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What Are the Different Types of Low Calorie Salads?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Low calorie salads may be main or side dishes. They can be fruit or vegetable based and may or may not include grains or protein. In order for a salad to be considered low calorie, the dressing used must be not be high in calories as well. Low calorie salads may have many ingredients or as little as two.

For example, mixing sliced cucumbers with some vinegar and chilling before serving can create a refreshing low calorie side salad to serve alongside meat, poultry or fish. A green side salad may be as simple as serving washed and torn lettuce with a low calorie vinaigrette dressing. To make a low calorie vinaigrette salad dressing, orange juice or vinegar may be combined with olive or canola oil. Seasonings such as pepper, mustard and garlic powder can add flavor. Although low calorie dressings are available commercially, homemade versions may reduce the sodium count as well as avoid food additives.

Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad.
Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad.

Commercial, reduced calorie mayonnaise based dressing may be used to make a slimmer version of macaroni salad. Macaroni low calorie salads can further be made healthier by using whole wheat pasta. Some home cooks like to use some plain, nonfat yogurt in with low calorie mayonnaise to mix into cooked whole wheat macaroni. Another way to make a creamy low calorie salad dressing is to place cottage cheese in a blender with lemon juice and seasonings and mix until smooth. Thinly sliced celery or chopped green onions make a good addition to a low calorie, creamy pasta salad.

Hard-boiled eggs are a low-calorie salad ingredient.
Hard-boiled eggs are a low-calorie salad ingredient.

Besides pasta, croutons are another way to add grains to a salad. Commercial flavored croutons can be high in salt and fat, but toasting multi-grain bread and cutting it into squares can make a healthy topping for low calorie salads. Croutons and low calorie dressing may be added to a simple lettuce based salad. Instead of lettuce, using raw spinach in a low calorie salad will add more vitamins and nutrients. A classic spinach salad with sliced hard boiled egg and creamy dressing can be made lower calorie by using a low fat cottage cheese topping as described above.

Garlic powder adds flavor to a low calorie salad dressing.
Garlic powder adds flavor to a low calorie salad dressing.

In addition to sliced, hard boiled eggs, other proteins that can make a salad a meal are leftover cooked meat or poultry slices. Adding canned fish to low calorie salads is another option. Thinly sliced green pepper and celery make great vegetable additions to salad meals. Leftover cooked vegetables such as kernel corn or green beans may also be added to a low calorie salad.

A low-calorie salad can be served with protein, such as chicken.
A low-calorie salad can be served with protein, such as chicken.

Low calorie fruit salads either have no dressing or a low fat one rather than whipped cream or a sugary topping. When fruits are used in low calorie salads, virtually any type may be used, but the portion size should be monitored. Eating a very large bowl of fruit salad can mean consuming hundreds of calories if a whole banana, apple, orange and/or other fruits are eaten.

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    • Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad.
      By: James Cohen
      Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad.
    • Hard-boiled eggs are a low-calorie salad ingredient.
      By: Natika
      Hard-boiled eggs are a low-calorie salad ingredient.
    • Garlic powder adds flavor to a low calorie salad dressing.
      By: Comugnero Silvana
      Garlic powder adds flavor to a low calorie salad dressing.
    • A low-calorie salad can be served with protein, such as chicken.
      By: B. and E. Dudzinscy
      A low-calorie salad can be served with protein, such as chicken.
    • Croutons can add grain to a salad.
      By: marilyn barbone
      Croutons can add grain to a salad.
    • Spinach can add more nutrition to a salad then regular iceberg lettuce.
      By: anjelagr
      Spinach can add more nutrition to a salad then regular iceberg lettuce.
    • Celery is a popular ingredient in salads because it extremely low in calories.
      By: andersphoto
      Celery is a popular ingredient in salads because it extremely low in calories.
    • Low-fat bruschetta salad with fresh basil and diced tomatoes.
      By: Silken Photography
      Low-fat bruschetta salad with fresh basil and diced tomatoes.
    • Whole-wheat pasta can be used to make a healthy pasta salad.
      By: Viktor
      Whole-wheat pasta can be used to make a healthy pasta salad.
    • Cottage cheese can be blended with seasonings to make a creamy, low-calorie dressing.
      By: nata777_7
      Cottage cheese can be blended with seasonings to make a creamy, low-calorie dressing.