I work a 9-5 job so I bring my lunch to work almost every day. As much as I love to cook, sometimes I just want to throw something simple together for the next day that will still be nutritious, fulfilling, and enjoyable. I know that a lot of people get stuck in the same routine and run out of ideas for salads so hopefully the following guide will help spark some creativity.

These are my go to ingredients for composing salads. Besides the vegetable and greens sections, try not to choose more than one item from each category. It is, after all, a salad and should be kept as low calorie as possible. Of course, keep in mind that each step is completely optional. 

1. Pick a green- These are my greens of choice. During winter, I'll throw in some bitter greens, such as radicchio or endive. Try switching out iceberg and romaine for darker lettuces such as these: 


2. Add grains or legumes- Salads have the reputation for being unsubstantial as a meal. Try using the following healthy grains or legumes to make your salad more hearty: 

black beans
israeli couscous
wheat berries
cannellini beans

3. Choose your vegetables- Besides the greens, vegetables should be the main component. These are what I use most often: 

grape tomatoes
red onion
brussels sprouts
bell peppers
artichoke hearts

4. Add fruit- I really love the contrast in colors and flavors that fruit adds. You could add almost any fruit to a salad for some sweetness. I suppose bananas would be the only strange addition I can think of. My favorites are:

raisins, dried
cranberries, dried

5. Protein- When adding protein to a salad, stick with lean, organic meats and try to keep the ratio to at least 1:3, protein to greens.

eggs, poached or boiled

6. Toss in some nuts or seeds- Adds great texture and an easy boost of omega 3's to any salad. 

pine nuts
pumpkin seeds

7. Tear in some fresh herbs- Adds freshness and flavor.


 8. Finish off with cheese- The most indulgent part of my salads and not always used, but cheese just makes everything better.

feta                                    shaved parmesan
goat cheese                        blue cheese

As for salad dressings, I highly discourage using pre-made, store bought bottles. They may look and sound appealing, but they can nutritionally ruin a fresh, healthy salad. The majority of bottled dressings come full of additives, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, and artificial flavorings. Vinaigrettes are so simple to prepare; there is no reason not to make them fresh.

My go to dressing is just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. If I have an extra 30 seconds to spare, I'll even whisk in a drop or 2 of honey and some mustard.

A good pantry to build to have different variations for vinaigrettes is as follows:

good quality mustard
red wine vinegar
apple cider vinegar
balsamic vinegar
good quality olive oil

The typical ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1, oil to vinegar. I prefer mine to be more acidic so I do almost 1:1. I recommend trying different amounts of oil and seeing which you prefer.

To make, start with a vinegar and add salt to dissolve. If using mustard and/or honey, add in next. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil and whisk until combined and emulsified. Add in some freshly ground pepper and it's ready. You can even skip the whisk all together and add the ingredients to a mason jar or tupperware and shake until combined.

If you have some time on a Sunday evening, try preparing a few items from each category and have them ready to go for the next few days (I typically prepare for no more than 3 days as I like to keep the items as fresh as possible). This creates a convenient salad bar in your own fridge and you can quickly throw something together each day.



1/4 cup of wheat berries
1 cup of water
1 beet
1 navel orange
feta, about 1 tbs
walnuts, about 1 tbs
1 lemon
*1/4 tsp of good quality mustard
1/4 tsp of honey
1-2 tbs of olive oil

*When I say 'good quality mustard', I am referring to dijon or whole grain, not the American yellow mustard. That stuff is only meant for hot dogs and pretzels. ;)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets tightly in foil twice to prevent any leaking. (I cook all the beets in a bunch at one time and then keep the cooked beets in the refrigerator to use when needed). Roast for 1 hour, turn off the oven and allow to sit and steam in the foil for 30 minutes. Unwrap the foil and peel the beets. The skins should come off very easily once cooked. Cut into bite sized pieces or slices and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep 1 cooled beet aside for this salad.

Bring the water to a boil and add the wheat berries. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Drain any remaining water. Set aside and cool.

Wash the kale, dry, and cut or tear into bite size pieces.

Segment the orange, crush the walnuts, and break the feta into small pieces.

To make the vinaigrette, combine honey, mustard, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Drizzle in olive oil and whisk to emulsify.

Toss the wheat berries, beets, kale, and oranges in the vinaigrette. Garnish with walnuts, feta, and freshly cracked pepper.

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