Never underestimate the simplicity of a homemade salad!! It’s a great way to pack in healthy nutrients and to consume more meatless meals!
There are so many kinds of salads to create; some that take as little as 5 minutes, and others that you can make in large batches and use for quick lunches or dinners for the next 3-5 days. Mind your food safety manors. Pack your salad in a glass container and bring it on the go! Pre-made salads make great options for busy days, and pre-cut vegetables, pre-cooked beans, and pre-made dressings can be tossed together swiftly.
If you know it’s going to be a busy week, preparing your food ahead of time can help make eating healthy simple. A few tricks:
- Prewash and cut veggies when you purchase them.
- Precook a batch of dry beans. Soaking beans overnight or for a few hours prior to cooking can help reduce the cook time and also enhance your bodies ability to absorb more nutrients from the beans.
- It usually costs a bit more, but you can use pre-cut vegetables. Canned beans are also an easy de-fault (be sure to by low sodium and rinse before using).
Be mindful of what you add to the salad and portion sizes. The amount of nutrients you need to add to your salad varies by the other things you are eating throughout the day and your own personal energy needs. Listen to your body, your schedule, and be mindful of your portions.
Ideas for making tasty individual salads, pick a couple of these ideas and toss them together. *As a caveat you don’t need to add ALL my suggestions in one meal!!
1.Mix up your greens! Massaged kale, spinach, collards, arugula, mustard greens, swiss chard, turnip greens…..add sprouts or microgreens…..and Go crazy!
2. Use lots of raw veggies or even lightly roasted veggies. Sometimes I use leftover grilled or roasted veggies from a dinner the previous night to make a salad the next day.
3. Beans, seeds, nuts, or nutritional yeast make great meatless protein options. So many kinds of beans/legumes to try: black beans, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, kidney beans, or edamame. Sprinkle on hemp seeds, chia seeds, pine nuts, cashews, or almonds. Nutritional yeast is superb– adds a cheesy tasty to your food, as well as protein, vitamins & minerals. Tempeh, tofu, or seitan are also great additions for those being a little more adventurous!
4. Toss in fruit! Berries, oranges, apples, pineapple, mango… They all tasty great in salads!
5. Try mixing in a 1/2 cup of whole grains (like quinoa, wheat berries, bulgur) or lightly sauteed sweet potato cubes.
6. Top it off with a sauce! Commercial salad dressings are usually laden in sugar and sodium. Making your own can be simple, tasty, and way healthier! Check out my salad dressing blog for more suggestions.Keep it as simple as vinegar and/or oil like it’s served in the Mediterranean (I ate it like this a lot when I traveled in Spain), a salsa for a Mexican kick, or even just a scoop of hummus (that’s how my dad does it). Make a homemade sauce with blended nuts or seeds: cashews make a great blue cheese, and ranch replacement. Lemon Tahini (sesame seed paste) , Thai peanut sauce , curried -almond , avocado dressing would also taste great!
For large batches of salad, try a veggie slaw!
Shredding your veggies can bring a whole new meaning to salad! These veggie slaws typically last a few days and are simple to make if you have a food processor. I shred carrots, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and parsnips in my food processor. I add chopped peppers, tomatoes, green leafy veggies, fresh herbs (like basil or cilantro) and usually will dress them with a plant-based protein (or two) and a homemade sauce. These make for great grab and go meals or even snacks when I need a veg-attack.
In good health,