Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kraft. I am being compensated to share my experiences with their product; all opinions are 100% my own.
I adore salads and while I eat them just about every day, I rarely make the same salad twice. There are so many options when it comes to nutritious salads! In this post, I want to show you how you, too, can be creative with salads, and how you can make a salad substantial enough to be a meal. I also want to tell you about a new favorite salad that I “discovered” this summer.
When you make a salad as a main course, you’ll generally want to start with some sort of greens. One to two cups per person is a good amount to shoot for, though of course you may use more. Depending on the season and what looks good in the garden/at the market, here are some ideas:
Red or green leaf lettuce
Mixed (mesclun) greens
Kale (remove tough stems)
Chopped herbs such as cilantro, parsley, mint and basil can also be added, as can wild greens (aka “weeds”) such as chickweed, purslane, and dandelion greens. Occasionally I use these instead of using any of the greens in the list above. (Greens should be very fresh. It’s best to rinse them in a bowl full of cool water, swishing around to remove dirt and other debris. Repeat with fresh water if necessary. Dry in a salad spinner or rolled in a kitchen towel to remove all moisture, then chop or tear and place in your salad bowl.)
Next, add 1-2 cups of any combination of the following, chopped into bite-sized pieces, or any other raw or cooked vegetable that’s not on this list that you like (roasted vegetables are terrific in salads).
Next, I add smaller amounts of one or more of the following:
Raw or toasted nuts/seeds (some of my favorites are almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews)
Chopped apples, pears, sliced stone fruit, and/or whole or sliced berries
Raisins or other dried fruit, chopped or sliced if necessary
¼ – ½ cup cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or another grain
If the salad is indeed going to be the main part of your meal, definitely add some protein* which could be:
Cooked tofu or tempeh
Chopped soft or hard boiled/poached eggs
Sliced cooked grass-fed meat, poultry, or wild fish
Cubed or crumbled cheese (some of my favorites are cheddar, feta, Fontina, and goat cheese)
*People’s protein needs do vary based on their size and activity level. I try to eat quite a lot of protein because I work out with weights and I am training for a competition right now, so I really load my salads with the high quality protein sources I mentioned above. I suggest becoming familiar with the amount of protein that you need each day: this will help you add the appropriate amount of protein to your salad.
Dress the salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing per person. I generally use olive oil and some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to dress my salads, but sometimes I prefer something different. In that case, I may venture into homemade creamy dressing land (I enjoy buttermilk and yogurt-based dressings). Or I may reach for one of the bottled dressings I keep in the refrigerator when I want to change things up in a pinch. Though I used to stay away from bottled dressings as a rule, this is something I have relaxed about lately because I enjoy some of them and they make up a very small part of my diet.
I made the grilled chickensalad you see in these photos with organic Romaine lettuce (2+ cups), 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 chopped grilled chicken breast, 4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, and 4 tablespoons chopped raw pecans. I dressed it with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing. It was so tasty!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kraft. The opinions and text are all mine.