“Let’s get salad, because I have to get my summer body ready,” …is what I overheard at the gym today.
Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30s, but I don’t even think about a “summer body” versus a “winter body”. I eat seasonally, and in the winter I like heartier foods because they’re cozy. Since summer is quickly approaching — and in the South it’s already HAWTTT!, I’m switching out my quick & easy lunchtime soups for salads.
The fun thing about salads is that they work as a “sweep the kitchen” bowl for all kinds of things in my fridge & pantry. I never eat 2 salads with the same mix-ins in a week. I just feel out what type of vibe I’m going for: fruity & vibrant, sweet & spicy, salty & filling — and go from there.
I typically start with a spring mix base, because I like the flavors, crunchiness, and fridge heartiness. I mix my own dressing with EVOO, some type of vinegar, salt & pepper. And then I add any combo of these mix-ins:
For that necessary crunch, go no further than these roasted pumpkin seeds. While you *could* technically roast them yourself, they’re probably available in the produce section of your local grocer.
If you think chickpeas are best served in hummus form, I’m going to challenge you to try pan frying them. In fact, you should fry some and top your salad, and then add your hummus! It’s a double-whammy of plant-based protein goodness. (I’m not vegan, but I’m trying to reduce my meat eating by finding delicious & filling substitutes.)
TO PREPARE: Drain the chickpeas and pat dry; toss in olive oil with curry powder; get your pan HOT!; cook 15-20 minutes. Serve on salad or in a pita for a Mediterranean style meal.
“But I’m eating salad to avoid all carbs!”, I can hear you screaming at your phone. And that might be why you dislike salads — they’re a diet food to you. I eat salads all throughout the week, not as a diet food, but as a full-nutrition food. And you’re not going to get nutrition leaving out a macro-nutrient. So, use this tip to add in some type of carb so you’re not drained of energy come 2PM…
No-time-at-all hack? Just add any piece of bread or crackers with some hummus.
Yes, it’s TOTALLY basic, but with 30 grams of rich and flavorful and satisfying fat, you’re going to actually feel full for hours after eating that salad. No more 3 PM hunger pains! If your salad isn’t satiating your hunger, then it’s probably lacking fat. If you don’t have an avocado on hand — because they’re under ripe for a week & then suddenly overripe, ugh! — mix in a couple of tablespoons of EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil).
Trust me when I say that hand-crumbled feta is what it’s *supposed to* taste like: slightly creamy, moist, and fresh. If you eat the pre-crumbled version on a salad, I’m silently judging you…
If feta isn’t your thing, then surely this is. All you do is take out a sheet pan, line it with parchment paper, grab a handful of shredded parmesan and make small piles, and bake for 3-5 minutes at 400*F. Pop them out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes until crispy, and hand-crumble them atop your salad. Voila! Crispy, crunchy, salty, and playful.
Of course, you can just buy them. These are the ones I eat:
Did I save the best for last? I did, I did.
If you dislike salads because you’ve been using boring ole lettuce yielding bland salad, then mix it up! You can start with a base of butter lettuce, spring mix, or baby spinach, but be sure to add arugula to any of these. Arugula is your slightly spiced, peppery friend.
Look, this ain’t your momma’s salad. And it ain’t Wendy’s salad. This is satisfying, exciting, eat-your-heart-out salad that you’ll actually look forward to.
So, put away that prison sentence of “salads for summer” and find the mix-ins that you enjoy enough to keep eating salad all year round. It’s a sure-fire way of getting your healthy vegetables every day!
Notice something missing? Tell us your favorite salad mix-in in the comments.
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