The Pure Plate: Entree Salads

September 17th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

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.


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:

Tell me: what are some ingredients you add to entree salads to bulk them up and boost nutrition?



  1. I love this post, especially your chart! What a great approach to building a salad – I’ll definitely be using this for my lunch today :-)

    As for ingredients I like to add for an extra punch, I love roasting beets and tossing them into my salads throughout the week. I’m also a huge olive fan, and tend to have a few varieties on hand. I think sundried tomatoes pack a lot of flavor, so a handful always makes a welcome addition. I also love raw garlic, but this can be potent sometimes, so I try to avoid it if I have a meeting or something after lunch. Roasted garlic is also good, and less off-putting.

  2. Love this post, Hallie! Such neat ideas. Makes it so easy to have a great meal that’s healthy and quick. I have actually been adding beans or quinoa to my salads – and occasionally salmon.


  3. I love salads, so I go a bit crazy with my add-ons: bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, avacado, fruit juice sweetened dried cranberries, garbonzo beans, strawberries, blueberries, and dried coconut. Yum! Thanks for the other great ideas – I’ll have to try those to.

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.