16 SALADS TO HELP YOU LOSE A STONE

As a nutritionist, I always advocate slow, steady, sustainable weight loss rather than adopting a crazy fad diet that is destined to fail. Two pounds a week is a realistic target and by adding a few other calorie-burning habits, shedding a stone in six weeks is achievable with a bit of focus.

You’ll need to aim for a calorie intake of around 1,000 per day for women and 1,250 per day for men while in weight-loss mode to hit that 2lb target, which is about half the usual recommended intake of 2,000/2,500 calories per day. By eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, beans, seeds and plenty of fibre to help prevent cravings, it is possible to lose weight healthily and sustainably.*

Salads are your secret weapon if you’re trying to shape up for summer. Thankfully, the days of uninspiring lettuce, a few quartered tomatoes and perhaps a radish or two, if you’re lucky, are long gone. Salads are so much more these days, from sensational starters to spicy slaws and scrumptious side dishes. Simply add some protein and you’ve got a perfectly balanced meal. Salads are also naturally low in calories and can help aid weight loss, as long as you follow my simple “slimmer” salad rules.

  1. Extra virgin olive oil. We should all include extra virgin olive oil in our diet for its multiple health benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and super satiating to help regulate appetite. However, it’s calorific, so keep to 1 tbsp a day (124 calories).
  2. Nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and fibre and help with gut and heart health, but they are calorie-dense. Stick to no more than 30g a day, which, depending on the nut, is around 200 calories.
  3. Avocado. Avocado is an amazing source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), fibre and plant sterols, which have cholesterol-lowering effects. Again they are relatively high in calories, so a portion size would be one quarter of an avocado or 80 calories.
  4. Cheese. Despite being high in fat, cheese is a useful addition to a salad for protein purposes. Certain cheeses, such as aged cheddar, feta and parmesan, also have probiotic gut-health benefits. A sensible portion size is 30g or about 120 calories (for cheddar).
  5. Mayonnaise. Mayo, being high in fat, is a sure way to pile the calories onto your salad at 119 calories per tablespoon. You can usually swap it out for Greek yogurt at just 10 calories per tablespoon.
  6. Protein. Adding protein such as meat, chicken or seafood to a salad is the best way to make it more balanced and filling. Protein is not as calorific gram for gram as fat, but it can add lots of calories if you don’t stick to the right portion size, which equates to roughly the size of your palm.

* If you have any medical condition, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or have a history of eating disorders, do not make any significant changes to your diet without consulting your GP.

Jump to:

  • Vegetarian
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Starters, sides and slaws

Vegetarian

If you use the grater attachment on your food processor, a grated salad is the easiest way to combine a load of vegetables with minimum effort. Topping it with a spinachy omelette adds protein for a substantial, yet still calorie-light, meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 x 250g pouch of pre-cooked mixed grains
  • 1 small red cabbage, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped in half
  • 1 medium courgette, stalk removed and chopped in half
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into quarters

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of an orange
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp runny honey

For the eggs

  • 4 eggs, lightly whisked with a fork
  • 200g bag baby spinach
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Method

  1. To refresh the grains, first boil a kettle of water. Empty the pouch of grains into a sieve and, holding it over the sink, pour over the boiling water. Now run the cold tap over the grains and drain thoroughly.
  2. Next, put all the vegetables through your food processor on the coarse grater setting (or you can grate by hand). Place in a large salad bowl, add the grains and mix well.
  3. Put all the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar, season with salt and pepper and shake well. Pour over the vegetables and grain mixture, and toss thoroughly.
  4. To make the muddled eggs, heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat, add the spinach and allow to wilt down, stirring gently, before pouring over the whisked eggs. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for a minute before flipping to finish cooking on the other side. Cut into four and serve each quarter alongside a serving of salad.

If you aren’t already a fan of the pre-cooked lentils and grains you can buy in pouches, then perhaps this recipe will convert you. They are a simple way to get lean plant protein and lots of fibre into your diet, and can be added to curries, stews, soups or, as in this case, salads.

