Updated: Jan 22, 2021
And it's your lucky day because I am going to share it with you! I know, I know, I'm too nice, but it's just too good to keep to myself. And if you're looking at the picture and thinking "what the hell is on top?" just keep reading, cuz I'm gonna learn you a few things.
A few reasons I love this salad: It's filling! Yes, it is totally suitable for lunch or most of a dinner (for dinner I like to have it with a few pieces of seared tofu on the side, or on top). I was actually proud of myself when my boyfriend almost couldn't finish it with his dinner (and he eats like 3 times as much as I do)! It's versatile and the flavor combination is engaging. This salad is the perfect combination of nutritious and delicious!
Sold yet? Good, here's how you make it. Start off by choosing your lettuce component, I personally like mostly or all spinach, because spinach is durable and lasts longer than spring mix in a fridge and its highly nutritious. However, if you dislike spinach stick with spring mix, kale, or a combination. The only lettuces I don't recommend are iceberg and romain mainly because they aren't nutritionally rich, but if you're new to the whole salad thing and need to start off there, I commend you for trying and my advice is to gradually add other greens to the mix to increase the nutrition and expand your pallet.
Next is the veggies, and there are soooo many to choose from that go great on this that just a peruse through your fridge and you could probably find several things you already have that you didn't think of putting in your salad! I always start off with a couple of cloves of garlic, mostly because I'm Italian and it would be heresy not to, and to a lesser (but more important) extent because of the numerous health benefits. If cooking with garlic is new or scary to you, I challenge you to mince up one small clove and try it in this salad - you most likely wont even be able to tell with everything else that's going on. Here are all the other veggies to mix and match in this salad:
Tomatoes - Great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber! If you're making this for yourself I recommend between 1/2 to 1 medium sized tomato (I adore tomatoes so I usually put a whole one in).
Avocados - ahhhmaazing in this salad because they add a creaminess that you cant find any other way. Avocados have more potassium than bananas (thank you Google!), they are an excellent source of fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fat) which is essential for your brain and great for your skin and more. I put a whole avocado in mine which does up the fat content so I balance that out with extra veggies (carbohydrates) and protein. I encourage you to modify for the fat level that works for you.
Onions - I am a huge onion fan (much to the chagrin of my boyfriend) and I love the bite they add. I like to put red onions in as they are my favorite raw but sweet onions sautéed would probably be bomb too.
Bell Peppers - Great crunch! Add that texture! I like to slice them for long pieces that hang out of my mouth because I'm a malcontent like that.
Sweet Potatoes - Raw! Yes you hear...read that right! Cube them and mix 'em in, trust!
Microgreens - packed with nutrition and with a multitude of flavors and types you're sure to find a few that really pop for you! Radish ones are a little spicy, but in the best way!
Speaking of Radishes... add those suckers too! I like to slice them into little slivers.
Cabbage - Don't look at me like that! Yeah, I see you Denise! Just kidding, but seriously rip up a few cabbage leaves and add them in. Thank me later. I prefer the green to the red cabbage because the flavor is milder and in large slices you really taste it - Yum!
The list is really endless, these are just my favorites! And you don't have to put them all in, mix and match!
If you like to add a little sweet in with your savory, blueberries, strawberries, or dried cranberries are excellent additions (just watch the extra sugar in the cranberries).
NUTS are an absolute must in this salad! Sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and chopped pecans, cashews or pistachio nuts are go-tos!
Toppings and Extras: Here's where you really level up to salad pro!
Nutritional Yeast - Ok you fall into one of two camps on this one. Either, you know exactly what that is and you've got that "hmmm" face on thinking about whether or not you'd like that - let me save you the mental strain, you'll love it - or you have no idea what "nooch" (as we like to call it) is. Well, if you fall into the later camp, Nutritional Yeast is yellow and flakey, and I know that's not helping my case here, but it's a delicious way to add B complex vitamins to your food. You can find it at any health food store and it's becoming more common at local grocery stores as well. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Hemp Hearts - These add a slight nutty flavor to the salad, but I mostly sprinkle these on top in copious amounts because of the incredible health benefits. High in protein, these little babies help increase energy, sustain your food (I always feel like my meal lasts longer when I add these), and they contain all the essential amino acids. I have a bag of this in my pantry and I just sprinkle them on everything from oatmeal to stir-fry.
Dressing: You can really do what you like here. I personally prefer a splash of olive oil and apple cider vinegar to let the other flavors shine - and its probably the healthiest option - but if you're a dressing fan and it's the only way you can get yourself to eat salad, then go on with your bad self!
I believe that pairing great taste with nutrition is the best way to make healthy eating a habit, and that's one of the most valuable habits we can have!
Try it out one night and I think you will fall in love with salads or reignite your passion for them! Let me know what you think in the comments, and if you have any suggestions or additions I would love to hear those as well!