We can’t stop eating this viral green chopped salad. Is it as nutritious as social media would have us believe?

From skincare  slugging  to  putting raw potato on your spots  and batch-cooking  baked oats  for breakfast, Tiktok is a never-ending source of new (and often dubious) ideas. But one viral trend that's caught our imagination is the moreish Green Goddess Salad. We're making it in bulk, bringing it in for lunch and serving it up at home  – and what's more, nutrition experts approve.

The #greengoddesssalad hashtag has amassed 30.4 million views, for what is essentially a simple bright green slaw made of finely diced cabbage and cucumber with a vegan pesto dressing.

How has a simple salad gone viral? It started when Melissa Ben-Ishay @bakedbymelissa , founder of Baked by Melissa, the New York cupcake empire, shared a video of herself making the healthy salad which she said knocked her and her girlfriends off their feet. It quickly racked up a cult following. Melissa's salad was such a hit that she even appeared on America's Today Food show to create the salad live on TV.

Green goddess dressing is not new; it's a classic American sauce that's usually made with mayonnaise, sour cream, any fresh herbs you have to hand plus anchovy, garlic, and lemon juice. (Fun fact: the dressing was originally created by a chef in San Francisco's The Palace hotel, especially for actor George Arliss who was starring in a play called The Green Goddess.) Traditionally, the sauce is used as a dip for raw vegetables as an alternative to hummus habit or as a dressing over green salads.

What's in the Green Goddess Salad?

Melissa’s version of the salad and dressing is vegan; mayonnaise is swapped for creamy cashews while nutritional yeast replaces the salty, umami, deliciousness of the anchovies.

For the base, chop up green cabbage (or iceberg lettuce) cucumber, chives plus onions or shallots. Melissa’s chopping is so fine and precise that it has an almost ASMR  quality to it - maybe that's the secret to the salad’s online success?

For Melissa's vibrant green dressing, combine basil, spinach, garlic, nuts (Melissa uses cashews and walnuts), nutritional yeast, lemon and olive oil in a blender and whiz up. Mix the salad base with the dressing and voila, you too can be eating the internet’s favourite lunch in 20 minutes.

Melissa eats her salad with tortilla chips; fans of the salad pile it onto tacos, rice cakes and crackers – or just eat it on its own.

Get the Gloss’s beauty assistant Amy Rostas and her entire family have become ‘obsessed’ with the Green Goddess Salad. “It’s so easy to make,” says Amy, who shared her snapshot below. “It’s more like a slaw than a salad but it’s got so much flavour, the dressing is really zingy which is quite addictive. It means I get loads of greens into my diet which I often struggle to do. I scoop it up with tortilla chips or have a side of salmon and it keeps me full until dinner so I don't snack in the afternoon.”

If you’re into meal prepping  then this salad is for you. “It keeps in the fridge for a few days,” says Amy, “I make a big batch and then eat it throughout the week.”

Is it too good to be true? Surely, when a salad is this easy to make and tastes this good there’s got to be a catch? Apparently not, says nutritionist Kim Pearson .

"I love to see a healthy recipe go viral. This salad is simple to make, based on whole foods and rich in nutrients. Cabbage is a good source of vitamins C and K and olive oil and nuts add some healthy fats," she says. "Nutritional yeast is a fantastic addition to vegan dishes as it has a rich savoury, almost cheesy flavour. If you're looking to turn this salad into a complete meal I'd recommend adding a source of protein. Tempeh or chickpeas could work well if you're plant-based. Otherwise, you could add in some organic king prawns or a couple of free-range boiled eggs."

Head of nutrition for Healthspan,  Rob Hobson  agreed. “Using cabbage is a good way to get a rich dose of nutrients," he says. But if you want to turbocharge it even more switch to kale. The dark leafy green could make the salad even healthier than cabbage because, “it offers a good source of minerals such as iron, magnesium and calcium,” says Hobson.

What about the dressing? Is it hiding any extra calories or unhealthy fats? Again no. “The dressing is made with olive oil which is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body as well as lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol," says Hobson. "The addition of cashew nuts is particularly good, as these are very rich in  magnesium,  which is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and as such is involved in many different bodily processes."

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Can you eat the green goddess salad if you have IBS?

“Eating cruciferous veggies such as cabbage are known to promote bloating and wind,” says Rob, “and even more so if eaten raw.” However, our superfan Amy, an IBS sufferer, says that once she removed the shallot, which can irritate her symptoms, she was good to go.

Why is the green goddess salad so moreish?

A bowlful of cabbage doesn't usually inspire cravings in the way that this salad does, so why is it so addictive? Hobson puts it down to the addition of nutritional yeast. The dried yellow flakes have an almost cheese-like taste and are high in B vitamins. “Nutritional yeast is always good to have on hand when preparing vegan dressings,” says Hobson. “It offers that rich umami flavour that makes things taste very moreish.” Try  Engevita yeast flakes £3.49.

"If you are vegan then using nutritional yeast is a good way to get B12 in the diet as it is fortified with this vitamin. B12 is notoriously tricky to get in a vegan diet which is why a supplement is often recommended.” Supplementing a vegan die t with any missing nutrients is a good way of making sure you don't fall short on any important nutrients.

How to make the viral Tiktok Green Goddess Salad and dressing (makes 8-10 portions)

Salad ingredients

1 small head of green cabbage 
3-4 baby cucumbers (or one large cucumber)
1/4 cup of chives
1 bundle of green onions or scallions (spring onions if you're in the UK)

Green Goddess salad dressing ingredients

1 cup of basil leaves 
1 cup of spinach leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 small shallot
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of nuts of your choice (Melissa used cashews and walnuts)
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar 
Any extra chives (optional)

Method

Wash and chop all of the salad ingredients with a sharp knife as small as you would like. Place in a large bowl.
Add all of the liquid salad dressing ingredients to a blender first, and then add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the same blender.
Blend until fully combined to a dressing consistency. 
Pour the dressing over salad ingredients.
Mix well and enjoy!

The Green Goddess Salad is super versatile. Rob Hobson shared a version he’s been making that’s packed full of nuts, seeds and sprouts which he says has even more nutrients per mouthful than the Tiktok Green Goddess Salad.

Rob Hobson’s sprout salad with goddess dressing

Salad ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp toasted almond flakes
6 radish, quartered
100g mixed lentil sprouts
125g ready-cooked quinoa
1 handful sultanas
1 small yellow pepper, halved, cored and finely diced
2 spring onions, sliced
1 handful of coriander, chopped

Dressing ingredients

1 tbsp light runny tahini
1/2 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp soya yoghurt

Method

Place all of the salad ingredients in a bowl and combine well.
Place the dressing ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. 
Divide the salad between two bowls and drizzle with the dressing.

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