I don't care how health conscious you are; dressed up lettuce does not excite you, at least not year-round. And when you're trying to avoid bulking season by swapping comfort foods for nutrient-rich options, your salad better freaking excite you. Amirite?!
For this reason, we decided to compile a list of bomb salads that won't ruin your body wins. From sweet potato to caramel apple to chickpea salad, this list of no-leaves-allowed ideas will change the way you view, talk about, and chow down on salad. Enjoy! And for more ways to fight the extra layer of poundage this winter, don't miss these 26 Most Overlooked Ways to Lose Weight!
SUN DRIED TOMATO MEDITERRANEAN ZUCCHINI NOODLE SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 132 calories, 9.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 237 mg sodium, 10.2 g carbs, 4.3 g fiber, 2.9 g sugar, 4.3 g protein
When zoodles were introduced, they transformed the way fit foodies looked at pasta. Super low in calories and carbs (and virtually fat-free), the zucchini noodles were a dietary godsend—and still are. But this dish does more than transform a typically calorie-laden bowl. With sundried tomatoes, feta, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, this is a superfood dream team.
Get the recipe from Whole and Heavenly Oven.
BUFFALO CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 253 calories, 6.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 428 mg sodium, 27.6 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 2.6 g sugar, 20 g protein
Hot sauce swag is in and it's heating up mouths and metabolisms. But aside from the fact that this recipe is drenched in the stuff, it also contains 20 grams of protein, a macronutrient that can boost metabolism, increase satiety and boost lean muscle mass. Recent findings suggest that those who stagger their protein consumption throughout the day—consuming approximately 20 grams per meal—not only ditch more pounds but are more likely to keep the weight off.
Get the recipe from Emily Bites.
SKINNY CARAMEL APPLE SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 222 calories, 10.3 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 64 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 15.6 g sugar, 7.2 g protein
Dessert and salad have never been a thing…until now. And just in time for apple season! So, grab your baskets and get picking.
Get the recipe from Crazy For Crust.
WHITE BEAN RED PEPPER SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 295 calories, 4.2 g fat (<1 g saturated), 19 mg sodium, 48.3 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 3.6 g sugar, 18 g protein
Knocking out nearly a day's worth of fiber, almost a third of the daily recommendation for protein, and barely sneaking in any fat or sodium—this nutritional profile is a health conscious dieter's dream. And it's all thanks to white beans, which are packed with hunger-busting protein, slow-digesting carbs, slimming fiber and a plethora of nutrients including folate, iron magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc. Still afraid of complex carbs like white beans? Check out these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss.
Get the recipe from An Edible Mosaic.
HEALTHY RED POTATO AND DILL SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 165 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 70 mg sodium, 33.4 g carbs, 3.4 g fiber, 4.9 g sugar, 6.1 g protein
Greek yogurt and dill transform this normally-nutrient-void salad into a filling, wholesome side dish. Dill is an antibacterial, free-radical and carcinogen-fighting herb. Not to mention it can prevent bone loss, a chronic issue for women.
Get the recipe from Table For Two.
HONEY LIME QUINOA FRUIT SALAD
Nutrition (per ⅔ cup serving): 195 calories, 2.1 g fat (0 g saturated), 3 mg sodium, 41.2 g carbs, 4.9 g fiber, 19.4 g sugar, 4.9 g protein
Quinoa and fruit might not be the first food pairing you think to toss into your salad bowl, but they make an absolutely lethal combo—especially when they're topped with a homemade honey lime dressing. And don't let the sugar count scare you; there's nothing artificial here.
Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.
ROASTED PUMPKIN COUSCOUS SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 252 calories, 3.1 g fat (2 g saturated), 159 mg sodium, 48.5 g carbs, 3.7 g fiber, 8.5 g sugar, 8.5 g protein
Not that we need to do much convincing here—it's pumpkin season and everyone's caught the bug—but the fall superfood is a potent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that protects vision, immunity, reproduction and bone health. (Just don't be fooled into thinking all pumpkin flavored foods are a green light like this one.)
Get the recipe from Southern In Law.
CALIFORNIA SPAGHETTI SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 147 calories, 7 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 346 mg sodium, 17.2 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 4.2 g sugar, 4.4 g protein (calculated light Italian dressing)
Once winter hits, it's nothing but California dreamin'. Store this recipe away for those moments when you want a break from your healthy crock pot recipes and need a sunny escape. It's light, delicious, and full of veggies.
Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.
BACON PEA SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 222 calories, 12.6 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 503 mg sodium, 11.2 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 15.7 g protein (calculated with plain greek yogurt in place of mayo and no salt)
As kids, many of us avoided peas like the plague. But peas are nutritional champions, boasting vitamin K, manganese, B vitamins, phosphorus, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. Who needs a multivitamin when you can just consume a cup of this scrumptious salad instead? Plus: Bacon!
Get the recipe from Foodie WIth Family.
WATERMELON GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 169 calories, 10.2 g fat (7 g saturated), 102 mg sodium, 9.7 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8.6 g sugar, 9 g protein
Even though summer is behind us, we're not completely over watermelon—and can you blame us? It's hydrating, fights muscle fatigue, reduces bloat, and even blasts
stomach fat. In fact, according to research at the University of Kentucky, eating watermelon improves lipid profiles and lowers fat accumulation. Make the most of its slimming health benefits with this juicy salad.
