You may be surprised to learn that we Southerners love salads. In fact, salads tend to be a huge part of our cultural diet. We eat them at picnics and holidays, for dinner, and as sides. That’s right; the South is the unsung hero in nurturing salad eating fiends! Of course by salad I mean those of the potato, pasta, and protein—tuna and chicken—variety. Unfortunately none of these are “super foods” and they’re typically laden with mayonnaise. The only thing super about them is they tend to be super tasty. They also tend to be super rich in calories and fat. What they lack in nutrition, they make up for in inspiration. Think salads sans leafy greens. Can they be healthy?
Leafy greens are usually the foundation of salads and with good reason. They help strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and are chock full of vitamins A, C, E, and K. Nutrition gurus typically advise that greens be mixed with vegetables, fruits, or nuts, with optional, grilled proteins, and a light hand when it comes to the dressing. However, these toppings can themselves be salads. This Southern girl — in an effort to stay motivated with eating healthy — has stretched her definition of what a salad is and can be without sabotaging her diet or taste buds.
Salads need not always be a bed of greens nor dolled up with cream based dressings. There are many healthy ingredients in between those two polarizing definitions of what salads are. It isn’t a very novel idea. Simply look to other countries for inspiration that use cabbage, lentils, grains, beans, or edible roots instead of leafy greens as the base. The combinations are endless.
Here's a roundup of the best salads without lettuce!
Whether you eat Greek salad as a prelude to a traditional feast or as a stand alone dish, this salad will not bore the senses with its many textures and colors. Opa!
Avocado, Mint, and Quinoa Salad
Quinoa is a healthy and hearty vegetable (yes, it's a vegetable!) that tastes good as both a hot side or a cold salad.