Now that Spring is here, it’s time to freshen up with those wonderful light spring mix salads that you can just whip up without a thought! Also, if you want to shed those extra pounds winter may have brought on, this is a straightforward way to do it!
This week, I am keeping it very simple. I just want to throw out ideas for what a basic “clean” salad can be–we are not talking iceberg lettuce with bacon bits, croutons and ranch dressing here!–and just leave it to you to do your thing! Sometimes, that’s all it takes--a little word of encouragement and an easy plan to put it into effect. So here we go!
Spring Mix Salads
Try this “formula” for a spa dinner every night this week!
No fuss, no “suffering,” just use the same base every day of all-you-can-eat fresh mixed greens with lots of fresh cut veggies and then, each day, vary one lean protein of your choice. I’ll tell you what I mean!
FRESH ORGANIC MIXED GREENS: AS MUCH AS YOU WANT EVERY DAY
As much and as diverse as you’d like: baby spinach, arugula, kale, Boston lettuce, romaine, radicchio, chard, green leaf, red leaf…..(You can even take advantage of the pre-washed ready-to-go bags to make it easier for you).
FRESH VEGGIES: AS MUCH AS YOU WANT EVERY DAY
As much raw chopped vegetables as you can pile on (tomato, carrot, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, alfalfa sprouts, fennel, cauliflower, string beans, snap peas etc…). I recommend a mandolin slicer for perfectly thin slices for some of the harder veggies–it’s so quick and easy. You can also grill your vegetables–see Grilled Veggies.
SOME LEAN PROTEIN: PICK ONE FROM THE LIST BELOW EACH DAY
Plain cooked lentils (you can also used canned, well rinsed) or my recipe for French Lentil & Sweet Potato Salad
Plain canned beans, well rinsed (black, red kidney, chickpeas, cannellini, Great Northern, fava). You can also use my Black Bean Tomato and Corn Salad.
Plain cooked whole grains (bulgur wheat, farro, quinoa, wheat berries). I recommend you make a batch and keep it stored in a tupperware in the fridge. it will keep fresh for a week. You can also use my recipe for Simply Quinoa, or Tabbouleh Salad.
Plain grilled fish (see my tip: Grilling is that easy) or seafood (Shrimp, scallops) or canned tuna in water (I recommend this one because it is sustainably caught wild seafood).
Plain grilled organic free-range chicken breasts (see my tip: Grilling Is that Easy) or you can use my Crispy Chicken Tenders, or my Grilled Orange Herb Chicken.
Hard boiled eggs (organic, cage-free, preferably pasture-raised)
Tofu–you have GOT to try this crispy tofu recipe–watch!
IF YOU’D LIKE, FEEL FREE TO TOP YOUR SALAD WITH:
Fresh Sliced Fruit (strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, avocado)
Some nuts or seeds: (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, hempseeds are delightful and nutritious)
Finally, for the DRESSING:
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and vinegar of your choice ( I love balsamic vinegar but cider vinegar or white or red wine vinegar is lovely too). If you prefer, you can replace the vinegar with fresh squeezed lemon–a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper and toss. That’s it!
If you prefer a creamier dressing, I recommend adding a big dollop of my Simply Spinach Dip to your salad, before tossing. It is not only delicious but it also adds nutrients to your salad to boot, because is filled with fresh ground baby spinach. You can make a batch and store in a tupperware in the fridge. It will keep fresh for a week, so don’t hesitate, if creamy is your thing, this is the dressing for you! Another idea to make your dressing “creamy” is to add a dollop of hummus (store-bought is fine) to your oil and vinegar dressing. My daughter Natalia thought of it and it’s absolutely delicious and nutritious! It even takes care of the lean protein for you!
I think if you try this for one week, and keep your snacks simple & wholesome (here is more on that!), and just have fresh fruit if you want something for dessert, you will be surprised with the result! (now that the days are getting warmer, add a brisk walk outside too, while you are at it!)
For one, because you can plan this ahead of time for the whole week. You don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner every night because everything will be ready to go in your fridge or your pantry.
No fuss–I love that!
Secondly, because of the high volume of veggies in these salads, you will fill up on fewer calories and will find yourself not only satiated and satisfied but you may well notice those pounds shedding off steadily!
If you prefer more “formal” recipes for salads, here are a couple you will also love, but again, same idea: lots of veggies, some wholegrain, some legumes or beans and a light homemade dressing and you are on your way!
So, there you have it, take it away and make it your own, be creative and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common ingredients in a fresh spring mix salad?
Mixed greens like spinach, arugula, and lettuce together with nuts or seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds, and some peas or beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, or edamame, can make good ingredients for a fresh spring mix salad.
Can I add protein to my spring mix salad, and if so, what are some good options?
Yes, you can add protein to your salad. As mentioned above, you can also use my recipe for Simply Quinoa or Tabbouleh Salad.
What dressing pairs well with a fresh spring mix salad?
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar of your choice. If you prefer, you can replace the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon, a pinch of sea salt, and fresh ground pepper, and toss. That’s it!
