A satisfying salad.

People tend to think salad = lettuce. The word conjures up images of rabbits and skinny, unhappy people. No one wants to eat lettuce. And no one can possibly be happy just eating lettuce. So, for now let's forget the word "salad." It's just too negative. "Bowl of stuff" is a more accurate description here. You think I have a problem with salad bars? It's impossible for me to come in under double digits. I go for the heavy stuff. And it adds up. But loading up your plate with lots of stuff is the key to making it satisfying. Lately I've been making my lunch at home to save a little cash. This was lunch on Friday:

It's got butternut squash, raisins, garbanzo beans, carrots, radishes, avocado and sliced almonds. This was so delicious and satisfying because it had a lot of heavy stuff and covered the taste spectrum: sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy. That's the trick. And then change it up from day to day.

Here's a DIY checklist you can follow to make your own...

*Change it up. Play. Be creative. Don't be scared. It's just a bowl of stuff.

  1. lettuce: spinach, romaine, mixed greens, etc. (the greener the better!)
  2. veggie/fruit: carrots, bell pepper, radish, broccoli, onion, snap peas, cauliflower, pear, strawberries, oranges, blueberries.... (you get the idea.)
  3. protein: chicken, shrimp, beef, salmon, garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, edamame, tofu
  4. dry ingredients: walnuts, sliced almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries
  5. leftovers: quinoa, brown rice, pasta, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, vegetables, avocado
  6. dressing: use your favorite dressing or make your own by just combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar (1:1)
  7. crackers (optional)

More tips:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with dry ingredients. Things like nuts, raisins and seeds add a lot of flavor. They're also easy to keep in stock because they stay fresh.
  • Chop your veggies in advance. Every week I say I'm going to do this, but never do. I should. Chop them up and keep them in containers in the fridge so they're ready to go.
  • Use leftovers. Whatever you had for dinner the night before could go in your bowl of stuff. Chicken. Rice. Broccoli. Roasted potatoes.
  • Vary the tastes and textures. Cover the spectrum: crunchy, smooth, salty, sweet.
  • Experiment. Don't be afraid to try something that may seem a little out of the ordinary. If you like it by itself, there's a good chance it will taste even better combined with something else.

Example 1: Butternut squash & raisin (pictured)
- spinach
- carrot
- radish
- garbanzo beans
- roasted butternut squash (leftover)
- raisins
- avocado (I used it just because I had some, take it or leave it.)
- sliced almonds
- balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Example 2: Black bean and corn
- mixed greens
- bell peppers
- black beans
- corn
- tomato
- red onion
- avocado
- chicken (optional)
- dressing of choice

Example 3: Asian spring
- spinach and mixed greens
- carrot
- radish
- snap peas
- edamame
- chicken (optional)
- mandarin orange slices
- dressing of choice