Build a delicious, good-for-you salad with Joy Bauer's simple steps

Putting together a fresh, colorful, balanced salad can make an excellent lunch or dinner option— if you do it right. Follow our tips as part of the "16 to '16 Challenge" with lifestyle correspondent Jenna Wolfe and diet expert Joy Bauer.

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Here are simple steps to build a delicious good-for-you meal:

  1. Start with a solid base. Go for dark leafy greens rich in nutrients like mesclun, arugula, or baby spinach. A couple of cups will cost you 20 calories or less, so feel free to pile on as much as you want!
  2. Load up on veggies. At about 25 calories (or less) per 1/2 cup, you really can’t go wrong with vegetables. Pile on your favorites — or whatever is in the fridge. Carrots, cucumber, broccoli, radish, mushrooms— the sky is the limit.
  3. Add protein. Protein is what elevates your salad from a side dish to a meal. Try egg whites, poultry, fish, tofu, or beans.
  4. Pick one extra. There are certain ingredients that transform your salad from good to amazing. Of course, sometimes those ingredients, while packed with nutrients, can also be high in calories. So, choose wisely and add sparingly: a couple tablespoons of cheese, a tablespoon of chopped nuts or seeds, an ounce of avocado, 10 small olives, or a couple tablespoons of dried fruit.
  5. Dress it up Light Balsamic Vinegar or low-cal Buttermilk Ranch. Don’t undo all your hard work by dousing your greens with fattening dressing. Stick with lighter varieties whenever possible and keep the amount to a couple of tablespoons, tops. If you’re at home, try making your own dressing — it’s super easy! Try my Light Balsamic Vinegar recipe at only 30 calories per tablespoon, or my low-cal Buttermilk Ranch at just 11 calories per tablespoon.

For more of the "16 to '16 Challenge" go here