I LOVE salads!!
If you follow me on the 'gram, I'm always posting my lunch time creations on my stories. And because I get really creative, I NEVER get tired of them. I've been eating one daily for the past 5 years! I always get told how yummy mine look, so I figured I'd share my "methodology" to making them satisfying and delicious enough to keep them a regular meal.
Typically when working with new clients, their connotations of salads are usually negative- fearful that it won't keep them full or appeal to their taste buds. I'm going to assume that's what most people think, too? So I'll quit my rambling and get into it- here's how to get started in creating the salad of your dreams! ;)
First things first, choose a leafy green that you like and aim for organic!
Nothing against iceberg lettuce, but let's choose something like a spring mix, arugula, bok choy, kale, pea shoots, any microgreen or sprouts mixture... The nutritional value that greens are packed with, like Vitamin A, D, K and Iron and Folate aren't going to be found in a sad pack of iceberg lettuce.
Next, pick 4 vegetables of different colors to give it some texture and variety! This is the KEY to why I don't get burnt out or dreadful of what's on my plate. This could be the addition of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, beets, carrots, zucchinis or other squash, maybe even berries...
Try to aim for a purple veggie to add if you want to make your dish EXTRA nourishing. Think eggplant, chopped grapes, or other richly hued veggies/fruits. The SAD (Standard American Diet) seriously lacks this type of fruit/veggie, with only 2% of the US benefitting from the polyphenols and antioxidants they contain! Research has shown that they are linked to combatting inflammation and preventing brain diseases, like Alzheimers and seizures!! If you're at all familiar with the chakra system, you'll know that the upper chakras are indigo and purple ...which is pretty interesting to see that overlap of science and spirituality!
Now, let's choose a source of protein...
You can keep it completely plant based with a grain like quinoa, legumes, or a quality mock meat. There is also the option to add fish or eggs, even chicken if meat is still in your diet. I would make the serving about a handful of whatever it is. This is where the term "plant-based" differs from vegan, being that your plate is mostly plants, featuring an animal protein, instead of making it the main attraction.
Let's not forget about carbs to keep us full and energized!
If you chose a starchy vegetable in step 2 or even a grain for your protein source, you might skip this step. I always like to double my topping as my carb so I'll find a super seedy cracker like Mary's Gone Crackers and crumble it on top to give my salad a crunch! You can really do this with any cracker you fancy. Ditch those processed croutons ;)
If you don't opt to add crackers atop of your salad, a small handful of crunchy chickpeas, 1-2 tbsp of nuts or seeds (especially pepitas for protein!) are great.
And lastly, let's add some flavor with dressing + seasonings!
I know that when I made a healthy lifestyle shift, a salad without ranch was a dreadful one haha. But my ranch dressing days are behind me; there are a variety of ways to "dress" your yummy concoction. I'll list some ways I love below:
- Annie's or Primal Foods vegan dressings
- Hummus (have you tried Majestic Garlic? it's the BEST in my opinion)
- Mashed avocado with a little lemon juice + seasonings
- EVOO + Apple Cider Vinegar
- Your favorite flavored Kraut (HelllOOo probiotics and zest!)
Be sure to add seasonings or herbs like salt, pepper, garlic, turmeric, basil, cilantro, chili powder, etc. Your dressing and seasonings are the way you create the flavor profile with your salad. So if you want an Indian or Mexican flavor for example, this is where you can get creative with your dish.
...and really, that's it! I know it seems like a lot, but most of the decision making and guess work comes during grocery shopping. Once you have all the veggies at home, it's really just assembling and prepping as you go or in advance. I prep mine as I go and it takes me 10 minutes max. Now you have the tools to veer from your sad salads to ones that you'll look forward to! Be sure to tag me in yours at @eclectic.wellness!