Fit Foods: The healthy salad recipe I spent a decade searching for

FullSizeRender(8) Has anyone ever served you food that you can’t identify — I mean, you know what basic food group it falls into (like vegetable or meat) but you don’t know what it is, specifically? And even so, it’s one of your new favorite things?

I can see the picky eaters shaking their heads no.

Ok, well, anyway, it’s happened to me a few times. Most notably when I lived in Germany and I was served the most delicious salad I’d ever eaten — it was kind of like coleslaw, but not really. There was no cabbage, no carrot, and in fact, I had no idea what kind of vegetable it contained. It was savory yet a little sweet, crisp, nutty, and for a salad, it was substantial.

Even though I’m a fitness pro, I’m not a salad kind of gal. And I’m especially not a fan of coleslaw, so the fact this salad captured my attention was kind of unusual. It was light, refreshing and oh-so-good.

Every time we went out to eat I hoped this salad would come as a side dish. When it was, I quizzed the waiters about the recipe. They told me it was “kelery.” Which I assumed meant “celery.” Which it wasn’t. I knew that much, although there was a kind of celery-like quality to the veggie. And it had a really great yogurt-y dressing with dill and something else that I couldn’t identify.

Cut forward several years and I was back in Maine, speaking with someone about the unicorn of a salad I probably would never encounter again.

But guess what? This person knew exactly what it was, and they got me started down the road to finding this healthy salad recipe.

The salad was made from celeriac, or celery root, one of the ugliest root vegetables you’ll ever see. But it’s delish. Even though it’s a cold-weather vegetable, I associate it with late summer, which is when I generally got to enjoy my mystery salad.

Bonus: celeriac is low in calories, high in fiber, packed with antioxidants and vitamin K. It’s common in Europe but is overlooked on this side of the Atlantic. As we’re heading into the season where it (might) be more prevalent on produce shelves, give it a try!

And how fancy is this name?

Celeriac Remoulade (aka Celery Root Salad)

1 celery root, about 2 lbs
1 lemon (juice only)
2 tbsp. good-quality (or homemade) olive oil mayo
2 tbsp. Greek yogurt (low-fat)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. dill (or 1 tsp. dried), to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Step 1.

This is a trimmed celery root, with its peel still on. This is how I found it in the produce section, its waxy outer coating covered in wrap. It’s not pretty.

Celery root

Celeriac (celery root)

You’ll want to peel the celery root like a pineapple. It was easier to remove the outer coating than I thought it would be, but as the edges are not even, take care not to cut yourself.

Peeled celeriac

Peeled celeriac

Step 2

Quarter the celeriac and then you can either coarsely grate or julienne it. I used a mandolin slicer and then chopped it a little finer afterward. Then I tossed the grated celeriac with the juice of one lemon.

Grated celeriac (celery root) with lemons

Grated celeriac (celery root) with lemons

Step 3

In a small bowl, start by mixing together a little of the mayo, yogurt and Dijon mustard, taste-testing as you go, and adding more till you get a nice creamy/tangy consistency (you might end up using more of some ingredients than I did!). I tend not to like mayonnaise-y dressings so I added the yogurt to this recipe to cut back a bit on the calories/fat and make it taste more like the recipe I enjoyed in Germany. (I’m guessing that as with potato salad, there are as many dressing variations as there are cooks.)

Once you have the combo down to suit your palate, add the dill (dried is OK if you don’t have fresh), salt and pepper.

Step 4

Toss the grated celeriac/lemon with the dressing. This keeps in the fridge for a couple days and is a great low-cal side dish that’s fresh and unexpected.

This recipe makes four servings. Nutrition info, per serving: 81 calories, 8 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 2 grams protein.

Have you ever hunted down a recipe for something you enjoyed while traveling? What was it? I’d love to know!

Did you like this? Let me know by “liking” or sharing it using the buttons on the screen. Thanks! 🙂

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Bangor-based personal trainer, fitness coach, studio owner, and writer/editor. She is the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at