At the risk of sounding like Oprah having her famous “I love bread” moment, I’m going to let you all know that I love salad.
I LOVE SALAD.
Even as a picky child, I had an affinity for salad. It was always made with iceberg lettuce and drowned in ranch dressing, but that is neither here nor there.
As a plant-based eater, I know that when eating out at a restaurant I can always rely on the salad section of the menu (though, I really don’t have to). However, $9.95 for a bowl of lettuce with a tiny sprinkling of assorted veggies is NOT what I call a salad! There is nothing more annoying than leaving a restaurant still hungry.
Over the years I have honed my salad-making skills so that no matter what is in my fridge, I can make a salad that is delicious and filling. I eat large salads for lunch 3-4 days a week, so I’ve had lots of practice! Today I am sharing those secrets with you, because I’m nice like that.
- Ditch the Diminutive Dish: The average bowl in your cabinet is going to hold around 2 cups worth of food. While this may be an appropriate (first) serving for a hearty soup or rice dish, 2 cups of salad will NOT be enough to satisfy anyone as a meal. I use a family-sized bamboo serving bowl when I make salads for myself.
- Ground it with Grains: Though you may not be able to see it in the pictures, I always have a bed of rice, quinoa, barley, or whole grain pasta under the greens in my salads. Serving your salads with a base of grains will make them more appropriate as a main dish versus a side. Because I always batch cook some grains on my meal prep days, there is always at least one or two to choose from in the fridge ready to go when the salad craving strikes.
- 50 Shades of Green: Don’t be like mini Alece and only eat iceberg lettuce. There are dozens of varieties of salad greens in your grocery store and even more at your local farmer’s market! Each variety of green offers different nutrients, so switch it up often. Start with one or two that you know and love, say spinach and romaine, and each week make it your goal to try a new one. Some of my personal favorites are kale, mustard greens, baby chard, and spicy arugula.
- Top it Off: Now that you’ve chosen your grains and greens, load that salad up with ALL THE TOPPINGS. Veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, and carrots are classic, but fun additions like spiralized zucchini zoodles can really jazz up any salad. Toss on some spiced black beans or chickpeas for a protein and fiber punch or even add some sliced strawberries or nectarines for some light, fruity notes. Sprinkle on hemp hearts, sprouted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or dried fruit to really enhance the texture.
- Omit the Oil: You have a beautiful bowl of healthy goodness ready to be devoured. Don’t ruin it with artery clogging oil! Take an extra minute or two and whip up a batch of Hemp Ranch, Creamy Italian, or Maple Mustard dressing. Keep the leftovers in the fridge in a glass jar for the week so you can drizzle it on your beautiful salad in a snap!
Now you know all my simple secrets to making an awesome salad, every single time. Are you ready to up your salad game? What is your favorite salad topping? Share with us in the comments below!
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