A salad is a meal that consists of mixed pieces of food items, sometimes with more than one raw ingredient. It is usually dressed and served at the room’s temperature or chilled (some can be served warm).
The main ingredients are usually vegetables or fruits, some additional protein, which is then mixed into a sauce. There are diverse ways to toss up a plate of salad with the end result satisfying you. It can also be served at any point or stage of a meal, either as an appetizer or main course, side salad, dessert salad or as the only dish of the meal with each course different from the others. However, this article aims to tackle the common question often asked by keto dieters, that is, can I eat my salads while I’m on keto?
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The term “salad” comes to English from the French salade having the same meaning, it is an abbreviated form of the earlier Vulgar Latin herba salata (salted greens), from the Latin salata (salted), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appeared as “salad” or “sallet” in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine (a solution of salt in water) or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times. The use of salad bar, referring to buffet-style serving of salad ingredients, first appeared in American English in the 1960s.
The ancient Greeks, Romans and Persians used to eat mixed greens with dressing, this is a type of mixed salad. Salad which includes layered and dressed salads have been popular in Europe since the Greek and Roman imperial expansions. There are different types of salad, and the ingredients of which can be specifically laid or tossed together to the preference of the cook.
Major Types of Salad
Green salad: also known as garden salad, this salad uses a base of leafy greens like lettuce, arugula/rocket, kale or spinach (this type is so common that usually the name salad is used to refer to the vegetable filled salad type). If most of the ingredients used in this type of salad is non-green, then it is called vegetable salad. Other raw vegetables used in making it are peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, mushroom, avocado, olives, green beans, celery, carrot, watercress, artichoke hearts and can be garnished with boiled egg, bacon, shrimps or cheese (vegetable salad with a large quantity of animal-based food would be perfect for a main course salad).
Wedge salad: a wedge salad is a green salad made from a head of lettuce (usually iceberg) halved or quartered, and has other ingredients on top.
Fruit salad: fruit salads are made of fruit which may be fresh or canned respectively. Fruit cocktail is an example of fruit salad.
Rice and Pasta salads: Rice and pasta may be used as the key ingredient to making a salad. Some varieties of rice salads are from Thai cuisine, like Nasi ulam.
Bound salads: this is an American-style potato salad with egg and mayonnaise. Bound salads are assembled with thick sauces (example: mayonnaise) and a portion placed on a plate with a scoop would hold it’s shape. Examples of this type of salad are tuna salad, egg salad, coleslaw, potato salad and chicken salad. It could also be used as sandwich fillings and are popular at picnics and barbecues.
Dinner salads: this is also known as main course salads may consist of tiny pieces poultry, seafood, cheese or streak. Examples are Caesar salad, Chef salad, Cobb salad, Chinese Chicken salad, Michigan Salad and its likes.
Dessert salads: dessert salads rarely include leafy greens and are usually tilting towards being sweet. Most variants are prepared with gelatin or whipped cream; examples are jello salad, pistachio salad, and ambrosia. Other forms of dessert salads include Snickers salad, glorified rice, and cookie salad.
In Western culture, there are two major types of salad dressing, namely:
- Vinaigrette dressings
- Creamy dressings
The Vinaigrettes dressing is based on a mixture of salad oil and vinegar and is often flavored with herbs, spices, salt, pepper, sugar, and other ingredients.
On the other hand, the creamy dressings are usually prepared with mayonnaise or fermented milk products, such as yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk. Other salad dressings include: Balsamic vinaigrette, Blue cheese dressing, Caesar salad dressing, French dressing, Ginger dressing, Green goddess dressing, Peanut sauce, Italian dressing and the likes.
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The Keto-Salad Relationship
With a couple of changes, you can eat every type of salad on Keto without going off ketosis. First, you have to cut off every ingredient that is not keto-friendly replacing it with a keto-friendly ingredient, examples: you cut out sauces like Worcestershire sauce and go for Romano cheese in place of Parmesan cheese.
Keto as we all know is a diet plan that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates and moderate in protein. This diet plan should not be a long term practise and should vigorously be monitored by your nutritionist to help you balance it and avoid health issues related to it.
