Now that Spring is here, it’s time to freshen up with those wonderful light 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!
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.
Hard boiled eggs (organic, cage-free, preferably pasture-raised)
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!