Can I make a spring mix salad ahead of time, or is it better to make it right before serving?
You can always make a fresh salad ahead of time. I recommend you make a batch and keep it stored in a Tupperware in the fridge; it will keep fresh for a week.
How can I add some crunch to my spring salad?
Adding some crunch to your spring salad can be a great way to add texture and flavour. The easiest way is to add nuts or seeds to your salad. Try adding almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds to your salad.
Are there any fruits or vegetables that should be avoided in a spring salad?
Well, there are no specific fruits or vegetables that should be avoided in a spring salad.
Can I make a spring salad into a complete meal, or is it better as a side dish?
Yes, you can make a spring salad into a complete meal by adding some protein and healthy fats to it. Adding some whole grains to your salad can help make it more filling and nutritious. Try adding quinoa, brown rice, or farro. Adding some fruit to your salad can add some sweetness and nutrients.
Kathy C. says
Thank you for the healthy eating tips and inspiration!!
Great work Catherine. Since I found an interview with your husband with a German newspaper on the internent a few weeks ago I started to reasearch and read his articles on the web. Im just starting to change my diet and he is a great source to get scientific objective information. Already bought his book. His artcile in the Huffington Post “My milk manifesto” and his “favourite breakfast” which he mentions in that article directed me to your page. I will keep following your great work. One last question. Is your husband David really eating 18 ounces of berries for breakfast every day? Thats half a kilo if im right and sounds almost unbelievable to me! And if yes then why so much berries and in which plate does he fit all those berries with the greek yogurt 🙂 Greetings from Munich, Germany.
Catherine Katz says
Thank you for the kind words! I passed them on to my husband as well as I know he always appreciates such nice feedback!
He eats 1 small container each of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and I just went to look in my fridge to check, and sure enough, they each weigh 6 oz each indeed! And YES he does eat ALL those berries for breakfast but it is really all he eats after his strenuous workout everyday and it also counts as his lunch too as it fills him up until dinner, aside from some healthy snacks throughout the afternoon.He puts it in a huge bowl ( more like a salad bowl!!) and I found a perfect big Tupperware to store it in when he travels. Having said that, berries are very expensive and not everyone can afford them and there are a lot of other healthy alternatives to it!! I hope this was helpful!And again, thanks for the lovely comment and welcome to CUISINICITY!!
Donna Saliter says
Hey Catherine, what great comments here! Gotta get some of them into your new “Reviews” page ~_^. I’ve been chopping up some of my fave, Boston lettuce, and plum tomato, and thinking about adding…let’s see… how about some sauteed tofu?
Catherine Katz says
OOOH That sounds wonderful Donna!!!
I am loving all your post Catherine. When I landed on your site, all I did was read article from article. I like this post because I have been into vegetables and salads ever since, but I am also worried with the fat that the dressing has. Now I can have my veggie salad that is much healthier and cleaner. Thank you so much for sharing!
Catherine Katz says
I am delighted to hear that Ashley! Thank you for your lovely comment!
Maritza Cordon says
So delicious, and healthy !
God Bless you!!
Catherine Katz says
Thank you so much Maritza!!!
Susanna Carter says
As a triathlete, OGBYN, health coach, soon to be preventive medicine resident (yes, a second residency, gasp!) and follower of all things Katz on the internet . . I love this post and your entire website. I live on salad variations (favorite is a spinach base with grilled salmon) and try to get all the folks I work with to get hooked on it too! And I laughed at the iceberg lettuce, bacon bits and ranch dressing! That is like the quintessential American idea of salad! Thanks for another great post. I
Catherine Katz says
Wow Susanna, you are one amazing woman and your wonderful comment went straight to my heart!! I agree, I too love love love grilled wild salmon on fresh or wilted spinach–can’t go wrong–YUM!
This is a beautiful posting with great advice for salad as a meal but if you do the book it will probably need a different name. I got a book at the library titled Salad for Dinner by Jeanne Kelley.
Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it.
So often, American’s look at salad as a luncheon entree or a small before dinner starter. It would be do fabulous to declare the whole month of June as the “Salad for Dinner” month. Dear Catherine, let’s hold a contest and select 200 of the most unique salad recipes to be put in a book titled: “Salad For Dinner”. The winner of the most creative salad gets to create their salad on a taped video for Cuisinecity.com and their recipe will be the first recipe shown in the book. Additionally, their salad will be on the cover of the book.
Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN says
Beautifully stated and presented, Catherine! Simple, elegant, healthy, nourishing!
Catherine Katz says
Thank you so much Theresa! Your kind words mean so much to me!
Catherine Katz says
Thank you so much, my favorite Susan in the whole world!!!
Susan A. Katz says
Wow! My favorite meal in the summer (actually, any time) is a great salad. You can’t have too many ideas for ways to create these fabulous, light, healthy meals. I think I’m going to start a little early this year because, with the frigid temps and snow – I did not get my usual outdoor activities in and could stand to give back a pound or two that came my way this winter. Can’t think of a better way to start getting in shape than with great salads! Thank you Catherine – as always, you’re right on target! And your photos are spectacular!!!