Salads are my thing. If I had the time, I would choose to eat a salad for lunch and dinner.
And no, it’s not because “Salads are diet food.” It’s not even because they are so healthy.
It’s pretty much because salads allow you to have to the perfect combination of so many taste textures and sensations. Making them emotionally satisfying.
And you can also get a lot of volume on fewer calories. Making them physically satisfying.
It drives me crazy when someone dismisses the salad as a non-satisfying meal choice.
“Oh, I’ll just have a salad.”
Salads are pretty much EPIC. No slander or discounting aloud. If you’re a salad hater, maybe you aren’t choosing the right type of salads to eat. Here are some of my favorite salad contents and the reasons why I can pretty much go for a salad any time of day.
Bagged Mixes (like Crunchy Cruciferous from Trader Joe’s or Sweet Kale from Costco).
My favorite thing to do is combine ALL of the greens I have. I like to start with a bagged mix (current fave is the one from Costco) and then pile on as many greens as I have. The trick with adding lots of greens is to use kitchen shears and chop the greens as much as you can. The smaller the better. Plus, then it won’t take you 8 hours to eat your salad.
You can go crazy here, but many times I don’t add additional veggies to my salad. I know, WHAT?! If I’m using straight up spring mix and spinach than I’ll stick to more traditional veggie toppings like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc. But if I use a bagged mix and there is a ton of variety in it already, I’ll skip this step and save myself some time.
Other Veggie/Grain toppings
Don’t be afraid to think outside the normal raw veggies. Many times with lunch I will add the veggie side from dinner the night before. Toss it on the salad, chop it up with everything else and it can add a surprising twist to the everyday salad. Ones that work include:
Marinated and sauteed veggies
Roasted Root vegetables (parsnips, carrots)
Cooked sweet potatoes
By far, fruit is my favorite on salads. Usual choices include:
Think seasonal. Peaches and nectarines are great in the summer, oranges and apples in the fall and winter, and pomegranates are perfect right now.
I often will add just a little bit of dried fruit for concentrated sweetness. Easy on it though – you don’t need much to add flavor Try:
In Pittsburgh (the town where my family lives and I partially grew up – they make a salad with iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken, hardboiled egg, french fries and then melt shredded cheddar cheese on top of it). In college I was a big fan. Now? I realize it is NOT a salad. Everyone eats the toppings and leaves the iceberg behind. These days, my cheese preference has grown up. I choose cheese with a stronger flavor and use less. Choose:
Nuts and/or Seeds
Nuts are a great addition to any salad. The key is to use a smaller serving and toast them first. Toasted nuts are a game changer because it intensifies the flavor. Choose:
almonds (especially sliced)
We have been making the same balsamic salad dressing and using it exclusively for the past 14 years. Chris has been eating it longer than that since it’s his mom’s recipe. It’s delicious and we haven’t tired of it yet. But when I venture away from it, I keep it super simple: Squeeze of fresh lemon or orange, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt. In place of fresh fruit, I will also drizzle flavored vinegars (like fig or grapefruit), with olive oil and salt. The key is to let the salad speak for itself and don’t drench it in dressing.
Now I know several of these mentions are high calorie/high fat choices. The key is to eat so you are satisfied with your meal. Sprinkling some of these on top of your salad won’t break your calorie count for the day, especially if they leave you full and satisfied for hours.
One thing I didn’t mention was protein. Choose a protein you like. The two I turn to the most often because I always have them on hand are packaged salmon and black beans. Simple, convenient and tons of great nutrition. But the choices are endless: hardboiled eggs, chopped veggie burger, grilled chicken, beef, pork or turkey, or canned tuna. Chris likes sardines, but I can’t in good conscience recommend those… 😉
There you have it: the EPIC Salad Guide. Make one today!
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