Make a Kick-Ass Salad (That Won’t Bore the Shit Out of You)

I personally think that salads offer a creative use of the imagination.

But here had been a time when they represented “diet food” to me.

When you think about salads, do you envision iceberg lettuce, a few tomatoes, cucumbers and some standard ranch dressing (the only kind you want but don’t dare to use because it’s a gazillion calories – even though it’s the only way you could possibly enjoy that large bowl of boring)?

Well, that’s what they represented to me.

These days though, I’m fascinated by them.

Salads. They not only do a body good, but they’re seriously f*cking awesome.

You can do so much with a salad. And now that I’ve changed my crappy eating habits and allowed myself to have an open mind when it comes to healthy food, I’ve discovered that anyone who doesn’t make salads a part of their lives is missing out in a big way.

So the question is – how can you transform those images of the standard restaurant dinner salad into something that excites you?

It all goes back to the imagination.

 

I’m going to share a few ideas with you on how to make salads your friend.

And after I do that, I’m going to discuss a concept you may want to contemplate for a few moments.

It has to do with the way you think. Because the truth is, nothing really changes until you experience a shift in perspective.

Make a Kick-Ass Salad (That Won’t Bore the Shit Out of You)

I first began incorporating salads into my “diet” several years ago when I worked in the beauty industry as a hairstylist.

It became important for me to bring lunch to work since it was around the time I had realized I needed to start thinking of food as a useful tool for healthy living instead of associating it with guilt.

I explained all of that in this post. Redefining what food meant to me was a life changer – and even though I hadn’t yet become a fitness professional, this whole process started the journey.

I began making salads to take to work with me. This way, I not only had a well-organized menu planned out for the day, but it saved a lot of money on take out.

Now while my salads were satisfying to me, I worked with someone who opened my eyes to just how creative and amazing salads can be.

My friend, Sandee, is a Yoga instructor. She’s one of those women who easily looks about 20 years younger than she is. But more importantly, even though she’s in phenomenal shape, she doesn’t act like someone who’s full of themselves because they look good.

In the salon industry, we would often trade services. Being that Sandee was the receptionist at the time, she offered me a salad in exchange for haircut for her son. I accepted – and I’m so glad I did.

The salad she made was fantastic! It was filled with wide variety of vegetables and grains – it was not only filling, but it was delicious. Her combinations of nutrient dense, but yummy ingredients inspired me to enjoy salads in a way I never had before.

Since then, I’ve realized that salad making can be a creative process. I’ve allowed her methods to guide me when I make them, and I think you’ll enjoy these ideas as well.

So how do you make a kick ass salad that won’t bore the shit out of you?

By following the suggestions I’m about to make.

When considering what to add to a salad, think about your base, vegetables, add-ons, and dressing.

Base:

  • romaine/ green or red leaf lettuce
  • spinach
  • mixed baby greens
  • kale

Vegetables:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • sprouts
  • radishes

Now when it comes to the veggies, you have the option to cook some of them and add them in afterward. I like to do this because I don’t enjoy all vegetables when they’re raw.

I’ll cook things like:

  • squash
  • zucchini
  • onions
  • mushrooms (sometimes I prefer them cooked)
  • kale (same)
  • asparagus
  • brussel sprouts

Add-Ons:

These are the ingredients that make this process fun.

You can add things like:

  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc)
  • seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc)
  • chickpeas
  • grains (quinoa, pasta, brown rice)
  • hard boiled eggs (ONLY certified free range from the local farmer’s market)
  • raisins/craisins
  • strawberries/blueberries/cooked apples or pears, or other fruits

I like to prepare the grains as a dish in and of itself and add it to the salad.

For example, I’ll make beans and rice with whatever spices or flavoring I’m in the mood for. I’ll make a pasta dish the same way and I’ll follow that protocol with quinoa.

I may take the veggies I prefer to cook and add them to the grains and just have the entire dish act as an add-on for the salad. That’s what Sandee did and I thought it was fantastic.

Dressing:

When to comes to salad dressing, this can make or break your efforts to use this as meal for healthy living and weight loss.

