Not too long ago, I was working fulltime in sales in addition to being a fulltime mother when I revamped my nutrition plan. Beforehand, my standard lunch was a sandwich with whole wheat bread and good protein, but inevitably it went along with chips or a cookie. My new plan consisted of a reduced amount of carbs and an increase in protein and fat intake. With my crazy schedule and always being on the go, I realized I needed a new go-to meal that would give me the fuel I needed and was either easy to make or find at a restaurant or grocery store. Considering these factors, I decided what I needed was a salad. Yes, a salad! Sound blah?

The major switch in how I ate was balancing protein, good carbs and starch at every meal. Salads are a great way of getting that balance along with being tasty, fulfilling, fresh, and rich in nutrients. By switching up your recipes, you can also have fun and be creative with it!

Making a salad requires some prep time, so remember it’s important to include ingredients such as dark greens, colorful veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins. These ingredients are full of nutrients, keep your cravings down, and balance your hormones.

The five varieties of salads I rotate throughout the week are listed below. It’s easy to prep, fits every nutrition plan requirement and it can be adjusted to satisfy your sweet or savory taste buds from day to day. Don’t forget, any combination of veggies can be sauteed with coconut oil and spices to create a warm version of a salad. Enjoy and be creative!

The “Easy Peasy”

  • Basic Mixed Greens
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms(already sliced is my favorite)
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Grilled chicken

I usually top this style salad with a balsamic vinegar based dressing.

(see below for homemade or purchase options)

The “Fruit Fueler”

  • Baby Spinach,
  • 1-2 c. Combo of Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Cucumbers
  • Sprinkle of Walnuts or Pistachios
  • One Tablespoon of Goat Cheese
  • Either cubed Deli Chicken or leftover Grilled Chicken.

My dressing of choice on this salad is a healthy oil, apple cider vinegar and a couple drops of maple syrup to match the sweetness of the fruit.

The “Chopped Rainbow”

  • Chopped red pepper or radish
  • Carrots
  • Yellow peppers
  • Cucumbers or raw broccoli stalks
  • Red cabbage
  • Canned tuna

Asian style dressing.

The “Tasty Taco” – just take the traditional taco out of the shell or tortilla!

  • Chopped Romaine (I like this heavy green because I think it holds up better to the warm taco meat)
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Black beans or corn

I love a cilantro based dressing on this or you could do a chipotle ranch made from greek yogurt.

The “Eat your Beets”

  • Spring mix
  • Chopped beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Goat cheese
  • Walnuts
  • Chicken, but I have had it as a side salad to a light piece of fish too

Top with a fruit dressing based with vinegar.

Dressing options:

  • Basic Balsamic: Balsamic vinegar base with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Easy: Avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard and a couple drops of maple syrup
  • Asian: Chopped garlic, Braggs amino’s or soy sauce and apple cider vinegar mixed, then add olive oil and sesame oil to taste
  • Cilantro Lime: place all in a food processor and blend until smooth
    • 1 cup packed cilantro
    • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup lime juice
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • Pinch of minced garlic
  • Fruit-based Dressing: take berries or pomegranate and puree in a food processor and then add to a base of grape seed, olive or avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup or honey.

***Save time Option**** Tessamae, Primal Kitchen and many other brands make awesome, healthy dressings that can save you time AND help you keep your salads interesting!