I was never a huge salad fan, if I’m going to be honest. Even in my vegan days, it was rare that I would actually dig into a salad as a meal. (Granted, I was a serious junk food vegan.) Anyway, in the last few years, my eating has shifted and I’ve focused a lot more on whole foods in most meals, and that’s meant adding more salads to our weekly rotation of meals.
We’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to struggle with salads, which might sound a little goofy, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of pre-bought, expensive garbage salads, salads that contain more calories than a standard fast food meal, or salads that are so ‘healthy’ that they don’t fill you up and don’t really nourish you.
Our salads have a few key components that I hit in this video—and as you’ll see, take very, very little time to prep. We tell clients that the best strategy is to cook a bunch at the beginning of the week, especially when it comes to protein, but I also urge you to roast a ton of root veggies as well! So, some top tips that you’ll see played out in the video…
How to Make a Big Salad Taste Awesome + Fuel Your Active, Healthy Life:
- Cook a bunch of protein and root veggies early in the week. This is literally a 5 minute job. Chop a bunch of sweet potatoes and beets, throw them on a pan with some olive oil. Dump a bunch of chicken breasts on another pan, also with olive oil. Maybe add salt/pepper/rosemary if you’re feeling fancy AF. Heat at 350F for around an hour, til the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes and beets are soft.
- In my nutrition book, Fuel Your Ride, Georgia Gould gave the best advice I have ever gotten about cooking: The best tool you will ever get is a sharp knife. We have this one, a Wusthof, and while we’ve had cheap knives that worked OK before, this $95 one was a game-changer. I didn’t know cutting veggies could be this easy!! Best $$$ ever spent on kitchen gear, it’s saved so much time.
- OK, next tip: Fuel Your Ride is currently only $2.99 for the Kindle version!!
- Variety in greens! In this one, I use kale, spinach and arugula—I love arugula for the peppery flavor it gives, which saves on the dressing later
- Add colors. I used peppers, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes—nothing fancy, just the cheapest options
- Add healthy fats: I use avocado, a sprinkle of feta and olives (and a bit of the olive brine, because… wait for it…)
- I actually skip dressings. A little bit of lemon juice and sea salt bring out the flavors of the veggies without adding any extra calories that aren’t really needed. (If you are a dressing fan, use a small amount. Like, 1/3 of what you usually use.)
- SHAKE IT LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE. Anyone remember the McDonalds Shaker Salads from 20 years ago? I remember I hated salads as a kid… Except for those. There are obvious reasons, but one was that when you shook the salad, the dressing got on every piece of lettuce. It turns out, if you put a lid over your salad bowl and shake the $hit out of it, the lemon juice, salt, tiny bit of cheese and moisture from the hydrating veggies makes your whole salad seem dressed without actually adding any dressing. (Using arugula, again, helps since it’s super flavorful)
- Top with your pre-cooked potatoes/beets, adding more if you did a hard workout and need the carbs, less if you’re trying to cut calories; and chop and add your protein of choice (tofu, chicken, steak, salmon from a can, whatever!)
Moral of the story? This is SUPER EASY. There’s virtually no excuse to not do it, because a 1st grader could handle this level of cooking (though maybe with a less sharp knife). Do it a few times and you’ll also get faster: this whole thing, cooking time not included, took a whopping 10 minutes… and it was enough salad for two nights, 4 meals.
Check out the video for a fast-motion version of the process (it’s kind of hypnotic):
Liked this? Let me know in the comments what some of your favorite salad add-ins are!
Before you go… on the topic of healthy meals, want a free 7-day guide to healthy habit change? Sign up here!