Get the recipe from My Suburban Kitchen.
ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 90 calories, 1.3 g fat (0 g saturated), 369 mg sodium, 12.8 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7.7 g sugar, 3.5 g protein
Hydrating cucumbers, antioxidant-rich bell pepper, vision-protecting carrots, and depression-fighting edamame? Yep, this is salad is your anti-aging, mood-lifting savor.
Get the recipe from Fav Family Recipes.
ROASTED CARROT AND CHICKPEA SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 313 calories, 15.4 g fat (2.9 g saturated), 247 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 7.6 g sugar, 13 g protein (calculated without salt)
Here's a quick fiber 101: Fiber slows the rate at which we digest food, keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable while keeping hunger at bay. It also aids digestion, clinging to dietary toxins and removing them from the body. Whether you're looking to shrink your waist or to naturally detox, this salad contains 10 grams of your best dietary weapon.
Get the recipe from Perry's Plate.
GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH PEACHES AND BALSAMIC
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving) : 161 calories, 10.8 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 18 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 5.2 g fiber, 8.6 g sugar, 2.8 g protein
Green beans are a versatile, affordable, and accessible veggie that can be grown in climates all over the world, year round—making them the perfect solution to another boring salad. Plus, they're packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and gut-friendly fiber and credited with preventing colon cancer, vision degeneration, moderating diabetes, and boosting immunity.
Get the recipe from Brooklyn Supper.
GREEK STYLE SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 157 calories, 11.2 g fat (3.1 g saturated), 291 mg sodium, 13.3 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3.7 g sugar, 3.5 g protein
Not only is this dish lower in calories and carbs than the starchy original, but it's also gluten-free. Still not sure what the deal is with gluten? Check out these 35 Gluten-Free Questions Answered in Five Words or Less.
Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.
FRESH PEACH BASIL SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 59 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 31 mg sodium, 14.7 g carbs, 1.8 g fiber, 13.3 g sugar, 1.1 g protein
Sometimes, you just need a refreshing side dish—especially as the temperatures drop and we get stuck in hibernation. This salad tosses peaches, fresh basil, and honey and tops it with satiating, creamy goat cheese. Just the right combo of mint, earthy and sweet, it'll revive even the most boring meal.
Get the recipe from A Spicy Perspective.
SPIRALIZED VEGETABLE NOODLE SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS
Nutrition (per ¾ cup serving): 192 calories, 9 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 72 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 5.4 g sugar, 7 g protein
The low-cal spiralized veggies in this salad are topped with belly-slimming, gut-friendly chickpeas. And according to a study published in the journal Obesity, people who consume a single daily serving of chickpeas report feeling 31 percent fuller. The tiny magic bullets are one of those high fiber foods that fill you up without filling you out.
Get the recipe from Jessica Gavin.
ROASTED SWEET POTATO SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 153 calories, 5 g fat (<1 g saturated), 256 mg sodium, 25.3 g carbs, 4.2 g fiber, 4.3 g sugar, 3.2 g protein
If you're not a potato salad person, we get it. Mayo-y, mushy white carbs are not for everyone—but we think this recipe is. The yellow spuds are combined with red peppers, corn, onion, and black beans, tossed with lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, and cayenne pepper, and then topped with cilantro. Aside from being a nutritional powerhouse, this dish compliments just about any dish. Plus, it can be served at any temperature and either right away or later.
Get the recipe from Avery Cookes.
CREAMY BROCCOLI SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 274 calories, 17.6 g fat (5.5 g saturated), 499 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 6.6 g sugar, 17 g protein (calculated without plain greek yogurt in place of light mayo)
Substituting Greek yogurt in for mayo does more than slash fat and calories. In fact, researchers from the University of Tennessee found that dieting participants who ate 18 ounces of the tangy stuff on a daily basis shed 22 percent more weight. And that's not all; they also lost a whopping 81 percent more belly fat than their fellow calorie cutters.
Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.
CAULIFLOWER MOCK POTATO SALAD
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 100 calories, 5 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 163 mg sodium, 9.3 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5.9 g sugar, 5.8 g protein (calculated light sour cream and no salt)
Cauliflower is like that quiet friend who grows up and turns into a hot shot lawyer. Their simplistic nature allowed you to overlook the hidden talents they had up their sleeve. From sneaking its way into pizza, rice, tater tot, hummus, and grilled cheese recipes to replacing spuds all together, cauliflower is one of the best-hidden diet secrets. Haven't had an opportunity to take advantage of their versatile texture, flavor, and slimming nutritional profile? Now's your chance with this recipe or any of these 17 Ways to Use Cauliflower!
Get the recipe from The Kitchen Is My Playground.
CUCUMBER TOMATO AVOCADO SALAD
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 220 calories, 19.6 g fat (3.8 g saturated), 10 mg sodium, 12.5 g carbs, 6.4 g fiber, 3.9 g sugar, 2.6 g protein (calculated without salt)
Avocados are the perfect weight loss food. No other fruit can fight cancer, spot reduces belly fat, lower bad cholesterol, boost overall nutrient absorption, quell hunger pains, fuel your workout, and improve your overall diet. Combined with hydrating cucumber and antioxidant-rich tomatoes, this salad puts all others to shame.
Get the recipe from Natasha's Kitchen.