Anatomy of a perfect entree salad

Whenever my daughter plays restaurant, she always offers me a salad. Clearly that’s my go-to meal; I almost always order salad out and I often serve my meal at home on a bed of greens. But those salads are far from boring and seldom resemble rabbit food. Follow these tips to have a super nutritious AND satisfying salad that feels like a real meal.

Start with a big bed of greens. I’m a fan of variety above all else, so rotating raw spinach, romaine, herb mixes and baby kale promotes nutrient diversity while alleviating boredom.  Before choosing your greens, think about the other toppings. Will you want a crispy base or will you add crunch another way? What type of dressing will go best with your greens? Have your last 3 salads had a base of cabbage? Maybe try something different

Add more veggies, and play with the cooking method. Salad is more than lettuce and raw veggies. And remember that you boost your nutrients by having color variety. Try adding shredded beets and roasted cauliflower OR sun dried tomatoes and raw carrots OR fresh pea shoots and roasted red peppers OR steamed broccoli and yellow bell pepper (ETC). I love a salad as a way to use up leftover veggies, but don’t really think that your salad should be the dumping ground of everything in your crisper. Add 2-4 more veggies and keep it at that. You want to enjoy each flavor and texture.

Add some starch or sweetness. I’m not a fan of fruit in salads, but my husband loves a tart green apple chopped in there. Or you can toss on some lentils/beans, OR leftover cooked grains. Or even some roasted sweet potatoes. The starch is essential for keeping your salad satisfying and well rounded. If you don’t like starch on your salad, you might want a little dinner roll on the side. But don’t do both. And keep in mind that dried fruit is a sugar bomb; stick to a little bit of fresh fruit if you want some sweetness.

Add some protein. This is essential! Flaked salmon, leftover chicken, a couple hard boiled eggs, crumbled tempeh, etc. Try not to overload your salad with protein, but 3-4 ounces of protein will really help this salad stick as a satisfying meal. Keep in mind that beans are classified as starch, not protein.

Add some fat. YES. This is what makes the salad delicious and hearty. Avocado, cheese, seeds, nuts and oil are your friends here. My favorite salad is a traditional Cobb: bacon, avocado AND cheese are really just so decadent together. But I also love a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and walnuts and a dash of cold pressed olive oil. Fat is an essential nutrient and many vitamins are not absorbable without it. Skip the fat free dressing (another sugar bomb!) and enjoy some real wholesome goodness.


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