Create-Your-Own Salad

This idea came to me because I think salads can appear to be boring at times.  Salad can be boring for me if I get stuck in a rut and continue to make the same salad over and over.  So this post is for you and for me, to remind us of all of the options out there.  This recipe is easier than it looks because I am giving you lots of options.  You just pick what you like and run with it!  I have provided lots of options, but use your imagination and create your own beautiful bowl of goodness. Don't forget to make enough to last for several meals!  I like to make enough for 2 dinners and several lunch salads.   In order to make your salad a meal it has to have things you like on it and it has to have a huge bed of greens.  You should see my salads, they fall off of a dinner plate, so I have to use a bowl.  A note on fruit.  Fruit is best eaten alone, on an empty stomach or with greens.  If I include them in a salad, I use very little fruit or I will just do greens and fruit.  Fruit does not digest well with protein and fat.  I will do a food combining post that will explain the details soon! Now let's get to the SALAD!

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Ingredients (all are options):

Salad Base: Chopped romaine, spring mix, chopped kale, arugula, baby lettuce mix, butter head lettuce, red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, radicchio

Raw Veggie Toppings: shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage, shredded beets, red onion, green onion, red or white onion, shallots, tomatoes, black olives, green olives, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, sprouts, thinly sliced fennel, mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, radish, sweet corn, avocado

Herbs: chopped parsley, cilantro, dill

Cooked Veggie Toppings: steamed beets, roasted veggies (butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet potato, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, onion), baked french fries made with sweet potatoes or white potatoes)

Other condiments/toppings: raw sauerkraut, beet kraut, pickled red onions, fresh salsa, dried cranberries, raisins

Protein: black beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, seeds (pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds), nuts (almond, walnuts, pecans, pistachios), your favorite baked/grilled protein

Dressing Options:

  • Dijon Balsamic Dressing, 1/4 C Dijon mustard, 1/4 C olive oil, 1/2 C balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder.  Whisk ingredients together or add to a jar and shake thoroughly.
  • Thai Almond Butter Dressing, 3/4 C almond butter, 1/4 C tamari, 1/4 C rice vinegar, 2 T water, 2 T honey, 1 T sesame oil, 1 lime juices, 1 tsp ground finer, 2 cloves garlic minced, red pepper flakes to taste.  Add to mini food processor and blend till unwell combined.  
  • 3-2-1 Dressing, 3T balsamic vinegar, 2 T Dijon mustard, 1 T maple syrup. Whisk until well combined.  Can add any spices.  Makes one serving.  Use the same ratio to make additional servings.
  • Zesty Lemon Orange Tahini Dressing, zest and juice of one lemon and 1 orange, 1/3 C tahini, 2 T raw apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp grated ginger (can omit), 1 clove garlic minced, 2 T raw honey, 2-4 T water as needed to thin.  Sea salt to taste. Add to mini food processor to combine thoroughly. (dressing adapted from www.mamaeatsplants.com)
  • Turmeric Tahini dressing (this dressing is thick, you spoon it on), 2/3 C extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 C tahini, 1/4 C honey, 1 T turmeric, 2 T raw apple cider vinegar, 1 T water, 1/2 lemon (juiced), 1 clove garlic minced, 1/4 tsp sea salt. Add to mini food processor and blend until well combined.   
  • Caesar dressing (this recipe is credited to www.mamaeatsplant.com) 1/3 C tahini, 2 T capers chopped, zest and juice of 1-2 lemons (add one lemon then adjust to your taste) 1/2 C water, 3 garlic cloves crushed, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt to taste.  Whisk together thoroughly.  
  • Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette, 1/4 C balsamic vinegar, 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil, 1 T raw honey, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove minced, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Add ingredients to a jar and shake.
  • Honey Dijon Apple Cider Vinaigrette, 1/4 C raw apple cider vinegar, 1/2 C olive oil, 2 T water, 1/4 C raw honey, 1 T dijon mustard,  2 cloves garlic minced, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Add ingredients to a jar and shake.

Method:

A side note before we begin to put together our salads.  Make lots of extras!  I like to make a big salad for dinner, and then I also prep a salad for lunch the next day in my big salad to-go container and I also prep a large bowl that makes approximately 3-4 more salads.  So if you want to make your week easier, try to do the same.  At least make one extra salad for lunch the next day.  If you are making all the effort, you might as well chop up extra!

1. Select a base for your salad from the "salad base" options.  Some options are do a combination of spring mix and chopped kale, or romaine with some arugula. If your lettuce hasn't been washed, make sure you wash and dry your lettuce.

2. Select at least 3 raw veggie toppings. Wash and chop/shred/prep your veggies how you like them.  You can store extras in separate containers for use later or put directly on the extra salad you are making.

3. Select an herb to add to your salad.  Chop the herbs to your liking.

4. The cooked veggie toppings and condiments are optional.  I like to roast a huge pan of veggies on the weekend. Chop your veggies into bite size, approximately 1" pieces.  In a large bowl add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or melted coconut oil.  Add any spices you like.  My go to is sea salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, basil, and garlic powder.  Stir the spices and oil.  Then add the chopped veggies to the bowl and stir thoroughly. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper, add veggies to pan, and roast at 400 degrees for approximately 25 mins or until golden and tender.  Please note that more tender veggies like asparagus should be added in the last 10 minutes of baking.  I use a similar method to make baked french fries.  Cut the potatoes so that they are approximately 1/2 cm thick.  Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray avocado oil on them (I reused a small spray bottle and put some avocado oil in it).  You don't need much, maybe 6 sprays of oil.  Then sprinkle on your spices.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  

5. You can add beans from the can, make them from scratch and slow cook them with spices, you can roast them.  If you would like to make some crispy chickpeas, drain the liquid from a can of chickpeas, dry them a little with a paper towel, add them to a baking sheet and add about a teaspoon of avocado or coconut oil and whatever spices you like.  bake on 375 for 20 mins.  You can also add them to your pan of roasted vegetables during the last 15 mins.   You can also grill or bake tofu, wild salmon, chicken etc.  Marinate or add the spices you like and grill plenty so that you have extras for leftovers. 

6. Select a dressing from above and make your dressing.

7. Build your salad!  This is the fun part!  Start with your huge bed of greens and add all of your toppings!  Finish it with your dressing and now you are ready to enjoy a delicious, satisfying salad!