Welcome to the second week of The Pure Plate, a meal planning series geared toward getting healthy meals on the table as quickly and painlessly as possible! In case you missed it, check out the introduction to this series and learn more about what we’re covering.
This week is all about one of my favorite meal structures: the entree salad. Nothing could be better than loading up a bowl with veggies, healthy fats, and protein. I sometimes feel like I could live off of this meal structure in the summertime when the weather is warm and I’m in the mood for lighter foods. It’s also my go-to lunch year round.
So how do you build an entree-sized salad? First of all, think beyond lettuce and tomatoes, people! In order for a salad to fill up that tank, you need a whole lot more than a wedge of iceberg lettuce.
- Greens: Always start with a leafy base. This packs in nutrients and serves as the foundation upon which to build your “salad house.”
- Crunchy veggies: Top your leafy base with crunchy veggies (peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, etc.) for more nutrition, color, texture, and flavor.
- Protein: Then choose your protein, which is going to stretch that salad beyond an hour and make it fuel and satisfy you longer. Whether it’s animal protein (chicken, salmon, etc.) or plant-based (lentils, quinoa, etc.), protein is an all-too-important key to the entree salad that you just can’t leave out!
- Fun additions: Jazz up your salad with fun stuff like diced avocado, chopped pitted dates, toasted seeds, and more.
- Starch: To really bulk up your meal, add some starchy vegetables like steamed sweet potatoes to the mix. Or try cooked wild rice or quinoa. Starches often weigh me down if I eat too many of them at once, so I often leave them out of my salads, but on days when I need a little extra in my tank, roasted balsamic sweet potatoes are a real treat.
- Dressing: Get creative and try mixing up your dressings. Keep them in jars in the fridge and give them a shake before you use them. Store bought dressings are a gold mine of artificial ingredients and refined sugars, so it’s smart to make your own.
You may be thinking, “Gee. This all sounds great, Hallie, but boy do I wish I had a handy chart to reach for when I’m building my entree salad.”
Well, I have just the thing! This week’s *FREE* printable is a handy chart to building the entree salad that fits on just one page so you can print it out and keep it tacked to your refrigerator or tucked inside your purse.
Download THE PURE PLATE SALAD CHART.
And don’t miss last week’s free printable: THE PURE PLATE OVERVIEW…complete with meal planning half-sheets to simplify the planning process.
Last week I shared these Taco Salad Jars, which could easily be bulked up a bit to fit the entree salad bill. If you’re looking for other hearty salad ideas, you might try these:
- Raw Kale Salad with Apples, Carrots & Purple Cabbage from Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free (just add some protein and you’re good to go!)
- Spinach Salad with Chicken, Avocado & Goat Cheese from Recipe Girl (omit cheese for dairy-free)
- Asian Cobb Salad from Simply…Gluten-Free (make your own dressing for a soy-free option)
Tell me: what are some ingredients you add to entree salads to bulk them up and boost nutrition?