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
- spring mix
*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.
- artichoke hearts (a must in my opinion!)
- bell pepper
- snow peas
- cold peas
- beets, shredded
- green onions
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)
Choose your healthy fat.
- 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
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?