Eating Paleo often means that you're going to pile on the veggies at every meal, so why not get creative with them? Packing tons of nutrition into a salad is always a great idea, but I'm a firm believer in the notion that we eat with our eyes first, so keeping it visually exciting is critical in my world. Bright colors, different shapes and textures, and a bit of pop here and there go a long way towards keeping your senses engaged with a drool worthy salad.
After recent excitement over my salad posts on Instagram (come follow me there!), I thought I'd let you all know my basic ideas when I go to build a salad, so here's how I build drool worthy salads!
1. Start with greens.
I typically used mixed greens, but sometimes romaine, sometimes whatever else looks good or we have on-hand.
If I'm feeling saucy, I may even finely chop some kale and mix it in there… but it needs to be massaged first to soften (and I'd always try to use some fruit to balance the bitterness of it).
2. Add more greens.
If we are well-stocked, I'll add sprouts (like broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, or pea shoots), micro-greens (like micro cilantro or micro arugula), or herbs (like cilantro or basil) to the salad. These add a great nutritional punch as well as lovely texture to the mix. Sprouts and herbs are some of the most micronutrient dense foods ounce for ounce and calorie for calorie.
3. Add colorful veggies.
These can be raw or cooked; I typically do things like carrots, cabbage, bell pepper (even tastier roasted), beets, and tomato. More great nutrients and textures.
4. Add protein.
I try to get at least 4oz of protein on a salad, often more like 5-6oz. I recommend a *minimum* of 3oz and go up from there for your needs. When it makes sense to do so, I like to warm up my protein before placing it on the salad. For me, it seems more satisfying that way and I like the contrast of the warmed protein against the cool, crunchy salad.
Satiety in your salad will be impacted largely by protein, fat, and fiber in the salad, so keeping the protein up is a good idea. When ordering out, ask how much comes on the salad as you may want to ask for double protein.
5. Add fruit (if you like).
I like a little touch of natural sweetness in my salads to balance the acidity of the dressing I'll use (I like acidic dressing!). Some fruit I use often includes: pomegranate seeds, berries, mango, pineapple, apples, and orange segments.
6. Add extra fat and texture.
This is where things like avocado and nuts or seeds come into play. I very often add avocado to a salad as I love the creamy texture it adds as well as the boost of healthy fats and fiber. You can also opt for chopped or slivered nuts or some seeds like sunflower or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
My typical dressing is some variation of the following:
1/4 cup Kasandrinos International EVOO
1/4 cup acid (vinegar or citrus juice like lemon, lime, or orange) 1/2-1tsp mustard
If I'm feeling like kicking it up or making it interesting, I'll add other seasonings like some garlic powder or maybe fresh herbs. If the salad is going to be extra bitter (kale or lots of spicy veggies), I may add a touch of honey or pomegranate molasses to the dressing to mellow it out against the veggies.
If I'm away from home or dining out, I keep it simple with my Kasandrinos EVOO, fresh lemon, salt, and pepper.
There you go! All of that goes down very quickly in my head when I go to the fridge to pull things from it for the salad. It's a matter of having ingredients on-hand, and then getting creative with them!
Check out this hashtag for tons of my salads to get inspiration, and don't forget to join me over on Instagram since I post all of this there, and only a portion of it also here on the blog or on Facebook.
Want to try the amazingly fresh, rich, and best quality olive oil that I use? Check out Kasandrinos International, a family-owned and operated business by close friends of mine, Tony and Effi Kasandrinos. Scott and I visited the town where the olives are pressed last summer with Tony as our tour guide, and the oil that is produced there is nothing short of fantastic.
Save 15% on your order when you use code “balancedbites” at checkout on Kasandrinos.com.