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom (or 2-3 pods, seeds removed and crushed)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 250g pack of pre-cooked puy lentils
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A few mint leaves, chopped, to garnish

Method 

  1. Put the yogurt, goat’s cheese, chilli, cardamom, half the lime juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a blender, and whizz up to make a creamy dressing.
  2. Place the lentils in a colander and rinse with boiling water to refresh, then place in a serving bowl and break up with a fork if they are a bit stuck together. Mix well with the dressing now, or serve on the side if you prefer.
  3. In a separate bowl, toss the tomatoes and onion in the remaining lime juice and olive oil, and then place on top of the dressed lentils. Add the chopped mint leaves to garnish.

Who doesn’t love a Greek salad? I certainly do, but at this time of year you need something a bit more robust, so this wintry version is made with roasted vegetables. It still has the classic herby, red wine vinegar dressing and hunks of salty feta on top. Serve with a wholemeal pita bread (1 pita = 145 calories).

Ingredients 

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks,
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 100g feta, broken into chunks

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.
  2. Place the chopped vegetables in a large glass baking dish, drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well and then bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Take out of the oven, add the tomatoes and mix well. Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Drizzle over the red wine vinegar and sprinkle over the oregano. Mix well, and then dot with feta chunks on top.

Who says low-calorie food has to be boring? Serving halloumi as crunchy croutons, you get all the squeaky saltiness, but use less than you might normally, meaning fewer calories.

Ingredients 

For the salad

  • 300g butternut squash, deseeded and cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 small red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100g halloumi, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 130g baby spinach leaves

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.
  2. Place the butternut squash cubes and red onion in a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small airtight container and giving it a good shake.
  4. Heat a good, non-stick frying pan, add the halloumi cubes and fry on a medium heat for about two minutes, tossing them around in the pan to get as many sides golden as possible. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. To assemble the salad, place the spinach leaves in a large salad bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well to coat. Arrange the butternut squash and onion over the top and then sprinkle over the halloumi croutons.

If you love the flavours of Mexico – avocado, tomato, chillies, lime – then this is a healthy, low-calorie assembly you can call on at any time of day. At just 312 calories, why not add a slice of crunchy wholegrain toast for extra texture (50g slice = 125 calories)?

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp jalapenos, from a jar
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method

  1. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan. In a bowl, whisk the eggs up with a fork. Pour into the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Gently fold the eggs over a few times until scrambled.
  2. Divide the eggs between two bowls and arrange the other ingredients around the eggs, drizzling over the lime juice to finish.

The main event here is iron, but this “supercharged” salad also contains vitamins A, C, E and K, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It can be easy to miss out on key micronutrients when you are consuming fewer calories, so this salad is a fabulously gut-friendly way to make sure you are getting enough.

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 130g baby spinach leaves
  • ½ x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed**
  • 40g dried apricots, finely sliced
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 40g kalamata olives, halved
  • 40g feta

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Method 

  1. Place a small non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and toast the pumpkin seeds for 2-3 minutes, tossing a few times in the pan.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients in a small lidded container with some salt and pepper, and shake well to combine.
  3. Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl, add the chickpeas, apricots, tomatoes and olives, and pour over the dressing. Toss well to coat everything thoroughly.
  4. Now place in a large serving bowl, crumble over the feta and sprinkle over the toasted pumpkin seeds.

** To use the leftover ½ tin of chickpeas, mix 1 tsp curry powder with a little oil, salt and pepper, coat the chickpeas with the mixture and roast in a hot oven (200C/180C fan/gas mark 6) for 35 mins, stirring once halfway through. This makes two snack-size portions of 85 calories.

Back to index

Fish

This is a lovely summery salad with seasonal, tender new potatoes as the base ingredient. It’s the perfect salad for eating al fresco, and the curry powder and smoked mackerel give it a kedgeree vibe. You could even add a couple of quartered hard-boiled eggs for more protein, if you fancy it.

Ingredients

  • 400g small new potatoes, washed and halved
  • ½ small red onion, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp thick plain Greek yogurt (like Fage brand)
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and flaked into large pieces
  • Some chopped chives (optional)

Method

  1. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Allow the cooked potatoes to cool to room temperature – you can soak them in cold water to speed this up or cook them in advance.
  2. Place the onions in a bowl and cover with boiling water from a kettle. Soak for a couple of minutes to blanch, and then drain.
  3. Mix the yogurt, curry powder and lemon juice in a large bowl and season with a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Add the cooled potatoes and red onions and mix well. Add the flaked smoked mackerel and gently combine.
  4. Place in a serving bowl and top with chives, if using.

