As I was putting lunch together and drooling over the new salad ingredients I was experimenting with today, it hit me that not everybody does this.
Do you actually get excited about eating and/or preparing a salad?
I do, and am pretty confident in saying I don’t think I have ever made the same one twice.
Salads have always been more than just a “diet food” for me. I make the majority of mine a filling meal and I choose to label them monster salads because of their size and slew of ingredients.
There isn’t a specific art to making salads that are crave-worthy. Generally, I use the produce and ingredients I have on hand and get creative with what I have available.
Here are a handful of my tricks to keep your plates colorful and appealing!
• Think outside of the fridge.
I start almost all of my salads with a romaine lettuce or spinach as a base, then pull whatever vegetables that make sense out of my produce drawer and start chopping. But I don’t stop there.
Today I made the same base of the salad I did yesterday, but left off the eggs and added a can of rinsed and drained Southwest beans instead.
I always stock up on cans of beans (black, navy, chili, garbanzo) and they will show up on my salads more than anywhere else.
Occasionally, I will add corn, peas, and edamame too.
Grab almonds and seeds for an extra crunch!
• Get fruity.
Some of my favorite salads include fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, and oranges.
Throw in some kind of cheese and protein and you have a well-balanced meal representing the majority of the food pyramid!
• Occasionally substitute your need for dressings.
Every once in a while, I will skip the dressing and use something else like salsa or hummus in it’s place.
Freshly squeezed citrus like limes and lemons taste great and refreshing too!
• Don’t be afraid to add healthy carbs.
Whenever I get tired of the standard “load my plate with vegetables” types of salads, I cook some kind of carb like whole wheat penne noodles or quinoa and sprinkle a generous serving on top.
Hot or cold, I love adding pastas, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash to salads when I am looking for something different.
• Get creative with protein.
When I am really hungry or want more of a filling salad, I make sure to load it with plenty of protein.
I often top my salads with deli turkey, rotisserie chicken, or crumbled veggie and black bean burgers. If you aren’t a fan of those, go for nuts, beans and hardboiled eggs!
• Say cheese!
Unless I am on some kind of strict (temporary) diet, I always add cheese to my salads. And it’s hardly ever the same kind of cheese.
I most frequently use feta because that has become a favorite, but I will also grab shredded cheddar on Southwest or taco salads, blue cheese with fruit salads, and experiment with slicing others like Parmesan, American, or Havarti.
• What are some of your favorite salad ingredients?
• What are some of your strangest salad ingredients?
My go-to ingredients (that show up on almost every one) are black and green olives, red and green peppers, some type of bean, tomatoes and cucumbers! Every now and then I add banana peppers, turkey bacon, pickles, corn, and peas. The strangest ingredient I have ever thrown on a salad is probably a quinoa burger? I really don’t know!
Have you ever put a runny egg on your salad? I love to do that, because the yolk gets allover the other good stuff! 🙂
Patty @ Reach Your Peak
I just read this comment and dont know how I never thought of this. I love runny eggs! This is genius. Probably doing this tomorrow lol
I haven’t! That’s a great idea. I’ve always been really weird about runny eggs though. It’s never been my thing. If you do like them, however, I bet it tastes great and serves as a dressing! 🙂
Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
Goat cheese, nuts and fruit are a few ways I mix it up! I will also try to buy different veggies so I feel like the salad is slightly different.
I love goat cheese! <3
Patty @ Reach Your Peak
Omg these all look so good. I’m always so lazy when it comes to my salads. I want to make these creations but end up just doing mixed greens, tomatoes and a protein. Now I’m hungry!
Sometimes I make a HUGE one and snack off of it for days 🙂
I love the idea of adding sweet potato and butternut squash! I once got a salad bag that had fresh herbs mixed in with the greens. Ever since then, I’ve loved adding leftover herbs to my salad – it adds so much flavour!
I’ve turned into a daily reader. I really enjoy your blog! I find that after working all day, it’s not the easiest to put together meals. Do you try to food prep each week? For example, cutting up all of your vegetables on the day you buy them from the grocery store?
Woo hoo, thank you so much for reading Michelle! To answer your question, I’m not huge on food prep. I don’t spend a lot of time on the weekends planning out my meals for a week, but I do try to stock the house with produce and groceries. I do, however, try to prep my produce when I get home by washing and cutting up fruits and vegetables! I tend to grab them more often if they are already ready for use!