Remember when a salad used to mean a chunk of iceberg lettuce and a few slices of tomato drowned in creamy dressing and Bacos bits? And yes I’ll admit that tasted pretty good!
But salads have now evolved into a flavorful art form with an endless stew of ingredients. Trendy are hearty grain salads that incorporate brown rice, quinoa, freekeh or barley that have transformed a longtime side dish into a satisfying meal.
My suggestion for building a basic meal salad is to include the following:
2+ cups Nonstarchy Vegetables: Any lettuce or leafy greens, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini or summer squash, onions, mushrooms, sprouts, Brussels sprouts
1 Protein: 3 ounces chicken or tuna, 1 ounce cheese, 1/2 cup cubed tofu, 1/2 cup any beans (black, chickpeas, edamame)
1 Starch: 1/2 cup cubed sweet potato or butternut squash, 1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup whole grains
1 Fat: 1/4 avocado, 1 tablespoon seeds (chia, flax, sunflower), 1 tablespoon chopped nuts
If your calorie needs are higher, double the protein, fat and/or starch choices. Below are three examples.
For dressing, some folks do well with a splash of oil and vinegar but if you need more check out this infographic for DIY healthful salad “enhancers.” I call them enhancers because you really shouldn’t need more than 1-2 tablespoons to slightly brighten up the fresh salad ingredients that are already delicious!
Kale Salad with Cucumbers, Green Bell Pepper, Clover Sprouts, Mashed Avocado and Baked Tofu
Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Salad with Pear, Walnuts, Chia Seeds and Maple Vinaigrette
Fiesta Bean Salad with Quinoa, Black Beans, Chickpeas, Tomato and Avocado. Click here for the recipe.