The harsh truth is – some dressings can turn your salad into a dish that’s loaded with fat, sodium and chemicals.

I’m not saying you should never use them, but if you do, just be mindful of the serving size.

However, your best bet is to make your own. Be creative with this and have fun. If you’re short of ideas, I’ll share a simple recipe I’ve come up with – and I’ll direct you to some other ideas on Pinterest.

Dana’s Homemade Honey Mustard Balsamic Dressing Recipe

This is so easy.

In a bottle that has a lid, you will add:

  • 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup organic balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (preferably local raw) honey
  • 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard

Put the lid on the bottle, shake it all up and you’re good to go.

If you have a store by you that allows you to sample different flavors of oils and vinegars, check it out and come up with some mixtures that will offer you some variety.

I visited one of these places with my husband and my Mom not too long ago and the staff came up with several concoctions for us to try out.

I chose the garlic infused olive oil and the pomegranate balsamic vinegar. The combo was delicious! I encourage you to find one of these stores by you and give them a try.

You can find some ideas by visiting this website.

If you like a creamier dressing, you can make your own using organic plain yogurt, spices and fresh herbs.

There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest as well.

My Latest Salad Recipe

I want to share one of my most recent salad recipes with you. I found it enjoyable, and so did the hubs.

When my family comes to visit, I like to prepare healthy foods. I choose a salad recipe that I think they’ll enjoy – and they always do.

This recipe includes:

  • spinach/ mixed greens or whatever is fresh at the local farmer’s market
  • red bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • kale
  • asparagus
  • hard boiled eggs

Wash and dry the spinach and other salad greens along with the raw vegetables and place into a large bowl.

  • salad greens
  • red bell peppers
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • anything else you want to add

raw salad ingredients

Next, peel (if applicable), wash and cut up the other vegetables. These are to be lightly sauteed:

  • kale
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • asparagus

salad ingredients

Add to a pan with about 1/4 cup of water, 2 tsp of organic lemon juice (or squeeze fresh lemons – just remove the pits), about 1 tbsp of organic coconut palm sugar and a little salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat until they’re lightly cooked (the kale should be somewhat wilted by this point).

cooked salad ingredients

For this particular recipe, I’m including what I had available. I use whatever I have around, so if you have other vegetables (like squash, zucchini, garlic, etc) that you want to add, go for it.

I also added hard boiled eggs to this salad.

But before I continue with this recipe, I need to mention something.

When it comes to buying eggs, I do NOT support the commercial egg industry. I’ve seen footage of some the most inhumane treatment I’ve witnessed from the human race.

These birds are treated horribly.

And don’t let the words “cage free” fool you either. They’re still crammed into small spaces where they barely have room to move around. And the male chicks (I’m sorry to say) are considered useless because they can’t lay eggs, so they’re discarded. I won’t get into how they’re killed, but I’ll mention that it’s done in a way you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

I purchase eggs from my local farmer’s market. In my neck of the woods, people raise birds and collect the eggs to be sold at these markets.

I’ve inquired about where they came from and I was assured that what I purchase is certified free range from local farms.

Just something to think about.

When you’re finished sauteeing the veggies, add them into your bowl of raw salad ingredients and top with the dressing of your choice.

salad

The final product will be a well-balanced meal filled with a variety of healthy ingredients that will fill you up and leave you satisfied.

You’ll feel a sense of pride and joy about what you’ve just created – and consumed.

Guilt will no longer play a role in your eating habits.

Putting it All Together

The way you approach healthy living will determine the results you get.

If you view this as a chore you have to embark on to lose weight, you’ll hate the process.

If, however, you view this from a perspective that enables you to open your mind, try new things and expand your level of freedom when it comes to new foods, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Wellness is a mindset. Everything first happens in the mental realm, then it becomes a physical manifestation.

As you think, so shall you be. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

BE someone who feels a sense of enthusiasm toward healthy, nutritious foods and your behavior will become a natural reflection of this.

When you make a salad with a wide variety of ingredients, you’ll get different flavors, textures and of course, health benefits.

