Make a Kick-Ass Salad (That Won’t Bore the Shit Out of You)

Dana Gore
Dana Gore
Apr 10, 2016 · 9 min read

I personally think that salads offer a creative use of the imagination.

But here had been a time when they represented “diet food” to me.

When you think about salads, do you envision iceberg lettuce, a few tomatoes, cucumbers and some standard ranch dressing (the only kind you want but don’t dare to use because it’s a gazillion calories — even though it’s the only way you could possibly enjoy that large bowl of boring)?

Well, that’s what they represented to me.

These days though, I’m fascinated by them.

Salads. They not only do a body good, but they’re seriously f*cking awesome.

You can do so much with a salad. And now that I’ve changed my crappy eating habits and allowed myself to have an open mind when it comes to healthy food, I’ve discovered that anyone who doesn’t make salads a part of their lives is missing out in a big way.

So the question is — how can you transform those images of the standard restaurant dinner salad into something that excites you?

It all goes back to the imagination.

I’m going to share a few ideas with you on how to make salads your friend.

And after I do that, I’m going to discuss a concept you may want to contemplate for a few moments.

It has to do with the way you think. Because the truth is, nothing really changes until you experience a shift in perspective.

I first began incorporating salads into my “diet” several years ago when I worked in the beauty industry as a hairstylist.

It became important for me to bring lunch to work since it was around the time I had realized I needed to start thinking of food as a useful tool for healthy living instead of associating it with guilt.

I explained all of that in this post. Redefining what food meant to me was a life changer — and even though I hadn’t yet become a fitness professional, this whole process started the journey.

I began making salads to take to work with me. This way, I not only had a well-organized menu planned out for the day, but it saved a lot of money on take out.

Now while my salads were satisfying to me, I worked with someone who opened my eyes to just how creative and amazing salads can be.

My friend, Sandee, is a Yoga instructor. She’s one of those women who easily looks about 20 years younger than she is. But more importantly, even though she’s in phenomenal shape, she doesn’t act like someone who’s full of themselves because they look good.

In the salon industry, we would often trade services. Being that Sandee was the receptionist at the time, she offered me a salad in exchange for haircut for her son. I accepted — and I’m so glad I did.

The salad she made was fantastic! It was filled with wide variety of vegetables and grains — it was not only filling, but it was delicious. Her combinations of nutrient dense, but yummy ingredients inspired me to enjoy salads in a way I never had before.

Since then, I’ve realized that salad making can be a creative process. I’ve allowed her methods to guide me when I make them, and I think you’ll enjoy these ideas as well.

So how do you make a kick ass salad that won’t bore the shit out of you?

By following the suggestions I’m about to make.

When considering what to add to a salad, think about your base, vegetables, add-ons, and dressing.

Base:

  • romaine/ green or red leaf lettuce
  • spinach
  • mixed baby greens
  • kale

Vegetables:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • sprouts
  • radishes

Now when it comes to the veggies, you have the option to cook some of them and add them in afterward. I like to do this because I don’t enjoy all vegetables when they’re raw.

I’ll cook things like:

  • squash
  • zucchini
  • onions
  • mushrooms (sometimes I prefer them cooked)
  • kale (same)
  • asparagus
  • brussel sprouts

Add-Ons:

These are the ingredients that make this process fun.

You can add things like:

  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc)
  • seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc)
  • chickpeas
  • grains (quinoa, pasta, brown rice)
  • hard boiled eggs (ONLY certified free range from the local farmer’s market)
  • raisins/craisins
  • strawberries/blueberries/cooked apples or pears, or other fruits

I like to prepare the grains as a dish in and of itself and add it to the salad.

For example, I’ll make beans and rice with whatever spices or flavoring I’m in the mood for. I’ll make a pasta dish the same way and I’ll follow that protocol with quinoa.

I may take the veggies I prefer to cook and add them to the grains and just have the entire dish act as an add-on for the salad. That’s what Sandee did and I thought it was fantastic.

Dressing:

When to comes to salad dressing, this can make or break your efforts to use this as meal for healthy living and weight loss.

The harsh truth is — some dressings can turn your salad into a dish that’s loaded with fat, sodium and chemicals.

I’m not saying you should never use them, but if you do, just be mindful of the serving size.

However, your best bet is to make your own. Be creative with this and have fun. If you’re short of ideas, I’ll share a simple recipe I’ve come up with — and I’ll direct you to some other ideas on Pinterest.

Dana’s Homemade Honey Mustard Balsamic Dressing Recipe

This is so easy.

