Guide to Delicious Low Carb Salads & Dressings
It should come as no surprise that salads play a very important role in the low carb diet. By their very nature, most salads are inherently low carb and therefore are a perfect fit for any low carb meal plan. However, as with anything else you eat as part of your diet, a few tips and some helpful advice will equip you with the knowledge you need to take your low carb salads to the next level. In this article, we’ll talk about how some salads can have carbs in unexpected places, as well as run through some of the top ingredients for great salads. Lastly, we’ll talk about some amazing salad dressings that our customers just love, and cap it all off with a fantastic low carb salad recipe that you’ll want to try today. Let’s get to it!
Hidden Carbs in Salads
While it may seem obvious that salads are low carb, what many don’t realize is that there are certain ingredients that can lurk in the mix that contain hidden carbs. If you’re not paying close enough attention to them, their carbs can really add up fast and set your diet progress back. Sometimes these carbs are easier to see, such as croutons or tortilla crisps. In other cases, carb counts can increase in more subtle ways, such as dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries that can raise sugar levels.
Other times, the kind of salad also dictate how high in carbs it can be. For example, even though coleslaw is virtually made entirely of cabbage, many common coleslaw dressings are loaded with added sugars. Pasta salad, potato salad, and many types of bean salad also lie on the higher end of the carb spectrum. While they certainly can be made in low-carb versions, they are not very common at restaurants or supermarkets. Be sure to keep this in mind when browsing the salad bar and making your choices.
Great Ingredients for Tasty Low Carb Salads
Now that you know some of the common things to watch out for when crafting a great low carb salad, let’s dive in to some of the best ingredients you can select from. Let’s start with the foundation of any salad and examine the most popular greens that are available.
While many salads call for the classic iceberg lettuce, it tends to lack some of the flair and flavour of some other lettuce varieties. Romaine lettuce is the standard for Caesar salads, and has a great crunch and slightly bitter taste that works well with all kinds of other salad types and dressings. Green leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce are popular options for many garden and chef salad creations, since they have a nice, mild flavour and a bit more colour to add some visual appeal to salads.
Spinach and Other Greens
Lettuce isn’t the only option as a base for your salad. Spinach is an extremely popular option for many salad eaters since it’s got a different flavour than lettuce, and is packed with great vitamins and nutrients. For those of us who like a little of everything, a spring mix is a great option that combines multiple types of greens in one salad to provide a colourful and unique taste that’s different from a typical lettuce or spinach salad.
Meat and Proteins
For low carb dieters, loading up their salad with their favourite meat is a great way to turn a side salad in to a satisfying and filling meal. The most common choice here is grilled chicken. It’s a great source of protein that works well with virtually any salad dressing and combination of vegetables, and can be served on top of a salad either hot and fresh off the grill or cold from the refrigerator.
Steak salads are very popular, too. Many restaurants have a steak salad option on their menus, and will cook the steak to the doneness of your liking. Steak can also be served cold, if that is what you prefer, much in the same way that chicken can be used.
Seafood salads are increasing in popularity, which is great news for those of us who crave crab, shrimp, and lobster. Making a cold seafood salad is a great way to add variety to your salad selections, and keep things from getting too repetitive and boring.
Other Vegetables and Ingredients
Once you’ve picked your base ingredients, it’s time to get creative with all the other stuff you want to include. Making a low carb Caesar salad is pretty simple, since you just need to use a low carb crouton, like these amazing low carb garlic parmesan croutons from Harper and Annissa at SimlySoHealthy.com. These are low carb and keto, and they taste amazing with a great crunch. Finish you Caesar with some mushrooms, bacon bits, low carb Caesar dressing, and some shredded parmesan and you’re ready to go.
Chef or garden salads are even easier to create, since they can really include any combination of ingredients that you prefer. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are tasty ways to add a flash of colour to your salads. Radishes are popular, as is red onion and shredded carrot. You can always add a Greek taste twist to your salad by throwing in some olives and feta cheese. Fresh strawberries or raspberries are also a nice addition to garden salads, since they add a little sweetness in to the mix. Just be cautious not to go too wild with sugary fruits, since this is a way to increase the carb counts if you’re not paying close enough attention.
Low Carb and Sugar Free Dressings
Choosing a salad dressing to go with your creation can be easy, such as with a Caesar salad, but sometimes the massive variety of dressings you’ll find on an average grocery store shelf can be hard to choose from. Oil-based dressings or vinaigrettes are generally pretty safe options for most low carb diets, just be sure to check the label to make sure there aren’t any hidden carbs that you may have missed. Things start to get a little trickier when looking at creamier or sweeter dressings, since these can often contain a great deal of sugar.
Fortunately for low carb dieters, there are many amazing salad dressings to choose from that are specifically crafted to be low carb and sugar free. For example, Walden Farms has a great selection of salad dressings of all kinds that are healthy and delicious, and are a favourite choice among our customers. You can choose from such flavours as Bacon Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette, French, Italian, and more.
Browse the full range of Walden Farms salad dressings here.
Get Creative with Salads
Even though salads may seem boring at first, once you start to explore all the different options, try some new dressings, and experiment with some unusual ingredients, you’ll find that salads can really be a lot of fun. Making delicious and unusual salad creations can be an exciting part of your weekly meal plan, and since it’s so easy to customize your salad however you want, you’ll find that the whole family can get involved and have fun together. So, start experimenting with some new low carb salad ideas today, and enjoy!