You can easily make a meal out of a salad and it’ll not only satisfy your hunger cravings, but you can make a creative art project out of each new version you come up with.

If you get your kids involved in the preparation process, they’ll want to eat it too because kids like to experience what they’re a part of. It’s the path of least resistance when it comes to exposing children to healthy eating habits.

 

Additionally, I would imagine it’s a wonderful way to bond with them and spend some quality time.

Have fun with salads. Use your imagination to include fresh ingredients, flavors, and textures.

Healthy living can be an enjoyable experience. Just remember to add the good stuff in. It’ll crowd out the useless stuff all on its own this way.

I’d love to hear what you thought about this. And if you have any ideas of your own, please feel free to share them in the comment’s section.

And don’t forget to sign up below to grab a free copy of my weight loss guide. You’ll get some no-nonsense tips on how to make well-being a natural part of your life in every way imaginable.

Do you associate salads with boredom? Do you think you’ll give them a try now that you see how amazing they can be?

Want more bullshit-free wisdom? Check out my latest book “Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity).”

Grab your copy at any of these online retailers.

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Dana Gore

Author of the books "A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You)" and "Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity)", Dana Gore is a health and fitness professional, wellness coach, and freelance writer. Dana brings guidance to the public about how to achieve optimal health in a safe and structured manner while inspiring her readers to seek self-awareness and inner peace as a means to well-being in all areas of life.

16 thoughts on “Make a Kick-Ass Salad (That Won’t Bore the Shit Out of You)

  • at 5:10 am
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    Hello Dana Gore,

    Nice to meet you here 🙂 Hope you are doing great.

    This is something very creative to try out this summer.
    Salads are one of the favourite things to have, they are healthy, light to eat and
    refreshens us the most.

    I was having old same bunch of salads kept on repeating mode for few weeks.
    Frankly speaking, was really bored with that piece of shit.
    This is something very creative and looks dam tasty.
    These salads recipe are going to hit in my kitchen this weekend.

    Thank you for sharing this among us.
    Have a healthy week ahead 🙂

    Shantanu sinha

    Reply
    • at 10:13 am
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      Hi Shantanu,

      Welcome to my blog.

      Your comment made me laugh. 🙂

      I’m glad you found this inspiring. Salads can be a creative way to enjoy healthy living, so I hope this came in handy for you over the weekend.

      The same recipes do get boring, so it’s important to have fun with this.

      I’m glad you decided to visit and I appreciate your comment.

      Reply
  • at 6:38 pm
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    Hi Dana,

    I needed some creativity in my salad! Thanks for the inspiration!

    One thing I’ve changed in my diet this year was to get away from all the “oils” that are in our food everywhere. Everything from palm oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, even olive oil. Everything has oil in it and so I have found an “oil free” salad dressing I use. It tastes like italian, only it is just a tad thinner, so it’s a little watery but still good. And healthy!

    I’m fortunate my in-laws raise chickens so we get truly cage free, farm fresh local eggs. That’s interesting how they get around the “cage-free” labeling. Semantic game players, they are.

    I don’t recall considering the idea to put some cooked veggies in a salad. Surprising that simple idea took so long to find me. Why not add some cooked veggies? Who says everything has to be raw?

    Welp, almost time for dinner, gotta go chop some lettuce. 😉

    Matthew

    Reply
    • at 11:38 am
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      Hi Matthew,

      Welcome to my blog 🙂

      I’m so glad you’ve found inspiration in my post.
      Now that I think about it, I’ve realized (through your comment) that I should have specified a serving size for my dressing recipe. I’ll go back and edit that to add it in.

      1/4 of oil is a lot for one serving. That recipe is good for 2-3 salads easily. But as far as oil free options, that’s always available as well. They can be fantastic. Oil isn’t always necessary and in fact, I no longer saute vegetables using oil. I use water, herbs and spices – sometimes fresh lemon or organic lemon juice and it works out just fine without the extra fat and calories.

