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Simple Salad – A Template

I love salad. We almost always have salad with our dinners, even when we have another veggie on the table. The thing I love most about salad, though, is how easy they can be.

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I don’t use recipes for salads because I tend to use whatever we have in the house, but I have noticed that I build my salads basically the same way, using the same mental “template.” Here is the basic idea:

Greens: You can use any type of green or a mix of a few different kinds. We like romaine, green leaf, red leaf, arugula and kale, just to name a few.

Something crunchy: Chopped carrots, sunflower seeds, nuts, roasted chickpeas, etc. We rarely use croutons, you just get so much more of a satisfying and yummy nutritional punch with the other crunchy options, why waste time on croutons?

Filler veggies: This is where I pull out whatever is in the fridge/cupboard and throw on top. I like to play the game of “how many different veggies can I add into this salad?” We often use tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, kidney beans, etc. Just whatever you have sitting around!

Something sweet: I love a little hit of sweet in my salad. Some of my favorites are dried fruits like raisins or cranberries, or cut up fresh apples, pears, or grapes.

Optional: Yummy cheese: Cheese just adds something a little extra special! I love feta, blue cheese or freshly grated parmesan.

For dinner salads, I add some protein: When the salad is the main dish and not just a side, I like to add a hit of protein. We usually have some kind of leftover meat in the fridge that can go on top like grilled chicken or steak, or quite often for lunch I poach an egg or two and place that on top. Leaving the yolks soft means you get a delicious salad topping and a salad dressing all in one!

Dressing: Store bought salad dressings are full of high fructose corn syrup and oils made from genetically modified soy and corn, along with a ton of other scary ingredients. You can bet any ranch you buy has MSG in it, although they will usually spell it out because somehow monosodium glutamate sounds less scary. Making your own salad dressing at home is super simple and tastes so much better! My favorite homemade dressing is a simple lemon one made by whisking together 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of half a lemon, with a little salt and fresh cracked pepper mixed in. If you are looking for something more traditional, check out this list of homemade dressings I found here.

How often do you eat salad? And what are your favorite toppings and/or dressings?

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