I try to eat a big hearty salad as a meal a few times a week. It’s a great way to get in a bunch of fruits and veggies, use up leftovers and honestly I think they’re delicious! The key with salads as a meal though is to make sure you use hearty, healthy ingredients that will fill you up. Here is how I typically build a salad.
How to Build a Hearty Salad
Start with Dark Greens. We never buy iceberg or romaine or any of the lighter kind of lettuce because they aren’t as nutritionally dense as darker greens are. I grew up eating spinach or spring mix in my parents’ home, and these days I typically buy Power Greens (mix of spinach, mizuna, chard and kale), baby kale, or spinach. These are my go-tos because you can eat them raw (as a salad or on a sandwich), cook them as a side (sauté with garlic, olive oil or butter, salt and pepper), add them to eggs (I normally tear up a handful and then add them to my quick-cook microwave eggs that I shared in this blog post), or throw a handful into a smoothie. By having different ways to eat them I rarely end up with greens that go to waste before I can get around to eating them. Sometimes I’ll buy arugula (I love the peppery kick it has) but I think the other greens are more versatile.
Choose a Protein. For a salad to tide you over it’s got to have some heft to it. I normally choose one of the following, depending on what I have on hand:
leftover chicken breast
a hard boiled egg
leftover shrimp or salmon
lentils (I love the precooked ones at Trader Joe’s)
leftover brown rice and quinoa mix (I buy these microwavable packets at Costco)
Add Healthy Toppings. I try to always have my favorite toppings on hand. My favorites include:
leftover sweet potatoes or roasted regular potatoes
leftover roasted veggies (we often have roasted cauliflower or zucchini on hand)
raw onion (maybe I’m weird but I LOVE the kick of raw onion)
beets (I buy the prepared ones in the refrigerated section at Costco, they’re at Trader Joe’s too)
Add Some Fat. I think it’s really important to have some fat in your salad. “Everything in moderation” is my eating mantra, so when it comes to fats I like to choose healthy ones and then also throw in some cheese too…because I love cheese. Favorite fats include:
walnuts (these add some nice crunch too)
blue cheese or feta cheese
Include Something Sweet. I love a hint of sweetness in a salad. I normally choose one or two of the following:
apple (pink lady and granny smith are my favorites)
Dress Smartly. Avoid the prepared salad dressings because they’re often loaded with a bunch of stuff you don’t even need. I think simple is better anyway! I normally just drizzle on a little extra virgin olive oil and either balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar. Sometimes I’ll whisk together a super simple (and delicious) homemade dressing that includes:
Enjoy food related posts like this? Please let me know because for some reason I don’t share food here as often as I should. Mostly because I think my food images are always lacking compared to real food bloggers…but if you like this kind of content I’d love to hear it!