In the past few months I’ve been participating in a couple of DietBets for some extra motivation to help me stay on track when it comes to eating healthier. One of the biggest changes I’ve been making is to include more vegetables by having a salad for lunch instead of something heavier.

Problem is, I’ve never been a salad eater. Salads just aren’t usually my thing. 

Salads can be so boring however, I DO like salad if it’s got all the right stuff – something sweet, something salty, some protein and an awesome dressing. I’ve discovered that if I make sure I have all the right components, I eat more salad and actually enjoy it. Whoa.

For me, it all comes down to the following things so I’m linking up with Peas and Crayons for #WIAW with my sort-of formula for how to make a great salad every time…

1. Start with the greens…

I’m actually not too picky about the greens and usually buy everything from the boxed, already prepared mixes to the regular old heads of lettuce that I can clean and mix myself. I like to store those in a big container in the fridge, already torn up.

Washed, torn and ready to eat!

Washed, torn and ready to eat!

I’m even experimenting with growing my own lettuce but it’s going to be awhile before it’s ready…

My first lettuce harvest is a little ways off...

My first lettuce harvest is a little ways off…

My favourites greens to use are:

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Spinach

2. Add some veggies…

I always like to add some extra veggies to every salad because plain lettuce is pretty boring. I usually choose one or two from my list of favourites:

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Snap peas
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Tomato
My son started these peas from seeds but it’ll be awhile before they’re ready for a salad too!

My son started these peas from seeds but it’ll be awhile before they’re ready for a salad too!

3. Add something salty…

For me, a good salad needs to have a little something salty. I always include both cheese (about 1 tbsp) and a sprinkle nuts but I know those don’t work for everyone. Here are some favourites to try:

  • Feta or goat cheese
  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • Blue cheese (not my favourite)
  • Pecans or walnuts
  • Almonds whole or slivered
  • Pine nuts
My cheese stash in the fridge - these big ones from Costco make things really easy...

My cheese stash in the fridge – these big ones from Costco make things really easy…

4. Add something sweet…

I also like to have something sweet in every salad because I love the taste of sweet and savoury together. Fruit seems to be the easiest so I try to include a small amount of the following:

  • Strawberries
  • Oranges or mandarins
  • Raisins or currants
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried cherries
  • Grapes

5. Add something special…

Historically salad has always seemed so boring which I think is why I like to jazz mine up with all kinds of things. Having the fruit, nuts and cheese makes it more filling and delicious but sometimes I also like to add something special:

  • Kalamata olives
  • Pickled mushrooms
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted edamame beans

6. Add protein if it’s a meal…

If I’m eating my salad creation as a meal, I like to add some protein. The cheese and nuts help make it more filling but since I only use small amounts of each, some protein makes the whole thing into a meal…

  • Grilled or roasted chicken
  • Salmon or white fish
  • Prawns or scallops
  • Proscuitto
  • Even some quinoa helps

7. Lastly, the perfect dressing…

No matter what components you use to build your salad, the whole thing needs a wicked dressing. I always keep a bottle in the fridge for emergencies but make my own whenever I can. It’s really quite easy as long as you have the right stuff on hand and follow the formula:

Perfect Salad Dressing = 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar

All you have to do is pick your oil and your vinegar and then jazz it up with whatever spices and extras you like! I always keep the following on hand…

  • Oils: olive, canola, avocado, grapeseed, sesame
  • Vinegars: white and dark balsamic, red wine, rice wine, , apple cider lemon juice and plain white
  • Extras: honey, grainy mustard, orange juice, kalamata olive juice
  • Spices: salt & pepper, mixed seasoning, garlic, italian seasoning, Epicure spice mixes
  • Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, mint, green onions or chives
A selection of my favourite dressing ingredients...

A selection of my favourite dressing ingredients…

So that’s my little formula for building a yummy salad that I actually enjoy eating. The main thing to be careful of is not adding TOO much stuff because a healthy salad can quickly add up in calories and fat if you add too much of the yummy stuff.

Give me a big salad with a small amount of cheese, meat, fruit and a sprinkle of nuts to make it tasty and I’m far more likely to choose that over something like a grilled cheese sandwich any day!

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  1. Jillian Walker    

    Ah, this is my kinda post! Love salads, love this!

    A few of my salad tips:
    – add chickpeas or black beans in lieu of meat > change it up sometimes, plus they are so good, especially if you roast them
    – make a batch of quinoa on Sunday so that you have it on hand to add in a salad throughout the week
    – avocado > watch how much you consume, but a total must!
    – sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or flax seeds add texture to a salad!
    – add hemp hearts! the best!

    My go to everyday salad >>> kale, arugula, roasted chickpeas (coconut oil, chili peppers, S&P), red peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts with a vegan caesar dressing (garlic, lemon juice, apple vider vinegar, water, dijon, sea salt, nutritional yeast). So freaking good.

    A few of my fave dressings:

    3 cheers for greens!

    1. slowfastnik    

      Thanks for this Jillian! I’m learning to love me some salad and all this time it really just came down to making sure it wasn’t too boring. I’m not a huge avocado fan (it’s the texture) but i’ll definitely think about adding some of the other things like the seeds etc. I use hemp hearts in my smoothie every morning but never thought about throwing those bad boys on a salad!

  2. Sarah W    

    Everything from the night before is fair game for my salad the next day. LOVE cold potatos/roasted carrots, beans, peas, etc/meat on my leafy greens to give it a satisfying feeling. Doesn’t need to be a ton to make it feel like a HUGE meal!

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