how to make an epic salad

31 Aug

Thanks for all the sweet and encouraging comments on yesterday’s posts.  Every single comment on this blog truly means so much to me!

Today has been pretty uneventful really…I’ve spent the morning working away on the blog and Outbox stuff, breaking just long enough for breakfast and lunch.   I do, however, have a new “eats” page at the top to show for it – so go check it out if you get the chance!

Jon and I did go out for a run this morning, which unfortunately turned into a half run half walk.  We intended to crank out 3 quick miles, but the return of the heat and humidity plus Jon running late for work got the best of us.  I think we may start hitting up the treadmill for our short runs until this heat lets up a little bit.  I am not a big fan of the treadmill, but I’m even less of a fan of sweltering heat.

Breakfast this morning was one of my all-time favorites

Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffin with 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter and half a sliced banana

And lunch was one of my favorites from last year.  When I was a teacher, I would make my lunch before I went to bed every night.  A version of this salad was one of quickest, easiest, healthiest and most popular meals I ever took!  Popular because several of my coworkers would always ooh and ahh over it’s color and beauty.  Now that I am at home for many lunches, I don’t make it as much, seeing as how I don’t have to worry about being on-the-go…but today it was resurrected!

So, in honor of our last few weeks of summer, here is a quick little tutorial on how to create an awesome salad.  Salads don’t have to be just lettuce. I’ll be the first one to say “I don’t like salads” if we’re talkin’ lettuce and a few tomatoes thrown on top. I know some people really dig that, but for me – they’ve got to be loaded with different flavors, textures and colors to be enjoyable and to keep me going throughout the afternoon.  So, here we go.

Pick your base

  • spinach
  • spring mix
  • romaine
  • kale

*Next, chop your greens and put them in a large bowl. This salad could get big, so leave plenty of room:)  I always chop mine up because I want every bite of salad to have a bit of everything.  Plus, I try to avoid shoving giant lettuce leaves in my mouth in front of my lunch buddies (which granted, now mainly include Olive).

Choose and chop your veggies. I like my salads to be bulky.  Lettuce really ends up being a smallish part of the overall masterpiece.  But you definitely want to create volume by tossing in lots of different veggies.  I usually use anywhere between 3 and 5 of the options below.

  • squash
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms
  • artichoke hearts (a must in my opinion!)
  • onions
  • celery
  • carrots
  • bell pepper
  • broccoli
  • snow peas
  • sprouts
  • corn
  • cold peas
  • asparagus
  • beets, shredded
  • green onions
  • tomatoes

Choose your protein. Every good salad has to have protein.  I’m going to stick to vegetarian suggestions.  For beans, I usually add in about 1/3 – 1/2 of a cup.  Sometimes I’ll go with 2 different types of beans and add 1/4 cup of each.

  • beans (kidney, black, chick peas, navy etc)
  • chopped egg
  • nuts (sliced almonds, walnuts etc)
  • tempeh
  • tofu

Choose your healthy fat.

  • avocado
  • nuts/seeds
  • olive oil

Choose your dressing.  Now we all know that a bad dressing can ruin the most healthy and delicious salad.  The great thing is that with all the flavorful elements you’re adding to this salad, you don’t need much of a dressing!  Here are a few of my personal favorites – just to add a bit of moisture.

  • balsamic vinegar, straight up.  I poor on about 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and call it a day.  It adds the perfect amount of flavor, in my opinion.
  • olive oil
  • lime or lemon juice
  • salsa
  • hummus

And now for what I consider to be the best and final add ins. These are things that really add a huge punch of flavor or texture.

  • dried fruit without added sugar (cranberries are my favorite)
  • chia seeds
  • fresh fruit (apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, pears, grapes)
  • seasonings – sometimes just a sprinkle of ground red pepper or oregano can add the perfect touch

Now that all of your ingredients are in a huge bowl, it’s time to mix it up!

This is one of the most important steps because if you just add everything onto a plate, layer by layer, then you won’t get a little bit of every ingredient in most bites.  And we definitely cannot deal with that.  So mix it up really, really well!

Lastly, dump it all out either onto a plate or in a to-go container. Now off you go with a super healthy, filling and tasty lunch that will make you the envy of everyone you know! ha.

Note: obviously some of these suggested ingredients can serve for more than one category.  For instance, olive oil could serve as your healthy fat and your dressing.  Or chia seeds could serve as a fun, crunchy add on or as a source of healthy fat or protein.  You get the picture.

If you’re someone who is always in a hurry when making lunch like I was was, I suggest using some time on the weekend to pre-chop your veggies that need it (rocket science, right?).  Then reserve a small space on one shelf of your fridge for “salad fixins.”  That way, when you get ready to create your salad, everything is ready to go – you can just snatch it out of the fridge, toss in a little of this and a little of that, throw a lid on it and go!

Along with creating this salad for lunch today, I also made a new and improved batch of hummus.