When I’m in a rush and need something healthy and delicious, without breaking the calorie bank, this is what I have. Hopefully it will become a go-to calorie saver for you too.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ small red onion, finely sliced
  • ½ an avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tin of sardines, in olive oil, drained
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • A pinch of red chilli flakes
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • A small handful of chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley (optional)

To serve

  • 2 slices of good quality sourdough bread
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

Method

  1. On a plate, arrange the tomato, red onion and avocado slices and top with the sardine fillets. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle over the lemon zest and red chilli flakes and season with a good grind of salt and black pepper. Finally, top with the chopped herbs, if using.
  2. Toast the sourdough bread, rub each slice of toast vigorously on one side with half a clove of garlic to impart the flavour, and serve alongside the salad.

OK, so this is really just a posh tuna pasta salad, but this store-cupboard superstar deserves to be a lunchtime regular, and it’s pretty low-calorie to boot. It’s loaded with protein and fibre to keep you full, and it keeps well, so you can make a double batch and have it for lunch tomorrow, too.

Ingredients

  • 100g (dry weight) fusilli pasta
  • 1 x 400g can mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 145g can tuna in brine, drained
  • ½ small onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 50g pitted olives, roughly chopped – you can use green or black olives, or both

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp mixed dried herbs
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • To serve:
  • A small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, or perhaps a minute less to ensure it is al dente and not overcooked. Drain and run through with cold water, drain again and set aside.
  2. Place the beans, tuna, onion, tomato, olives and cooled pasta in a large serving bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl or shake together in a lidded jar. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to distribute.
  4. Sprinkle over the parsley just before serving.

Back to index

Meat

I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy the zingy freshness of Vietnamese food, so I’m sure you are going to love this aromatic chicken salad. The recipe uses pre-cooked chicken, so allow extra time if you need to pan-fry some from raw. The dressing has a distinctly Thai influence, which brings a lovely hum of spicy heat from chilli and ginger. Irresistible.

Ingredients 

For the salad

  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 75g green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 100g beansprouts
  • ¼ cucumber, diced
  • 200g pre-cooked chicken, without the skin, shredded
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • A small handful of mint leaves, chopped

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or other white vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Method 

  1. Heat a small frying pan and toast the sesame seeds for 1 minute until golden, and then set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Using the same pan, make the dressing. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, honey, chilli, garlic and lime juice to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir for a further minute or so, and then turn off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and set aside to cool.
  3. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and blanch the green beans for 1 minute.
  4. Drain and run under the cold tap to retain the nice green colour, and then transfer to a serving bowl. Add the pepper, beansprouts and cucumber, and toss together.
  5. Top with the shredded chicken, spring onions and mint. Dress just before serving and top with toasted sesame seeds.

I absolutely love the food of the Middle East, where bulgur wheat is a popular ingredient and a healthier, whole grain alternative to couscous. It’s used to delicious effect in this riff on tabbouleh, with the addition of a spicy dressing and some roast chicken for extra protein.

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 120g bulgur wheat
  • 60g flat-leaf parsley, tough stalks removed and finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced
  • 30g raisins
  • 200g pre-cooked chicken breast, sliced (use leftover roast chicken, or you can buy a pack of pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket)

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp date syrup (can also use maple syrup or honey)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Method

  1. Cook the bulgur wheat according to the packet instructions. Allow it to cool completely, then fluff with a fork and place it in a large bowl. Add the flat-leaf parsley, onion, tomato and raisins to the bowl and combine well.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over the salad and season generously with salt and pepper. Using a spatula, mix until everything is well coated in the dressing.
  3. Top with the chicken slices and serve.

Back to index

Starters, sides and slaws

This is a sumptuous hot salad starter that delivers tons of omega-3, fibre and calcium. At only 299 calories, you can afford to pair it with a couple of seedy oatcakes for the ultimate low-calorie, decadent treat.

