Salad’s have got a bad rep, and you may even think of eating a salad as a punishment. Think about it, a salad versus a cheesy, greasy piece of pizza when you’re hungry…which one are you going to choose? I know for a fact, most people will choose that pizza. I am here on behalf of the dreaded salad, to represent it as something that can be filling, super tasty, as well as nutrient dense, and be loads better on your health and immunity – something I think we should all be taking more seriously.
Before I get into my salad-building-formula – Here is one great reason you should start eating more salads:
Many of the vegetables in a salad directly feed the probiotics (or healthy bacteria) in our gut (aka prebiotics). So by giving ourselves more of a variety of plant-based foods on a daily basis, our gut microbiome will greatly benefit, which in turn affects our mood and brain health, our immunity, our hormones, and our blood sugar levels. To have a healthy gut microbiome and in turn better immunity and overall health, aim to get about 40+ different plant-based foods* each week!
Now if that isn’t a great enough reason, I don’t know what else is!? If you use this guide, you will be getting a variety of at least 10-15 of plant-based foods* in just 1 meal!
*Plant-based foods include: all veggies, legumes, fruits, herbs, nuts, seeds.
How to build a proper salad… picture this as layering clothing in the winter…Starting with a base coat, then the main layers, and accessories. Let’s start with the most important one.
TIP 1: I’m not going to lie, it is a little time consuming to make these salads, so why not make a large batch so you have enough for tomorrow’s salad too. Future you will thank the past you who made their lunch 😉 Just wait to add the dressing until right before you eat it.
TIP 2: It will also take you forever to eat this massive salad, so make it a little easier on yourself by chopping all of your ingredients super small and using a spoon instead of a fork to eat it.
And scroll all the way to the bottom for TEN delicious salad inspo’s!
Protein – choose 1
Whether you are plant based or eat meat, you need to choose a protein. If this salad is going to be a meal and keep you satisfied for hours, you need a good portion of it to be protein. Let’s aim for about 1/4 of the salad to be protein.
- Black or Kidney beans
- Chunks of cheddar cheese, or goats cheese crumbled in
- Grilled chicken or turkey
- Pork loin
- Cooked sausage
- Ground beef
- Fish; tuna, salmon, kipper, trout
- Canned oysters
Vegetables – choose 5-10
Veggies are going to make up about 1/2 of your salad. Use a wide variety, and try to make it as colourful as possible. This will ensure you are getting a rich variety of vitamins and prebiotic fiber. And get creative here, make the salad a combination of roasted and raw veggies. This is especially good when you are incorporating leftovers into a salad.
- Chopped Kale or spinach
- Chopped cabbage
- Chopped lettuce or mixed greens
- A pre-made, bagged “slaw mix”
- Onions diced finely
- Carrots – using cheese grater
- Raw beets – using cheese grater
- Avocado – dice and add this on top
- Green beans
- Sprouts or micro greens
Roasted veggie options:
- Garlic cloves
This is a great opportunity to use leftovers from last nights dinner, just chop them finer to match the size of the rest of your ingredients.
Use some more tangy vegetables/pickled things to add in another flavour layer – Choose 1-2
Fruit – choose 1
You may be a lover or a hater of fruit in salad. If you hate it, skip to the next category, but if you are open or love it, consider trying it!
- chopped apple (my personal fave)
- Currents or Raisins
Here are a couple of my favourite dressing recipes, 1 is more tangy and 1 is a little sweeter which goes nicely with the fruit you are adding. Mix all the ingredients in a mason jar, and put the lid on and shake it up, then drizzle onto salad, if you have any extra, save it for the next salad!
TIP: If you’ve made extra salad for tomorrow, do not dress it until right before you eat it (so it doesn’t get soggy)
- 1/2 Oil (Olive oil, melted coconut oil, avocado oil)
- 1/2 Acid
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- S + P
Creamy Tahini Dressing
- 1/2 Oil (Olive or Avocado oil)
- 1/2 Acid (apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice, another vinegar of choice)
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 cloves crushed garlic (optional)
- S + P to taste
Toppings – Seeds and herbs
Adding in some extra flavour and fats with the seeds.
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh Oregano
- Fresh parsley
- Hemp seeds (for some added protein – great if you are plant based)
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Ground flax seeds (if you struggle with constipation)
- Seseme seeds
Now, here are 10 of my salads from the past for a ‘lil inspo:
I hope you feel inspired enough to make yourself a salad using this formula. If so, take a pic and let me know what you put into it, I am constantly looking for new ideas too!!