WIAW: Sensational Salads Tutorial

Just wanted to throw out a quick reminder to you guys that discount codes for both Sprigs products I’ve reviewed, Earbags and Banjees, are still valid! Check out my reviews if you’re still on the fence – these would make great holiday gifts for a fit friend/family member OR you 😉

Thanks for your fabulous feedback on my wonderful weekend (I don’t think it’s possible to OD on alliteration right?). I did experience some challenges in relation to these good times – a lot of anxiety and guilt over dining out several days in a row. But blogging my experiences focuses my attention on the reasons I’m too blessed to be stressed, and your comments only add to my ability to focus on the passion and peace I feel when I am enjoying myself with my friends.

I have been getting requests ever since I started this blog for a post on my daily salad beast lunches. The night before every workday I pack a delicious, giant spinach-based salad using a MINIMUM of eight ingredients or so. Usually there’s much more.

I spy a salad lunch enjoyed outside!

I spy a salad lunch enjoyed outside!

I truly look forward to my salad lunch every workday and have one on about fifty percent of weekends too, depending on my plans. Making my salad most evenings to grab the following morning is not only smart prep, but it’s almost therapeutic to stand at the counter each night chopping veggies and mixing my beasts into oblivion. I finally am sitting down to write this post and I figure, what better day to hit “publish” than WIAW! I’m thankful to Jenn of Peas and Crayons for making the choice of weekday that I publish this post an easier choice indeed! So how do you make a Cait Plus Ate sensational salad beast? Step one – obtain baby spinach. Of course, you don’t have to use that as your base. My mom prefers romaine, and you could go all fancy and do something like arugula, or go basic and do iceberg lettuce (though this is my number one hated form of “lettuce”). Up to you! The beautiful thing about a homemade salad is how easy it is to make it your own.

Spinach spinach spinach! Just call me Popeye.

Spinach spinach spinach! Just call me Popeye.

Step two – assemble all manner of veggie ingredients. Do not exclude anything just because you think you “can’t” include it in a salad. Pish-posh…for example, my daily inclusion of pickles would be history if I lived by that rule. And that’d be a sad day indeed. Here’s a list of veggies I have used in a salad before, some daily staples and some special items that I may have had in the fridge on a particular night that I opened the door searching for veggies:

  • carrots
  • peppers (green, red)
  • cucumbers
  • pickles (dill, bread & butter)
  • olives (kalamata, garlic-stuffed)
  • tomatoes (regular, sundried)
  • peas (sugar snap peas, cooked)
  • broccoli (cooked)
  • Brussels sprouts (roasted)
  • banana peppers
  • green beans
  • beans (black, chickpeas)
  • eggplant
  • butternut squash
  • coleslaw
  • fruit salsa (not a veggie but goes SO well in salads)
  • salsa (pico or the liquid variety)
  • hummus
Beautiful beautiful rainbow of veggies!

Beautiful beautiful rainbow of veggies!

Step three, pump up your protein. I always have a source of protein, often two, in my salads. It just doesn’t feel like lunch without it and it powers me through the mid-afternoon slump (along with a snack). I often just grab whatever I have in the fridge at the time, which has included leftover:

  • hard boiled eggs
  • turkey bacon, sausage, meatballs, or burger
  • pork
  • grilled chicken
  • bean or chicken chili
  • beans (already mentioned in the veggies section)
  • edamame (shelled or dry-roasted)
  • fish
  • meat-based casserole
  • falafel (I like the Veggie Patch brand)
  • cottage cheese
Bean party!

Bean party!

Step four, finish with fats. The most obvious source of fat in a salad is dressing, but to be honest with you, with all the ingredients I use I find that my salad is plenty moist and I don’t need dressing. It also “keeps” better in the fridge overnight and the next morning without extra moisture. Of course, you can always pack dressing on the side! If I do use dressing, I like anything that ends in “vinaigrette”. My preferred sources of fat though, are non-dressing sources like:

  • nuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • olives (already in the veggie section)
  • goat cheese
  • sunflower seeds

Look at those GREEN BEANS!

Now comes my favorite part. Completely optional step five is…chop into oblivion! The therapeutic part of salad making that I mentioned earlier involves chop chop chopping up my salad into the smaller pieces you can see in the above photos. It gets everything all nice and mixed together and also gives me more pieces of goodies to combine into interesting bites. I like to combine random components of my salad in each bite to test out flavor combos, because I’m a nerd. For example, I recently discovered that butternut squash + turkey bacon = bliss. And now have plans to make a pizza topped with both.

Luckily since I pack my salads, this doesn’t happen to me.

So there you have it…nothing to it really, just use as many ingredients as you can in your salads and the many flavors will combine to create an exciting lunch/dinner/whatever – every bite is different! I love hearing from people that they make salad beasts and think of me.

Ashley's creation looks wonderful!

Ashley‘s creation looks wonderful!

What’s your favorite salad ingredient?

How often do you make your own salads? How often do you order them out?

Do you have any new ingredient ideas for me?

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