For this write-up, we would be using Caesar salad as our study case.
The breakdown of the basic ingredients of a Keto-friendly Caesar salad includes:
- Anchovies: these are salty flavored and are naturally equipped with heart-healthy, anti-inflammation fighting omega-3 fatty acids. They are a must in Caesar.
- Egg: is a must use in Caesar salad as it is 100% keto friendly. Its yolk helps bring the dressing together and coats the lettuce.
- Lemon Juice and Other Acids: lemon juice and it’s likes contains zero carbs and are necessary in balancing the high amount of fat in the salad’s dressing.
- Garlic: while Garlic and onions have more carbs per gram than every other keto-friendly vegetables like dark leafy greens, for a recipe that calls for a small clove, it adds only a trace amount of additional carbs. It can be skipped according to your preference.
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil: this can be used in the preparation of the salad. Extra-virgin olive oil is filled with healthy monounsaturated fats, which are an essential part of the keto diet.
- Romano or Parmesan Cheese: while both are hard cheeses, Romano has slightly less carbs per gram than the Parmesan cheese and can totally be part of your Caesar salad make-up.
- Croutons: not allowed but it could be replaced with a keto friendly imitation.
Recipe for a Keto Caesar Salad
As with other Keto friendly meals, this contains a high percentage of fat and little carbohydrates. It can be mixed with protein by adding hard boiled egg, chicken, shrimps, tuna, salmon or any other animal-based food item.
- 4 anchovies packed in oil (drained)
- 1 garlic clove (halved)
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder, (optional)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 hearts of romaine (chopped)
- 1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan (about 2 ounces).
For The Dressing
- You are to soak the anchovies in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry after which you then finely chop and mash to form a paste.
- Rub the cut-side of the garlic all over the inside of a large wooden salad bowl.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Gently lower the egg into the water, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and let it stand 5 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the egg under cold water, crack into the salad bowl. Whisk in the anchovy paste with the vinegar, lemon juice and mustard powder (if available), until smooth.
- Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it emulsifies.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the lettuce and one-third of the Romano to the salad bowl with the dressing and gently toss.
- Divide among plates and top with the remaining Romano or Parmesan cheese.
You could also use one tablespoon of any Keto-friendly mayonnaise in place of egg. This would be enough for 4 moderate servings and takes about the total 30 minutes (20 minutes of which is for the actual preparation). It’s nutritional information per serving is 320 calories, 32 gram fat (6 gram saturated fat), 55 gram cholesterol, 330 microgram sodium, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 gram dietary fiber, 0 gram sugar, 7 gram protein.
While croutons are generally prohibited on keto diet, if you desire a crouton-like bite for your salad, it could be swapped with it’s Keto-friendly imitation.
Recipe For Keto-friendly Croutons:
- Cut the cheese into half an inch per piece and toss with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Arrange these in a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium high.
- Cook until the bottoms are well browned in spots, for about 3 minutes.
- Turn over and cook the other sides until browned as well, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Add finely chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, if you desire, and toss to coat.
- Add this to your Caesar salad.
For a Cheese Crispy crouton-like taste, follow these steps:
- 3/4 cup finely shredded full-fat sharp Cheddar
- 1/4 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
- Toss in the Cheddar, Romano and garlic powder together in a small bowl.
- Spoon in heaps of tablespoonful of the cheese mixture about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spread out each pile and lightly pat down.
- Bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
- Let the crisps cool on the baking sheet for flat crisps (or use a metal spatula to lift and drape them over a rolling pin to cool completely).
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
This serves up to 12 crisps and can be prepared within 15 minutes.
Salad can be served as a main course, appetizer, dessert, only course, side dish or in whatever phase of meal you want it. Salads of any type can be served on keto without going off ketosis, the most important step is to always replace the ingredients prohibited on keto with it’s Keto-friendly counterpart. It can be layered out or tossed up and still enchants the palate. Most ingredients used in preparing salads medically benefit the human body and are produced naturally. In your next keto based meal plan, be sure to add in some great Keto-friendly salad to spice it all up.