How to Make Amazing Salads in 5 Easy Steps

June 26, 2013

How to make amazing salads

One of my favorite yoga teachers always says something like, “If what you’re doing hurts, remember that YOU’RE doing it. You’re hurting yourself. Why would you do that?”

Lesson: Do something that feels good.

It relates to just about any area of life, including your food. If you don’t like what you’re eating, that’s important to realize! I want you to eat food that taste good, makes you feel good and doesn’t cost a fortune.

Possible? Yes. But you have to take responsibility for yourself, for your meals. Panera and McDonald’s are not in the business of taking care of you, y’know? (Even with their so-called healthy salads made with nutrient-poor veggies like iceberg lettuce and topped with dressings full of sugar.)

Salads can be AMAZING. They can be full of nutrient-dense, nourishing ingredients. They can be absolutely delicious. And they can be really easy and fast to make. That’s why I wanted to give you some tips for making your salads absolutely kick butt – and at the end of this post there are 2 recipes for really excellent salads I’ve made recently. Ready?

Here’s how I do it.

1. Start with an interesting blend of greens

Iceberg stinks, nutritionally speaking. Romaine is ok, but kinda boring. Arugula, watercress, swiss chard, baby kale…now we’re talking. Go for some really interesting greens and maybe even some purples or reds like radicchio or red cabbage. Mix it up.

In the steak salad pictured above I used arugula and endive.

2. Add mad color

Salads aren’t just about tomatoes and cucumbers. Virtually any vegetables will work – try mixing raw and cooked veggies to create unexpected, colorful combinations. Fresh herbs are always a good idea, and I often reach into the fridge for vegetables from last night’s dinner. It’s a great way to use those leftovers and waste less food. Chopped fruit is another way to get color, flavor and a burst of nutrients.

Here are some examples of combinations:
– Blanched green beans, raw corn kernels, roasted eggplant
– Shredded raw carrots and radishes, roasted cauliflower and fennel
– Fresh peaches, avocado slices, minced jalapeños,

In my golden beet salad I combined the gold with red cabbage and green basil for beauty and flavor.


3. Load up on protein

Salads without protein belong next to your dinner – not as a substitute for dinner. If your salad is going to be a whole meal, be sure to add plenty of protein.

Here are some ideas (and combining a few of these together is a great idea):
– Sliced steak or chicken
– Ham cubes or bacon
– Cheese
– Hardboiled eggs
– Fish, shrimp, smoked salmon or canned tuna
– Protein-rich cooked grains like quinoa or buckwheat
– Beans
– Nuts and seeds

Again, it’s a huge time and money saver to use leftovers from another meal. Grab and go, no cooking required.

4. Be well-dressed

Store bought salad dressings make me angry. They are expensive and full of low-quality ingredients, usually including some form of sugar. To make your salads go WOW, I definitely recommend making your own easy dressing. It’s as easy as whisking together some olive oil and vinegar, or you can blend it up with things like this, tasting as you go:

– Fresh or dried herbs
– Lemon, lime or orange juice
– Garlic
– Ginger
– Tamari or soy sauce
– Miso
– Worcestershire sauce
– Tahini
– Hot pepper sauce
– Olives
– Walnuts, cashews, pine nuts or other “soft” nuts
– Mustard
– Raw honey


5. Add the unexpected

Last weekend I had a salad that included kimchi. It was fantastic! I love when salads include some unexpected gems.

Try adding toppings like:
– Kimchi or sauerkraut
– Pickles
– Capers
– Hummus
– Almond butter
– Coconut flakes
– Nori
– Whatever else you can dream up

Had any good salads recently?

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