How To Build a Hearty Salad

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.

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image details:

gingham cloth napkins | similar bowl | similar faux bamboo flatware (mine is old from World Market)

How to Build a Hearty Salad

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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:

chickpeas

leftover chicken breast

a hard boiled egg

leftover steak

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:

tomatoes

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)

raw carrots

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:

avocado

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:

strawberries

dried cranberries

apple (pink lady and granny smith are my favorites)

pear

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:

olive oil

honey

dijon mustard

lemon juice

balsamic vinegar

 

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!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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