      It’s so cool that your in-laws raise chickens. That’s the best way to get true cage free eggs from birds that are treated well. Awesome.
      And yes, these companies can get away with whatever terminology is legal when it comes to marketing.

      I love adding cooked veggies to my salads. It offers more variety and adds different textures and flavors to it. If you try that idea out, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment, Matthew 🙂

      Reply
  • at 8:07 am
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    Hi Dana,

    You are so right! What we put into our bodies is what we will get out of them.

    You are an inspiration. I mean that!!!!

    My wife and I eat salads with every meal and regularly we make salads the main meal. She is phenomenal at preparing them and I am 100% certain she will want to see this post and your recipes.

    As you know, we are on a journey that we started nearly 15 months ago, and took about five months away from (that was an accidental mistake, and a big one!)

    In two weeks I’ve dropped from 188 lbs to 181 lbs and an inch from my waist (from a 34″ to 33″, increased my endurance significantly.

    We do a mixture of cardio, weights and hiit training throughout the week (include 2 mile walks per day) and while we need protein, we also need nutrients that only plants, veggies and fruits can provide.

    Thanks so much for being a valuable and inspirational resource Dana!

    ~ Don Purdum

    Reply
    • at 5:57 pm
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      Hi Don,

      Awww, that’s so cool of you to say. I really appreciate that.

      It’s fantastic that you’ve dropped seven pounds and an inch from your waist. I bet you feel SO much better. It’s great to see you’ve been so consistent. Even the five months weren’t enough to deter you from getting back into things.

      Bravo.

      I love salads. I just dumped last night’s leftover quinoa and sauteed veggies into a bowl of romaine lettuce and red bell peppers. It sounds like you and your wife are big salad fans. You can easily make a dinner out of them – and it seems you know this 🙂

      Yes, be sure to show her this post. Maybe you’ll end up trying this recipe out. If you do, I want to know what you thought of it.

      Thank-you for what you said Don. It means a lot to me that what I share here has a positive impact. It means a lot.

      Enjoy the rest of your week. I’ll be by soon.

      Reply
  • at 5:17 pm
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    I am glad that I stopped by to check out your blog Dana. I have been having a salad as my dinner for the past eight days and I was bored with it all since Saturday. Which means that I was in danger of reverting back to former habits. Thanks for new ideas!

    Reply
    • at 8:45 pm
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      Hi Rachel,

      Welcome to my blog 🙂

      I’m glad you found some inspiration here. Anything can become boring after a period of time regardless of how much you like it – so I hope some of these ideas have inspired you.

      When it comes to salads, anything goes. You can make your rice or quinoa dish and chop up the veggies – lettuce/ greens/ spinach and all and add them in that way too. You’ll still get all the benefits, but the presentation will seem different. That may be all that’s necessary to feel a sense of diversity.

      I’m glad you stopped by. Great to meet you.

      Reply
  • at 3:40 pm
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    Hey Dana,

    I love salad! My husband and I are vegetables lovers so we, just like you, had them almost everywhere. We’ll definitely try your honey mustard balsamic dressing recipe. I’ll let you know, but I’m sure we’ll love it! My husband loves to make his own dressings. he has created a caesar dressing from a recipe that he found in a recipe book and he modified it to our taste. It’s really good!

    I’m horrified of the treatment those poor birds are enduring. Here, we are very lucky because our local supermarket sells local farmers’ eggs and we only buy those. It encourages the local farmers, and we have excellent eggs from well-treated birds. Putting eggs in salads is a great idea! I never think of it, but I’ll keep it in mind!

    Thanks for sharing this with us, gf! Hope you’re having a great Monday! 🙂

    ~Nataly

    Reply
    • at 8:41 pm
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      Hi Nataly,

      Oooh, I bet that caesar dressing is good. I haven’t tried to make any of my own, but I love caesar salads. I just don’t eat them often because the dressing is SO fattening. I’ll have to look into some healthier versions and create one sometime soon.

      I think you’ll enjoy the honey mustard balsamic one I shared here. I’d love to hear about it when you try it out. Let me know how it goes. I’ve enjoyed it for a while now and I’ve made it for others and so far, it’s been a hit. You can always tailor things more to your liking, but those are the four ingredients I use.

