How to Build the Perfect Salad

Salads are my go-to lunch. They pack a ton of vegetables into one dish, they're super filling, and they can be eaten at home or on-the-go. There are so many possibilities for delicious salad combinations, but I generally stick to this formula when crafting my lunch:

Step 1: Pick a Green Base

Generally, the darker the green the healthier it is, but you don't always need to opt for spinach or kale. Romaine works well if you’re in a crunchy and crisp mood and there may be some days when you're just craving iceberg---and that's fine. You can also use chopped salad mixes that incorporate cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts and more.

Step 2: Add More Color

Pile on the color: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, summer squash...seriously anything goes. I love to add leftover roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower from dinner the night before. Go to town here.

Step 3: Choose a Protein

You need a protein to help keep you satisfied. Leftover grilled chicken or steak, canned tuna or salmon, or hard boiled eggs are go-to options if you like a little meat. For vegetarian protein sources, try quinoa, beans, hummus, seeds, chickpeas or lentils. Remember, a serving of animal protein is about the size of a smart phone; for vegetarian sources the standard is half a cup.

Step 4: Dress it Up with Healthy Fat

Adding some healthy fat to your salad will bring flavor, promote satiety, and aid in absorption of all the nutrients in those vegetables. Olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice or splash of vinegar is the simplest way to go. If you buy a dressing, pick one with simple ingredients, preferably organic, and stick to just about one tablespoon of dressing. You can also add avocado, cheese like feta, or nuts. If you add a fat source go easy on the dressing.

 This salad started off with spring mix, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. I had leftover basil chicken as a protein, and my fats were avocado and homemade tzatziki. I just used some vinegar as a dressing since I had two fats. (And some whole grain pita chips on the side!)

This salad started off with spring mix, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. I had leftover basil chicken as a protein, and my fats were avocado and homemade tzatziki. I just used some vinegar as a dressing since I had two fats. (And some whole grain pita chips on the side!)