How to Make the Best Dinner Salads

How to Make the Best Dinner Salads

You can make the Best Dinner Salads by following this customizable template. I learned about making salads in my Holistic Chef Program and how to compose them with balanced nutrition. When it comes to salads, if you are stuck in a rut (making the same salad over and over) this template is a helpful tool to supercharge your creativity. The following template is an adapted version of what I learned. An important note, this template is for one dinner salad. So, it’s easy to scale up depending on how many people you are serving.

Composed Dinner Salad Master Recipe

  • Start with 2 cups of greens such as romaine, ice-berg, arugula, mixed baby greens, or a combination as the base.
  • Add a 1/2 cup of vegetables like shredded carrot, cucumber slices, pepper slices, or a combination.
  • Top with an additional 1/2 cup vegetable or fruit like shredded cabbage, sliced apples, sliced oranges, or sliced avocado.
  • Add 4 oz or more of protein such as chicken, beef, tofu, or shrimp.
  • To round out the macronutrients add 1/2 cup of carbohydrates like beans, grains, or starchy vegetable.
  • Include 1/3 cup of “something crunchy.” This is one of my favorite components and for me it makes the salad very satisfying. I love crunch! Try nuts, seeds, pita chips, tortilla chips, or traditional croutons.
  • Finally, you can add an additional 1/8 cup of ingredients like cheese, olives, or up to 1/4 cup of sprouts, micro greens, fresh herbs, or scallions.

Samples of Composed Dinner Salads

Here are some of my favorite dinner salads that I literally crave! First up, Greek salad made with Keftedes (Greek Meatballs).

Another favorite is Taco Salad. There are a million recipes for taco salad, and I don’t seem to make the same one twice. It’s usually made from leftovers.

Here is an example of a dinner salad made from leftovers. I had some leftover Pan-Seared Oven-Finished Tri-Tip along with Roasted Asparagus.

Are Salads Really Good for You

Yes! Salads are so good for us (unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eliminate them). Especially when they include a variety of ingredients. A salad composed of several vegetables and some fruit will nourish us with so many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Moreover, this will provide our bodies with the fiber it needs for a healthy gut microbiome and digestive regularity. Let’s look at each of the components of this Composed Dinner Salad Master Recipe.

What’s so Good about Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are good for us because they are nutrient-dense. Meaning they are high in nutritional value for the small amount of calories. They contain Vitamin A, Vitamin B9 (Folate), Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Calcium, and Potassium. Essentially, that means leafy greens are a brain food, skin food, gut food, and heart-health food. Along with carrots, mangos, and yams they contain carotenoids which are amazing anti-oxidants. A recent study shows that just one serving a leafy greens per day may slow cognitive decline.

Additional Salad Vegetables

Additional cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and radishes contain sulforaphane which supports liver detoxification and triggers cell death of cancer cells. Adding asparagus, avocados, onions, and tomatoes would provide even more anti-oxidants.

Proteins for Salads

Adding proteins like fish, eggs, chicken, beef, or tofu to salad—especially a dinner salad—will round out the macronutrients. Protein will give us the material we need to build, maintain, and repair all of our body’s components—muscle, skin, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, etc. Protein is made up of amino acids. Our bodies can produce some of them, but there are nine that we must get from our diet. According to the Nutrition Almanac, “In order for the body to properly synthesize protein, all the essential amino acids must be present at the same time and in the proper proportions.” If not, the the process will become very slow or stop altogether. Meat, eggs, soy, and dairy products are considered a complete protein because they contain all of the amino acids. Other foods must be combined to create a complete protein. For example, beans or lentils served along with rice, nuts, or whole wheat, together, make a complete protein. Isn’t that interesting?

The Benefits of Adding Some Fruit to Your Salad

Apples, blueberries, grapes, oranges, raspberries, and strawberries will provide a refreshing acidic bite to your salad. They are a good sources of vitamins and minerals—especially Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The fruits I have listed here even have anti-viral properties. They also contain valuable fiber for healthy bowel movements.

The Benefits of Adding Some Healthy Carbohydrates to Your Salad

Healthy carbohydrates like beans, whole grains, or a starchy vegetable will provide additional vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Depending on what you choose to add, you’ll get added energy, stable blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and digestive regularity.

Including Something Crunchy on Your Salad

I love crunchy textures and adding something crunchy to my salad makes it so satisfying to me. To be honest this might not always be the healthiest component. But, if it helps me want to eat more salads then that is a good thing! Nut’s and seeds are a healthy choice and most varieties contain anti-cancer and heart health properties.

Add a Little Something Extra to Your Salad

Add a few olives for the the polyphenols and healthy monounsaturated fat. Try adding sprouts, micro greens, or any fresh herbs you happen to have. These are typically considered superstars when it comes to nutrient density. Adding a bit of cheese adds amazing flavor as well as protein, fat, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Why Homemade Dressing is Better for You

Have you read the ingredients in your favorite store-bought dressing? Thanks to the Whole30 movement there are more clean-ingredient dressings you can buy. However, making your own can be even healthier because it’s fresh and you control what kind of oil, herbs, and spices you want. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to throw olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and an immulsifier like mustard along with some salt and pepper in a jar and shake it it up. Or, you can do what most Italians do and just drizzle your salad with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Caesar Salad Dressing (Outback Copycat) in a small white bowl with a glimps of Romaine and Parmesan cheese in the background.

Caesar Salad Dressing (Outback Copycat)

Composed Dinner Salad Master Recipe

When it comes to salads, if you are stuck in a rut, this template is a helpful tool to supercharge your creativity.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups greens (romaine, ice berg, arugula, spring mix, etc)
  • 1/2 cup vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, radishes, etc)
  • 1/2 cup vegetables or fruit (tomato, cucumber, avocado, apple, etc)
  • 4 ounces protein (fish, chicken, beef, tofu, eggs, etc)
  • 1/2 cup carbohydrate (beans, lentils, brown rice, or starchy vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup something crunchy (nuts, seeds, croutons, pita chips, etc)
  • 1/8 cup something more (optional) (cheese, olives or up to 1/4 cup of micro greens, sprouts, fresh herbs, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar (or your favorite dressing)

Instructions
 

  • Gather all the ingredients, wash, and prep.
  • Toss the greens with half the dressing and reserve the other half to serve on the side.
  • Place greens on the bottom of the serving dish and arrange all the other components on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing.


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