 equal portions, Plate each portion and garnish with 1/4 of each ingredient. Top with steak strips, then blue cheese crumbles.

What's in it

Calories: 320; Fat: 18g; Carbohydrates: 16g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 23g

Why it packs a punch

Iron-rich steak and fresh greens are the perfect combo for repairing muscles after a workout without blowing your diet.

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads


Servings: 4 (serving size: 2 cups)

What you need

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 cups black beans, cooked

1 tbsp. grapeseed oil

2 tbsp. fat free Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tbsp. fat free, reduced sodium vegetable broth

2 tbsp. fresh basil, minced

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

3/4 cup medium pearled barley

2 3/4 cups water

How to make it

1. In a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, bring the water and barley to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; partially cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender. Drain off any remaining water. Transfer the barley to a large bowl.

2. Add the beans, corn, and peas.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, basil, broth, and oil. Pour over the salad; toss to mix well. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Serve warm or chilled.

What's in it

Calories: 380; Fat: 6g; Carbohydrates: 69g; Fiber: 16g; Protein: 17g

Why it packs a punch

Legumes combined with whole grain provide a well-rounded meal with loads of protein in this healthy salad recipe - and their fiber will help moderate your blood sugar levels so you don't feel hungry again quickly. To make this and other healthy salad recipes vegan, leave out the cheese. Make it gluten-free by swapping the barley for quinoa.

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads


Servings: 2 (serving size: 1 cup)

What you need

2 cups romaine lettuce

1/2 lb. chicken breast, skinned

1 tsp. safflower oil

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

4 Kalamata olives

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 tsp. seasoned salt

How to make it

1. Season chicken breast with spice blend. Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool and cut into cubes.

2. Combine chicken, cucumbers, olives, lemon juice and olive oil; mix well.

3. Top with feta cheese and parsley. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

What's in it

Calories: 280; Fat: 12g; Carbohydrates: 11g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 31g

Why it packs a punch

Thanks to its fats - the heart-healthy kind from olives and olive oil - this salad will help ward off hunger. The feta and chicken act as generous sources of protein, while the cucumber, tomatoes, and greens provide fiber, all of which keep you full.

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads


Servings: 4 (serving size: 5 oz.)

What you need

1 lb. turkey breast, roasted

2 cup watercress sprigs, lightly packed, rinsed and crisped

1 pear, peeled and finely chopped

3 tbsp. lemon juice

3 tbsp. apple juice

1 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

1 head of leaf lettuce, such as romaine

2 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. fat free sour cream

2 tsp. NutriFit French Riviera Salt Free Spice Blend

How to make it

1. For the dressing, place the diced pear in the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until mashed with the apple & 2 tbsp. lemon juice, sugar (1 tsp., if desired), parsley and sour cream. Set aside.

2. Wash and dry the lettuce, separate into leaves. Halve, stem and core but do not peel the remaining pears. Slice lengthwise, place in medium-size bowl and toss with remaining lemon juice.

3. Line a plate with the lettuce leaves and arrange the pear slices over the leaves. Toss the turkey (Note: Turkey should be roasted with the French Riviera blend before cutting into 1" cubes) and watercress with the dressing and place on top. Add blue cheese crumbles and garnish with additional dressing.

What's in it

Calories: 220; Fat: 3g; Carbohydrates: 18g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 31g

Why it packs a punch

This is one of those salad recipes that's ideal after a vigorous workout when you need a protein and moisture-packed meal. Pears provide fiber, moisture, and flavor, while watercress gives your body vitamin C (needed for muscle repair) and protein (for muscle building).

Best Dressings for Healthy Salads