Many times when we hear of “dieting” or “eating healthy”, it is assumed that we need to eat baked chicken breast and plain salads everyday. No flavor. No fat. No dressing. No yummy-ness.
I assure you, as many recent individuals have before me, that this is not the case. Eating healthy does not have to be a chore and it can still bring you a lot of joy. I LOVE food. Honestly, I feel like I spent a good chunk of the time I am not actively eating considering what I should eat for me next meal….
It’s a common human problem. We’ve all done it.
However, after choosing a mostly preservative-free, low-sugar, made-from-scratch diet the past few years, I crave salads. I crave greens and vegetables. I crave clean foods. I have several other posts on this topic alone, but it remains true. Once in a great while I really want some ice cream or pizza, but 90% of the time, my cravings are for vegetables.
So, when I went to the grocery store this week, I made up my mind that this is a week for some scrumptious salad-making. Salads for lunch tend to be a staple at my household. They are quick, easy and super-nutritious for you. Plus, they can be incredibly versatile and are totally customizable, as long as you stick to fresh ingredients and avoid those shelf-stable dressings that are full of additives, preservatives and my favorite, SUGAR!
My preference is to use a fat and an acid to make my own dressing at home.
My second recommendation if this is not attainable for you at this time, is to purchase your dressings from the cooler section at the grocery store. These dressings often have less preservatives and sugar in them. Best case, you buy the one made with Greek yogurt.
What to Buy: For 2 Adults
Buy the vegetables you will actually eat, and maybe add in one or two that you are trying to add to your diet. Be colorful in your choices to get a wide variety of vitamins from your meal. What you choose does not need to be what I chose. However, I do recommend avoiding corn and white potatoes as primary vegetable sources. The nutrients just simply are not super dense in these two options.
- 2 extra large containers of lettuce (1 spring mix and 1 spinach)
- At the very least, I recommend avoiding iceberg lettuce as it contains minimal nutritional value. If you want to add a bit to each of your salads for some crunch, that is totally fine, just ensure you are getting some dark green lettuce as well. It is the kale, spinach, chard, spring mix, etc. that is full of the calcium, iron, and vitamins A, K, B, C & E.
- 1 Cucumber
- 3 Tomatoes
- 2 lb bag Carrots
- 3 Bell Peppers
- 2 Sweet Potatoes
- 1 Bunch Beets
- 3 Avocados
- 4 Lemons
- These are good to buy in bulk if you use them regularly. I usually have them in my water in the morning and use them for salad dressing. They are a nice addition to many dishes.
- Again, this is something I usually have in the refrigerator at all times. It is a great source of those healthy probiotics for your gut and mental health.
- Protein Source
- We often rotate among chicken, turkey and seafood depending on how we are feeling that week. This week, we bought ground turkey and I will simply saute it up with some seasonings, prepping it for salads.
What to Do:
- Prep all the vegetables so they are ready for the week, as we did in my previous post.
- Chop anything you will eat raw. For me, this was tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and carrots.
- Chop and cook anything you want cooked. I did the same thing as my last food prep, baking sweet potatoes and beets. These will be a great source of carbohydrates to put on your salad, giving you energy and keeping you fuller longer.
- Cook your protein source and have fun with spices. You can make your ground turkey like taco meat, garlicky, lemon-pepper, etc. The limits are endless. Get creative.
Make Your Salad:
- I quite literally fill my plate with greens. Probably around 3 Cups worth for each salad. This is why you need so much greens for just 2 people.
- Chop ¼-½ and avocado and place it on the greens.
- Squeeze lemon on to the greens as well. I do about 1 tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon.
- Massage the avocado and lemon into the greens; this is your dressing.
- Top with raw and cooked vegetables, 1-2 T. kimchi and cooked protein.
- ¼ C. chopped walnuts or pecans
- ¼ C. cooked quinoa
- ¼ C. cooked beans (black, chickpea, red or pinto)
- ¼ C. fruit (I really enjoy fresh blueberries on a salad)
You can easily prep salads for every day of the week in their own containers. But, do not put the lemon or avocado on until at least the morning you are consuming that salad to preserve the integrity of the greens.