In a bottle that has a lid, you will add:

  • 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup organic balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (preferably local raw) honey
  • 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard

Put the lid on the bottle, shake it all up and you’re good to go.

If you have a store by you that allows you to sample different flavors of oils and vinegars, check it out and come up with some mixtures that will offer you some variety.

I visited one of these places with my husband and my Mom not too long ago and the staff came up with several concoctions for us to try out.

I chose the garlic infused olive oil and the pomegranate balsamic vinegar. The combo was delicious! I encourage you to find one of these stores by you and give them a try.

You can find some ideas by visiting this website.

If you like a creamier dressing, you can make your own using organic plain yogurt, spices and fresh herbs.

There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest as well.

My Latest Salad Recipe

I want to share one of my most recent salad recipes with you. I found it enjoyable, and so did the hubs.

When my family comes to visit, I like to prepare healthy foods. I choose a salad recipe that I think they’ll enjoy — and they always do.

This recipe includes:

  • spinach/ mixed greens or whatever is fresh at the local farmer’s market
  • red bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • kale
  • asparagus
  • hard boiled eggs

Wash and dry the spinach and other salad greens along with the raw vegetables and place into a large bowl.

  • salad greens
  • red bell peppers
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • anything else you want to add

Next, peel (if applicable), wash and cut up the other vegetables. These are to be lightly sauteed:

  • kale
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • asparagus

Add to a pan with about 1/4 cup of water, 2 tsp of organic lemon juice (or squeeze fresh lemons — just remove the pits), about 1 tbsp of organic coconut palm sugar and a little salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat until they’re lightly cooked (the kale should be somewhat wilted by this point).

For this particular recipe, I’m including what I had available. I use whatever I have around, so if you have other vegetables (like squash, zucchini, garlic, etc) that you want to add, go for it.

I also added hard boiled eggs to this salad.

But before I continue with this recipe, I need to mention something.

When it comes to buying eggs, I do NOT support the commercial egg industry. I’ve seen footage of some the most inhumane treatment I’ve witnessed from the human race.

These birds are treated horribly.

And don’t let the words “cage free” fool you either. They’re still crammed into small spaces where they barely have room to move around. And the male chicks (I’m sorry to say) are considered useless because they can’t lay eggs, so they’re discarded. I won’t get into how they’re killed, but I’ll mention that it’s done in a way you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

I purchase eggs from my local farmer’s market. In my neck of the woods, people raise birds and collect the eggs to be sold at these markets.

I’ve inquired about where they came from and I was assured that what I purchase is certified free range from local farms.

Just something to think about.

When you’re finished sauteeing the veggies, add them into your bowl of raw salad ingredients and top with the dressing of your choice.

The final product will be a well-balanced meal filled with a variety of healthy ingredients that will fill you up and leave you satisfied.

You’ll feel a sense of pride and joy about what you’ve just created — and consumed.

Guilt will no longer play a role in your eating habits.

Putting it All Together

The way you approach healthy living will determine the results you get.

If you view this as a chore you have to embark on to lose weight, you’ll hate the process.

If, however, you view this from a perspective that enables you to open your mind, try new things and expand your level of freedom when it comes to new foods, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Wellness is a mindset. Everything first happens in the mental realm, then it becomes a physical manifestation.

As you think, so shall you be. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

BE someone who feels a sense of enthusiasm toward healthy, nutritious foods and your behavior will become a natural reflection of this.

When you make a salad with a wide variety of ingredients, you’ll get different flavors, textures and of course, health benefits.

You can easily make a meal out of a salad and it’ll not only satisfy your hunger cravings, but you can make a creative art project out of each new version you come up with.

If you get your kids involved in the preparation process, they’ll want to eat it too because kids like to experience what they’re a part of. It’s the path of least resistance when it comes to exposing children to healthy eating habits.

Additionally, I would imagine it’s a wonderful way to bond with them and spend some quality time.

Have fun with salads. Use your imagination to include fresh ingredients, flavors, and textures.

Healthy living can be an enjoyable experience. Just remember to add the good stuff in. It’ll crowd out the useless stuff all on its own this way.

I’d love to hear what you thought about this. And if you have any ideas of your own, please feel free to share them in the comment’s section.

Do you associate salads with boredom? Do you think you’ll give them a try now that you see how amazing they can be?


Originally published at iammyimagination.com on April 10, 2016.

Dana Gore

Written by

Dana Gore

Creator of I AM My Imagination, author of 'A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety - What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You'. Awareness is our friend. Always seek Truth.

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