Balanced Living

Get Out of Your Salad Rut!

Posted by Arja on July 23 in Salads

It’s hot as stink out there and while salads are the natural choice when choosing foods that beat the heat, they can get a little boring if you’re not careful.  A healthy dinner salad doesn’t have to be limited to fresh greens, grilled meat or fish, and traditional salad fixings like cucumber and tomatoes.  It’s time to get creative and take your dinner salads to a whole new level.

When building a dinner salad that will satisfy you and not have you looking for more food an hour later, it’s important to make sure that you include protein, and healthy fat.  Protein does not have to be limited to animal products – nuts and seeds, beans, and small amounts of cheese (preferably sheep and goat) will all give you some protein.  You could even toss in a few tablespoons of cooked quinoa!

Here are a few ideas to get creativity flowing:

The Base – Your salad’s foundations

Leafy greens - Why not try combining a few?  Hit your local farmer’s market and prepare to be amazed by all the varieties of lettuce that exist along with other leafy additions – red Boston lettuce, oak leaf,  radicchio, spinach, arugula, fresh herbs, mizuna, and so many others!

Steamed cruciferous vegetables – think outside the lettuce bowl and lightly steam some broccoli and cauliflower as a base for your next salad.  Cold and crunchy, cruciferous vegetables are delicious with beans, tomatoes, or grilled meats and topped with a light vinaigrette. 

Green beans – Lightly steamed green beans are another delicious base.  Toss with cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, and top with some slivered almonds and a balsamic vinaigrette.  Would also be great with some leftover grilled chicken!

Cold, cooked grains – cooked brown rice or quinoa make a wonderful salad base.  They soak up dressings and pair well with just about anything you can think of.

Beans – Why not make beans the base of your next salad?  Add cherry tomatoes, peppers, or grilled vegetables and add a nice light vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal!

Amazing Additions – Add a little personality!

-toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
-toasted walnuts or almonds
-feta, goat, or buffalo mozzarella
-oven roasted cherry tomatoes
-grilled vegetables like portabella mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, or Belgian endive
-roasted vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, beets, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower
-boiled egg
-any type of grilled meat or fish

Dress for Success – make your own simple salad dressings

Basic Vinaigrette – olive or flax oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little Dijon mustard
Greek – olive or flax oil, lemon, and oregano
Buttermilk Ranch – buttermilk, Greek yoghurt (to help thicken), dill, and garlic
Fresh Herb Vinaigrette – olive or flax oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, fresh herbs

Note:  The standard vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, so with that in mind, go forth and create your own taste sensations!  A little dressing goes a long way.  Try and add no more than a tablespoon and drizzle it over your salad.

Some of our favourite dinner salads include:

-grilled flank steak with mixed greens, balsamic-marinated grilled portabella mushrooms, and fresh buffalo mozzarella
-roasted fingerling potatoes with tomatoes, green beans and arugula
-maple roasted winter squash with mixed greens and goat cheese with an apple cider vinaigrette

So, the next time you’re planning salad for dinner, get creative and amaze yourself with all the fun combinations you can come up with!

arja pennanen lytle c.n.p. n.n.c.p certified nutritional practitioner

Arja is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for balanced living. She loves to help people sleep better, think better, feel sexier, and just generally feel better by putting the focus on eating foods that make you feel good. Arja uses whole foods, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and some supplements to help people feel their best and achieve their health and wellness goals.