Spicy Garlic Hummus


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper


  • toss everything into a food processor minus 1 tsp minced garlic and process until smooth
  • transfer hummus to a small bowl and add remaining tsp of garlic to the very center
  • garnish with a sprinkle of ground red pepper

Well, I’m off to have a (hopefully) productive afternoon!  See you all later;)

What is your favorite salad topping?


21 Responses to “how to make an epic salad”

  1. Heather (Where's the Beach) August 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I hear you on the darn heat and humidity coming back in. We got in a run at lunch, but it was a sweaty, nasty run I can say that much. I swear it felt like you could just start swimming. I love salsa on my salads. I really can’t stand sweet dressings any longer. Oh, that hummus looks awesome. If you cook your own chickpeas, I had someone give me a tip to make your hummus right when the chickpeas are done cooking and still hot. Use some of that liquid and you can pretty much omit oil – not that you use much at all…

    • candice August 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

      I did make my hummus right after they got done cooking last time, and it seemed that it processed more smoothly because they were warm. I didn’t even think to use the cooking liquid – what a great idea!

  2. Liza @ Health Nutting August 31, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    What an awesome post! And I LOVE your plate, the Latte one– so lovely.
    My fave salad topper? I have many haha: toasted almond slivers, dried cranberries, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, apples, pecans, yum all so good!

    • candice August 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

      Thank you!

      Those toppings sound soooo good!

  3. Jennifer@ knackfornutrition August 31, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    I’m eating an epic salad right now too!!! So good!

  4. amber@SAHM's musings August 31, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    Salad looks gooood! Question: when you make your hummus do you buy fresh or canned chickpeas and if fresh how do you prepare them? Are they like beans that you have to soak. Sorry for the ignorance of chickpeas but I wouldn’t mind making my own hummus sometime instead of buying. Any info is greatly appreciated!

    • candice August 31, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

      I typically buy dry chickpeas because I think it’s most economical. It is a bit of a process to cook them – I fill a stock pot with water, put the chick peas in and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, I remove them from the heat and let them soak for about an hour. Then I dump the water, rinse the chickpeas and fill up a new pot of water, boiling them for about another hour and a half.

      While it is a process, if you’re home during the day it’s not that big of a deal because you don’t have to watch them the whole time. One bag makes enough chickpeas for about 3 batches of hummus.

      That being said, my grocery store was out of dry chickpeas this week, so I bought 2 cans instead. It wasn’t as cheap, but yet still cheaper than buying hummus. Either way works great!

      Hope that helps! We eat hummus like it’s our job, so I had to start making it myself:)

  5. Julie @ Pickley Pear September 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    I really need to make an ‘epic’ salad for lunch everyday. I go out way too much and need to stop. I love mango in my salads – adds just the right amount of sweetness. Then I like lime juice for a sweet and sour kind of salad. YUM!

    • candice September 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

      That combo sounds awesome. I’m def going to have to try it! Thanks for the tip:)

  6. Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans September 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    That salad looks great! I am a big fan of loaded salads too. And I prefer spinach over lettuce (especially iceberg) any day!

    • candice September 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

      Oh yes, spinach over lettuce for sure!

  7. Eitan May 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Our go-to salad has lots of vegetables (usually, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red/yellow pepper, radish, kohlrabi, red/white cabbage), dried cranberries, feta, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and is dressed with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and a lot of lemon. Sometimes some kind of beans (typically chickpeas). We just started adding chia seeds too. Another salad we like a lot is lightly steamed chard and beans with lots of lemon juice.


  1. Tweets that mention how to make an epic salad|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds -- - August 31, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alonso R. Arellano, Candice. Candice said: how to make an epic salad! and I do mean EPIC […]

  2. perfect pepper puzzle|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 2, 2010

    […] I added some 2 tbsp of homemade hummus for creaminess and flavor + 1 tsp oregano and a sprinkle of salt and ground red pepper for a little […]

  3. fireworks in September|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 4, 2010

    […] homemade hummus and Kashi TLC crackers […]

  4. sunday|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 5, 2010

    […] whole wheat lavash wrap, broccoli slaw, spinach, homemade hummus, Morningstar black bean […]

  5. labor day love|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 6, 2010

    […] and toaster popped up, I sandwiched it between two Van’s Flax waffles, with a light spread of Spicy Garlic Hummus and a dash of salt and […]

  6. takin’ me back|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 15, 2010

    […] see above: homemade salsa (recipe coming soon!), baby carrots, sugar snap peas, spelt pretzels and spicy garlic  hummus.  This snack plate was so filling and it took me forever to eat it, which is a plus in my […]

  7. bring on the carbs|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds - September 23, 2010

    […] I came home and recreated that beautiful sandwich, just with different veggies and hummus instead of […]

  8. chia seeds are like weight training|ChiaSeedMe - November 12, 2010

    […] swiftly got to work making hummus, and it was the most troublesome batch of hummus I’ve ever created.  First, my food […]

  9. i’m one proud wife|ChiaSeedMe - November 20, 2010

    […] in a couple of Amy’s dinners and lots of hummus – hummus quesadilla, hummus on toast, hummus wrap…and on and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: