When it’s hot outside, I rarely feel like cooking a meal in my cramped and stifling kitchen. I want the job of feeding myself taken care of so I can get outside in the sun! This is when I employ the “full-meal-deal salad” – it’s quick, there’s little to no cooking involved and it’s nutritious so it keeps you fuelled for your summertime activities!
It’s as simple as four steps:
Step 1: Start with a base like torn-up lettuce or, for the ultimate of ease, use bagged or boxed mixed salad greens.
Step 2: Next, add the veggies – some good ideas are red/yellow/orange/green bell peppers, tomato, carrot, mushrooms, celery, alfalfa sprouts, green onions/chives, avocado, cucumber, radishes, and snap/snow peas. Even some fruits work well on savoury salads. Try thinly sliced strawberries or apple or simply toss on some blueberries, blackberries or dried cranberries.
Step 3: Time for the protein! There are so many excellent options to add protein to salad. Definitely don’t leave this step out because the protein is what’s going to make sure your salad keeps you feeling full. Some ideas include:
- Leftover meat from last night’s supper: Try slicing up chicken breast into thin strips or use a scoop of ground beef or moose.
- Hard-boiled eggs: You can boil up several and store them in the fridge to save time.
- Nuts: Many varieties of nuts can be bought pre-chopped from the bulk section. Try almonds, walnuts, pecans or cashews. Look for the unsalted variety.
- Cheese: Chop up your own block of cheddar or simply buy pre-shredded cheese mixes. Cheeses that crumble like feta are delicious and easy, too!
- Canned flaked salmon or tuna: Simply drain and pile on top.
- Lentils and beans: You can buy pre-cooked and seasoned beans and lentils in cans at the grocery store or you can cook them at home and season with your own flavours.
Step 4: Salad dressing adds the final boost of flavour and can add some healthy fats to your salad. The healthiest dressings are usually made at home, but you can certainly find some healthy options in grocery stores, too. Look for dressings made with healthy oils like canola and olive that feature herbs and spices as the main flavouring. Compare nutrition labels for sodium (salt) content and choose to buy dressings that have less sodium.
Here’s the salad that I just made for dinner tonight. It took me 20 minutes to put together and I made a second salad to bring to work for lunch tomorrow. Simple as that. Now I’m off to play in the evening sun!
Carly’s full-meal-deal salad
- 2 cups green lettuce leaves, hand-torn (I had these pre-torn and in my fridge)
- 1/2 cup baby arugula (store-bought box)
- 1/4 cup orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 tbsp green onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup French lentils (green canned lentils work well, too – just make sure to give them a wash)
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
If you are using canned, cooked lentils, you can skip step 1 but remember to wash the lentils!
- In a medium pot, add lentils, bay leaf, garlic powder and water. Bring to a boil. Once the lentils have boiled, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. When they are cooked, the lentils will have absorbed most, if not all, of the cooking water and they will be tender but still holding their shape.
- While the lentils are cooking, make your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.
- Prepare your salad greens and veggies. Use whatever types of veggies you have on hand and add as little or as much of them as you like!
- When everything is ready, add it to a bowl – you don’t need to put the ingredients in the bowl in any particular order! In my salads, I always put down the leafy greens first then I cover those with my veggies, followed by a mound of lentils. I then sprinkle the top with the green onions and feta cheese. Lastly, I drizzle the salad dressing over the whole thing.
About Carly Phinney
Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.