      Sometimes I prefer it sweeter than other times. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for.

      Like you, I’ve been horrified to see what goes on in the commercial egg industry. I don’t support them, and I felt I had to mention it here.

      I appreciate your contribution here Nataly. Have a fantastic week 🙂

      Reply
  • at 12:40 pm
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    Hi Dana,

    When it comes to salads I almost live on them. I like to eat raw foods, so mixing things up is what I love. Here, you have given me great ideas. I haven’t put an egg in my salad for a long time…AHA..ding ding…now I can have that extra boost of protein. (BTW I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the quality of the egg. That is my same reason why I buy local organic ones. I know what huge processed and so called cage free companies do 🙁 )

    I like putting chick peas or even black beans – for extra iron in my salads. When people think salad, they usually think of some lettuce and tomatoes thrown together with a creamy dressing. I couldn’t even look at that stuff.

    Making my own dressing is so much fun! No high sodium and other ingredients I cannot even pronounce 🙂

    OK..going out to buy some baby kale…..

    -Donna

    Reply
    • at 8:35 pm
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      Hi Donna,

      It’s great that you eat a lot of raw foods. Salads are perfect for this. I’m glad you got some cool ideas here because it took a while until I realized I could still add plenty of the vegetables I prefer cooked – so I had to share that bit of info here.

      I’ve seen some footage of these commercial egg companies and it’s horrible. I’m with you – I won’t support them. I had to mention it here because I just don’t think most people are aware of what goes on. And the baby male chicks? Awful.

      I love adding chickpeas to my salads. I love hummus too – and I’ve added dollops of it as well at other times just to mix things up.

      I’m glad you got a lot out of this. It’s so cool to prepare one of your favorite foods and then write about it 🙂

      Have a great week Donna.

      Reply
  • at 12:32 pm
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    Hi Dana,

    Loving your recipes!

    My wife has salad for lunch daily. Romaine, cheese, olives, Chick peas, dressing, and like 4 other things. Robust! Meal time. I usually finish it because she’s too full to down the whole thing. Creativity is A1 in the salad game because you need to spice things up to make it tasty.

    Gone are the days of iceberg and Creamy Italian 😉

    Ryan

    Reply
    • at 8:29 pm
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      Hey Ryan,

      Awww, thanks so much 🙂

      Yep, creativity is the way to make this fun and exciting.
      I know most people don’t think about salads that way, but they really can be like an art project.

      And yep, they can be very filling. Like your wife, I’ve had many occasions when I couldn’t finish mine, and there would still be enough for leftovers.

      Thanks for visiting Ryan. Enjoy your week blogging from paradise 🙂

      Reply
  • at 4:56 pm
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    Hi Dana,

    Boy, you really do know how to make food fun, yet remain healthy! I like salads and try changing them up a bit. I’m not a huge veggie eater but I do like cucumbers, ‘maters, green peppers, and eggs in my salad. You’ve given me some great ideas!

    I’m glad you mentioned the salad dressing because the really do have a bunch of calories, fat, and sodium in some of them. I don’t create my own dressings but I am very careful as to which ones I buy.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! You know I’ve already passed it along and pinned!

    B

    Reply
    • at 5:36 pm
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      Hey Brenda,

      I sure hope to make healthy food sound like fun 🙂

      I know what it’s like to feel like I had to go on a diet so often. I dreaded the idea of eating because I felt so uninspired and clueless about what to eat.

      In the past, I had always looked at salads as diet food or the “before dinner” bowl of boredom. I didn’t know how creative you could be with them – and it helped that I’d kept an open mind to try new things.

      The salad dressings can make or break the whole idea. I wouldn’t say to avoid them completely, just be mindful of what’s in most of them and to choose wisely (or at least be aware of the serving size). I’ve made my own for a while now – even though I need to expand on what I make as well.

      I’m glad this inspired you and I appreciate that you’ve stopped by.
      Have a great week ahead Brenda 🙂

      Reply

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