I’m in a post-vacation slump; the kind you get when you just spent a few days away at the sweetest place on earth. I guess you could say I’m experiencing a supreme sugar crash after thinking that peanut butter and chocolate could be considered a food group. And that’s cool, it was vacation. But now that a) I’m back home, b) I still have the rest of the summer ahead of me, and c) some of my dresses have decided that they don’t want to zip, I’ve decided to make some better choices, starting with today’s lunch.
I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, especially in a fresh salad, but I’m not going to lie. I’m not one of those people whose eyes go straight for the salad section of most menus I encounter. Very frequently you’ll find me ordering a burger or a sandwich with a side of…dare I say it…fries. However, I do find that if I make the right salad, I can enjoy it just as much, if not more than any of the heavier or fried foods I usually choose.
Making the “right” salad, in my opinion, all comes down to variety. I found for a while that I was getting sick of eating salad, and I realized it was basically because I was dumping salad greens on a plate, adding a bit of dressing, and considering that a meal. Obviously, I was hungry about 25 minutes later and hardly getting any nutrition. My favorite thing to do now is to start with greens (of which there are so many varieties) and add anything my heart desires (chocolate and peanut butter notwithstanding).
Yesterday I had a real win/win salad, as I was able to use up a lot of leftovers while enjoying a healthy lunch. Surprisingly, this salad left me satisfied until dinner and tasted great.
- 1 plate of salad greens (whichever kind you prefer)
- 3 oz. grilled chicken, cut into bite size pieces (we had leftover chicken kebabs that I was able to use for this)
- Leftover pasta (about a handful)
- Roasted brussels sprouts
- Spanish olives
- Diced cucumbers
- Easy dressing
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup fat free or lowfat Greek yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon Lemon juice
- Sea salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Garlic powder (to taste) (optional)
Dressing instructions: Mix all wet dressing ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk. Taste and then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The dressing will definitely make more than enough for one salad, so you can save it in the refrigerator for a few days if you plan on having another salad or two that week. Just remember that the olive oil solidifies slightly when chilled so you will need to take it out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before using it a second or third time.
When making your salad, keep in mind the following three tips that have made homemade salads more palatable for me.
- Heat up any ingredients that may need it (such as chicken, pasta and any previously grilled or roasted vegetables) for about 10 seconds in the microwave to take the chill out without making them overly hot.
- Chop up the salad greens before putting the salad together. Leaving this step out can sometimes make the act of eating the salad feel like chewing a bowl of leaves. You can cut these up as small or large as you’d like. I prefer to only chop them up slightly since I like the texture of the greens without the magnitude.
- After assembling the salad, add your dressing of choice and put the whole salad in a bowl with a sealable lid. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Sometimes I do a little dance to make sure the dressing is easily distributed. When you do this, you will be able to use much less dressing and therefore not have to defeat the purpose of eating a healthy salad.
The best part about the Leftovers Salad is that you don’t have to use leftovers and don’t have to follow the recipe I’ve shared above. Be creative and have fun! Here are some additional suggestions of what to add to your salad:
- Ahi tuna
- Almonds, sliced (or sliced and toasted)
- Artichoke hearts
- Avocado chunks
- Baby spinach
- Baby corn on the cob
- Black beans
- Black olives
- Blue Cheese crumbles
- Canned tuna
- Carrots (shredded or chopped)
- Cheddar cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
- Crumbled bacon
- Dried cranberries
- Feta cheese
- Hard boiled egg (crumbled or sliced)
- Kidney beans
- Pickled beets
- Red onion
- Romaine lettuce
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Tomato wedges
I’m sure I’ve left something out and I’d love to know. What’s in your go-to salad?