for the past couple of months, i’ve been eating a salad every single day for lunch. i pack up my shoebox sized tupperware container, load it up with bright veggies and filling protein and go on my merry way. it always takes me tons of time to eat, packs in the nutrients and leaves me feeling full for hours until it’s time for my afternoon snack.
instead of store-bought dressing, i keep olive oil and balsamic vinegar at my desk and shake a little on every day. easy, peasy!
you might think i’d get bored eating a salad every day for lunch, but they’re so versatile, it feels like an entirely different meal each time i eat it! also, instead of woofing it down, i’m able to take longer to eat and stay fuller longer, as well. try it for a week, you won’t be disappointed!
eliz’s tips for a great salad:
1. not to sound like the barefoot contessa, but start with good lettuce. my favorite kinds are romaine and butter lettuce. you might prefer arugula, spinach, spring mix, kale or iceberg. find out what works with you and go with it.
2. load it up with basic veggies - i aim for all different colors and textures in my staples. bell pepper, cucumber, celery and tomato always find their way into my lunch, but maybe carrots, sprouts, radishes, olives or onions are your cup of tea! if you think having 5-7 servings of vegetables a day seems daunting, recognize that you could easily have one serving with breakfast (think veggie omelette or green smoothie!), two servings with dinner and a big salad could easily take care of another four servings of vegetables! wham, bam.
3. don’t forget the protein! protein is what will keep you full, rather than feeling like you just ate a bowl of rabbit food. whether it’s chicken, deli meat, shrimp, salmon beans, hummus, a veggie burger, tofu or tempeh, just get that protein in the mix!
4. change it up & give your salad a theme. although i eat a salad a day, i don’t eat the SAME salad every day. that would get really old really fast. some days it’s greek, others it’s mexican. sometimes it’s mediterranean, others it’s roasted vegetables. keep yourself interested!
5. don’t be afraid of leftovers! instead of letting leftovers in your fridge go to waste, incorporate them into your salad. just the other day, i cut up a leftover turkey burger, sweet potato slices and roasted zucchini from the grill. traditional salad fixins? no. delicious? yes. the next day, i had leftover chicken, peppers and onions from fajitas - i threw that in with some avocado and i had an instant mexican fiesta!
6. don’t go overboard with the “goodies” - you could have an amazingly nutritious salad and throw it all down the drain if you load on lots of croutons, cheese, creamy dressings, etc. some of those treats, in moderation, are fine - let’s be honest, i wouldn’t DREAM of having a greek salad sans feta cheese! just be smart about it so you’re not burying all the benefits that drew you to a salad in the first place. (also, unsuspecting culprit… watch out for low fat/fat free dressings. when they take out the fat, they replace it with SUGAR and that’s not helping anyone. make your own dressing with olive oil or make sure you read in the ingredients carefully.)
7. most importantly, make it your own. maybe you hate celery - then don’t include it. maybe your favorite food is strawberries - include those! whatever you do, make it appealing to YOU or else you’ll never enjoy it.
salad combo ideas:
greek salad: romaine, bell peppers, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, grilled chicken
roasted veggie salad: romaine, roasted zucchini, squash, onion, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, kidney beans
mexican salad: romaine, sauteed onions and bell peppers, grilled shrimp, avocado, black beans, tomatoes
summery salad: butter lettuce, strawberries, peaches, goat cheese, walnuts
asian salad: shredded lettuce, orange segments, baked salmon, sesame seeds, water chesnuts
everything but the kitchen sink salad: also known as a clean-out-the-fridge salad. literally… your dinner from the night before on a big bed of lettuce!
**QUESTION: what are your must-have salad ingredients?**