Start the Year Off Fresh with a Satisfying Salad

Winter may not feel like salad season, but swapping out some common comfort foods may be the first step to reaching your New Year’s health goal.  Since salads are packed with vegetables, they tend to add substance with fewer calories than other meals. Adding some flare can transform a dull iceberg salad into a colorful, comforting meal. So try one of these satisfying swaps today!

Instead of Buffalo Chicken Wings…
Buffalo Chicken Salad


2 tbsp hot sauce
2 tsp olive oil
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 carrots, coarsely grated
2 scallions, green part only, sliced
2 8-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 cups romaine cut into 1-inch strips
½ cup ranch or blue cheese dressing


1. Cut chicken into strips and coat with hot sauce and oil.
2. Broil chicken until cooked, about 4-6 minutes.
3. Combine vegetables with dressing and top with chicken.

Serves 4; 250 calories/serving
Recipe adapted from The Food Network, Ellie Krieger

Instead of a Turkey Cobb Wrap…
Pecan Turkey Salad


3-1/2 cups turkey deli meat
4 celery ribs, sliced
4 green onions, sliced
½ cup chopped sweet red pepper
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
12 cups of your favorite lettuce type

½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon dill weed or dried tarragon
Salt and pepper


1. Combine all the salad ingredients (excluding the dressing) in a large bowl.
2. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
3. Toss vegetables with dressing.

Serves 6; 350 calories/serving
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home “After Thanksgiving Salad”

Instead of a Quesadilla…
Mexican Chopped Salad


2-1/2 cups chopped lettuce
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained
¾ cup chopped tomato
¾ cup frozen corn
¾ cup thinly sliced radishes
Half a ripe avocado, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Honey-Lime Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
1 tsp chopped jalapeño pepper


1. Combine all salad ingredients (except the dressing ingredients) in a large bowl.
2. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
3. Toss salad components with dressing.

Serves 4; 330 calories/serving
Recipe adapted from “Mexican Chopped Salad”


Fix salads that leave you hungry an hour later by adding one of these protein-rich ingredients:

Chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon
Soy nuts or soybeans (also called edamame)
Black beans
Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts

Beware of salad dressings with more calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger, like many Caesar or Ranch dressings – which can have almost 350 calories in a quarter cup. 

Instead …

1. Choose dressing with fewer than 100 calories per serving and only use 2 tbsp. Toss or shake your salad to evenly coat it with dressing.

2. Try making your own dressing:

Mix two parts oil with one part vinegar and add honey, garlic, mustard, or lemon.

Substitute low-fat plain yogurt for mayonnaise or sour cream in creamy salad dressings.

Written By: Maggie Cook

Maggie is a dietetic intern at MGH originally from Potsdam, NY. She recently graduated from Cornell University where she studied nutrition and was on the Women’s Rowing team.

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Our Be Fit Nutritionists are comprised of dietetic interns studying at Massachusetts General Hospital. During their internship, they receive training on acute care nutrition, ambulatory and community nutrition, food service systems management, and research. Their comprehensive work is done in collaboration with registered dietitians.

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