salad in bowl on wood table

You love a good salad loaded with yummy greens and vegetables, but you are wary of the high fat and calorie count of many dressings. Set aside the ranch and blue cheese and even avoid the olive oil; you can have a tasty salad without dressing. Juicy veggies, succulent fruits and flavor-enhancing spices make the prospect of a delicious salad even healthier.

Let chopped cucumbers, chopped ripe avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, raw corn cut off the cob, chopped canned artichoke hearts and canned cut green beans add moisture to your mixed greens. Sprinkle on some salad seasoning to release the flavors and toss it all until the avocado starts to fall apart and coat the lettuce. Top your salad with strips of grilled eggplant or sauteed chicken.

Make a grilled -- yes, grilled -- watermelon salad. Lightly char thick wedges of seedless, rindless watermelon and top them with feta cheese, alfalfa sprouts, lime juice, salt, pepper and a handful of toasted nuts. For a zesty salad, toss halved strawberries and diced watermelon with a combination of arugula, spinach, blue cheese, cracked pepper and warm bacon bits. Ripe papaya and avocado play well together when tossed with romaine lettuce, rings of sweet red onions, lime juice, sliced Thai peppers -- in moderation -- and small cooked shrimp.


Salting watermelon before adding it to your salad makes the melon juicier and seem sweeter.

Make a Mexican salad in a tortilla bowl. Just layer refried beans and sauteed ground beef seasoned with taco mix in the bottom of the shell. Add a thick helping of shredded lettuce -- salt and pepper it to release the moisture -- and top it with grated Jack and cheddar cheese, sliced pickled jalapenos, sour cream and sliced black olives. Pour on some deli salsa, add a scoop of guacamole and you're good to go. Best of all, you have the juicy goodness at the bottom to scoop up with broken pieces of the tortilla bowl.

The Southwest steak or chicken salad that you see on the menu is easy to replicate at home, even without dressing. Mash up a ripe avocado with some lemon juice and Southwest seasoning and toss it with your lettuce in a plastic bag. Put the lettuce in a big bowl, add canned diced green chilies, canned drained black beans, fresh or canned corn and a bit of mild green tomatillo sauce. Finally, pile on strips of grilled and seasoned steak or chicken and serve with a side of tortilla chips.

We know that the Mediterranean diet has health advantages; you don't have to spring for an Aegean cruise to enjoy a Greek salad. All you need are quartered tomatoes, lots of Kalamata olives, red onion rings, sliced cucumbers, yellow bell pepper strips, feta cheese, and salt and pepper. You can use a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but you can get by without it, as the feta provides a lot of flavor and moisture. Toss and serve with a side of hummus and pita bread.

For a spicy Thai salad, mix thinly sliced Thai chilies, chopped shallots, spring onions, cucumber strips, fresh cilantro and torn basil leaves with a bowl of sliced Chinese or romaine lettuce. Add grilled sirloin steak strips, lime juice and fish sauce and toss. Serve with extra lime on the side.