Ingredients

  • 10g walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 figs, halved
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 75g feta
  • Black pepper

Method

  1. Heat a large griddle pan (or frying pan) on a medium heat and add the chopped walnuts. Toast until golden, tossing occasionally.
  2. Remove the walnuts from the pan and add the oil. Place the figs cut side down in the pan, place the rosemary sprigs between the figs and drizzle over the honey. Allow to cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until softened and starting to brown, but watch the heat to make sure it doesn’t burn. You ideally want nice griddle marks across the bottom of the figs.
  3. Arrange the figs griddled side up on a serving plate. Drizzle over the pan juices, crumble over the feta, add a grind of black pepper and sprinkle over the toasted walnuts.

Here’s a delicious and versatile low-calorie slaw, which tastes even better if made in advance and can sit happily in the fridge for a day or so. Beetroot, carrot and apple are natural bedfellows, the onion adds a welcome tang and the mint brings the whole thing to life.

Ingredients

  • 200g carrot, peeled
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 200g raw beetroot, peeled
  • 100g red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • A small handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Method

  1. Using the medium-sized grater in your food processor, grate the carrot, apple (you can leave the skin on) and beetroot.
  2. Place the grated vegetables in a large bowl and toss together with the sliced red onions and mint leaves.
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and then pour over the salad. Toss well.

Curtido is a Mexican dish like coleslaw but without the calorie-adding mayonnaise. It’s super fresh, zingy and bursting with goodness. This recipe has a tiny bit of sugar, which is needed to balance out the sharpness of the vinegar, but at ½ tsp per serving, it’s nothing to worry about and the calorie count is still super low.

Ingredients

  • 1 small white cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 100ml apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables. It’s easiest to do this using your food processor’s finest slicing and grating attachments, although you can do it by hand.
  2. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan for a couple of minutes over a low heat until dissolved, and then pour over the shredded vegetables and mix well.
  3. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. The coriander leaves can be added just before serving.

Strawberries are in season, making them the perfect summer salad ingredient. You’re also getting six different plant foods here to help improve gut health, which can aid weight management by improving digestion and better regulating appetite hormones.

Ingredients

  • 20g pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 100g sugar snap peas
  • 100g broccoli, cut into small florets
  • ½ small red onion, sliced
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • 50g strawberries, husked and sliced

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 50g feta, diced into 1cm cubes
  • Black pepper

Method

  1. Heat a small pan and toast the pine nuts for a couple of minutes, on a medium heat, until golden. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a large frying pan or wok on a low heat. Add the water, sugar snap peas, broccoli and red onion, cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in a large salad bowl.
  3. To make the dressing, add the oil, vinegar and honey to the pan and then pour it over the vegetables. Add the spinach leaves, strawberries, feta and a good grind of black pepper to the bowl and toss lightly.
  4. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts to serve.

If I am really struggling for inspiration but I know I want to eat something low-calorie, healthy and filling, then roasting some vegetables is a good start. This particular combination is a favourite and, to save time later in the day, you can roast the vegetables in advance so they have time to cool.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon)
  • ¼ tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 small butternut squash, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • A handful of mint leaves, picked and finely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210/190C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, all the spices and chilli flakes, if using. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the squash (you can leave the skin on) and onion and place in a large roasting tin. Pour over the oil and spice mixture, stir to coat the vegetables, and then tuck the lemon wedges into the tin. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Take the roasting tin out of the oven, add the tomatoes and chickpeas and give everything a good stir. Roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool***.
  5. To make the dressing, mix the yogurt, chopped mint leaves, the juice squeezed from the roasted lemons and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle over the vegetables and chickpeas just before serving.

*** This can be eaten warm, cooled to room temperature or cold from the fridge.

Back to index

Recommended

How to lose (almost) half a stone in six weeks

Read more

Play The Telegraph’s brilliant range of Puzzles - and feel brighter every day. Train your brain and boost your mood with PlusWord, the Mini Crossword, the fearsome Killer Sudoku and even the classic Cryptic Crossword.

2024-07-10T11:01:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd