Preparing salads to enjoy at home or pack for lunch on-the-go -- a task that can save you time, money, and calories. I am always thinking about how I'd like to add more at-home salads to my diet, but I find myself stumped as to what to put in the salads to make it satisfying as a meal in itself. I want to make sure that if I'm going to the trouble of carefully and consciously putting together a crisp, clean salad that I won't be tempted to sabotage my efforts shortly after eating.
So what do you need for a delicious, filling entree salad? Good question. There's a simple process we can use to put our ingredient shopping list together that allows for endless combinations throughout the seasons.
Here it is:
Serving: single dinner salad portion--depending on your appetite
3 cups of greens: choose kale, spinach, swiss chard, watercress, romaine, butter lettuce, or a mix for a nutrient-dense salad base
1-2 cups of raw or roasted vegetables (your choice): beets, carrots, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, avocado, or any other colorful additions. Taste the rainbow!
Now here is where it starts to look like an entree...
1/2 cup of cooked grains, like quinoa, brown rice, or something new, like amaranth or bulgur
3-4 ounces of prepared chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon. Prefer an alternative to animal protein? Slice up a hard-boiled egg. Absolutely has to be vegan? A 1/2 cup of beans will do.
Time to dress it up!
Store-bought dressings often have a high caloric value and sodium content, along with a lengthy list of ingredients that include preservatives and other undesirables. Instead of squeezing a blob out of that plastic bottle in your refrigerator, complement the clean, fresh produce you've already taken the time to prepare by mixing up a vinaigrette in your own kitchen on the fly.
2 tablespoons of olive oil (healthy fat!)
1 tablespoon vinegar (red/white/balsamic/apple cider-whatever makes you happy)
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced shallot (or crushed/minced garlic, if that's what you've got in your fridge today--make it work!)
1/4 teaspoon pepper + 1/8 teaspoon salt
Whisk the above and drizzle over your beautiful rainbow of a salad/package in a teeny tupperware to travel alongside your salad for later consumption.
Feel free to mix it up as you go. Adding sunflower seeds or walnuts contributes crunch and essential fatty acids. Leftover shredded cheese or crumbles sprinkled on top contribute calcium and B vitamins.