Holiday Eating Weighing You Down? 12 Salads to Boost Your Metabolism and Your Mood

Spinach salad with belgian endive and caramelized walnuts

Many of us would like to lose weight or at least maintain our weight, which can be particularly challenging during the holidays. Thanksgiving dinner is one thing, but then friends start bringing by the requisite homemade holiday fare – banana bread, gingerbread cookies, and peanut brittle to name a few. It’s not surprising that many of us start feeling weighted down, low in energy and spirits from all those buttery and sugary (mind you, delicious) snacks. (I’m partial to those little miniature pecan pies- which are deliciously dangerous.)

Let’s face it – we need to counter-balance all this rich wonderfulness. And what better way to boost your metabolism and your mood than to make it a habit to eat a salad for lunch or dinner all winter long? I’ve gathered together a list of 12 salad recipes that incorporate metabolism-boosting ingredients to help us all offset the mound of tasty treats that’s certain to grow over the coming weeks.

Grapefruit and avocado salad

1. Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Grapefruit is an excellent way to spur the metabolism. Luckily, winter ’tis the season for citrus fruits, so now’s the time to embrace these flavor bombs. Avocado is a “good fat” option, and paired with grapefruit over a bed of watercress, you’re bound to feel satisfied. (And satisfaction is key to healthy options.) Try this recipe: Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing.

Fennel and Citrus Salad

2. Fennel and Citrus Salad

I’ve made this incredibly flavorful and zesty Fennel and Citrus Salad recipe from the NY Times on numerous occasions. It’s also great for entertaining.

Spinach and apple salad

3. Spinach, Apple and Pecan Salad

As the old saying goes (and Rule #26 in Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules): “Drink the Spinach Water.” Spinach, like most dark, leafy greens, will have your metabolism humming along in no time. Plus, it’s packed with anti-oxidants and loads of other vitamins. What’s not to love. This Spinach, Apple and Pecan Salad combines the value of spinach with apple- another known booster.

Boiled egg

4. Classic Spinach Salad

The classic Spinach Salad includes boiled egg, and eggs are also considered a good way to speed up the metabolism. This classic recipe includes bacon, which if you’re worried about the extra calories, you could leave out, or simply reduce the amount you include. After all, a little bacon goes a long way.


5. Kale Caesar Salad with Anchovies

If you’re feeling adventurous, try this Kale Caesar Salad with Anchovies. I was once skeptical of kale “salad” until I had the occasion to try one at Bar Tartine in San Francisco. The key is a punchy dressing to counter the potential bitterness of the kale. This grilled kale version looks like a great healthy and hearty option.

Spinach salad

6. Baby Spinach Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Pear and Parmesan

Not to overkill on the spinach, but I couldn’t resist including this recipe for Baby Spinach Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Pear and Parmesan from Food52 as it looks like such a great variation. Pear much like apple is supposed to kick the metabolism in high gear.


7. Green Leaf Lettuce, Pomegranate, and Almond Salad

Raise your body’s metabolism with almonds’ essential fatty acids in this Green Leaf Lettuce, Pomegranate and Almond Salad from Epicurious.


8. Spinach and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Apple, Almonds and Creamy Lemon Dressing

Spinach, apples and almonds, oh my! This Spinach and Bibb Lettuce Salad recipe from Food and Wine is a triple metabolism speed racer rescue. Note: the dressing does call for a tablespoon of mayonnaise, which I’m personally not a big fan of. However, if you had some homemade aioli at home, now that would be something else.

Romaine lettuce, radish, cucumber

9. Romaine, Radish, and Cucumber Salad with Tahini Dressing

Cucumber is a hydrating, low calorie, vitamin-rich vegetable. Paired with radish, and you’ll be feeling fine in no time. This Romaine, Radish and Cucumber Salad recipe is originally from Gourmet magazine.

mache salad

Mâche Salads

I hear mâche is the new foodie green. Try any of these three mâche salads to keep your energy high. If you can’t find mâche, feel free to use watercress (of the same family) or arugula.


10. Mâche Salad with Persimmons, Pomegranate Seeds and Spiced Nuts

The Organic Authority website has this Mâche Salad with Persimmons, Pomegranate Seeds and Spiced Nuts recipe that sounds intriguing. To keep things simple, substitute toasted pecans or walnuts for the “candied spiced nuts.” Or go big! Spicy nuts are festive.

If you’re not sure what’s up with persimmons, this post might shed some light on the matter.

Beet salad

11. Mâche with Feta and Beet Salad

Beets are linked to many health benefits – lowered blood pressure and cholesterol for starters. Sounds like a good holiday-food-corrective to me! I might substitute freshly boiled or roasted beets for the pickled in this Mâche with Feta and Beet Salad recipe. Then again, if you can pick up some pickled beets from a Brooklyn market, than I’m not one to argue.

12. Mâche Salad with Creole Vinaigrette

There’s also this simple, but interesting sounding Mâche Salad with Creole Vinaigrette from Epicurious that looks worth investigating.

Images: TheDeliciousLife, dailyfood, stu_spivack, ccharmon, nick kindelsperger, jules:stonesoup, dumbonyc, pizzodisevo, Becoming Green, House of Sims, michael_reuter, mynarmeisharsha