Having a salad as a meal is a great way to get your greens, eat more seasonal fruits and vegetables, increase your nutrient intake and fiber, and to boost weight loss. And don’t forget they’re portable, quick to prepare, and free you from all the greasy pots and pans!
But salad does not have to be boring if you follow a few easy suggestions-
#1 Make your own salad mix
Like you, I often buy salad mixes, but I’ll often mix it with chopped kale or chard to get some dark green in there! Sometimes eating an all kale salad is too much, and if you mix it with other greens it’s a little lighter.
I’ll often shred cabbage or add what ever greens I have that need to get eaten quickly before they go bad to my salad mix, as a way to move through them. Even collard greens, butter lettuce and romaine can get used this way. These greens are often not sold in mixes.
#2 Texture, texture, texture
Variety of texture is one thing that I always think about when designing a salad. This trend going on now for “chopped salads” where they basically take a perfectly good salad and chop every thing into tiny pieces is not for me! I like to experience the crunch of a bell pepper, the sweet crispness of an apple, or the nutty warm tooth of a walnuts in it’s own bite.
Make sure you have plenty of crunch and interest in your salads to keep things interesting. Always think “what crunchy texture can I add?”
Good options here are bell pepper, apple, pear, sprouted legumes (chickpeas, lentils, mung beans etc…), nuts, nori, celery, or even raw crackers sprinkled on top.
#3 Add healthy fats for sustained energy and satiety
If a salad is your main meal, especially for lunch time, make sure there is a healthy fat to keep you feeling full all afternoon. My favorite additions in this category are avocado and raw nuts, or even a scoop of a raw pate, hummus or guacamole.
#4 Mix in some grains or beans for some protein.
Any salad can benefit from a few scoops of quinoa, millet, brown rice or lentils to up the protein quotient and make it feel like a meal! Try this tip-dress the grains a little before tossing them into the salad to keep them tasting great.
#5 Have go-to salad dressings
I’ve talked about making your own dressings before! Know what you like and have 2-3 favorite recipes that you know will always hit the spot.
Try this Lentil, Apple and Walnut Salad with curried vinaigrette!
For the salad:
1 cup cooked French green lentils*
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ apple, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced in half moons
2 cups arugula or mixed greens
For the Indian vinaigrette:
¼ cup olive oil
⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
½ Tablespoon maple syrup
½ Tablespoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients together in a cup or small bowl or in a blender.
To cook the French green lentils: 1 cup dry French green lentils 2½ cups water Directions Combine the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil 3 minutes, then reduce heat and cook 25-30 minutes or until tender.
Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and serve over the arugula. The dressed lentils and apples can be warmed in a sauté pan and served over the greens.