WIAW: Sensational Salads Tutorial

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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?

54 Responses to "WIAW: Sensational Salads Tutorial"

Add Comment
  1. Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots

    December 5, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I lovee putting as much as possible into my salads!!! My favorite thing is to use hummus as dressing, since I am not a dressing person unless its straight up balsamic its a great addition to salads!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      I agree, I love how hummus makes a great dressing sub and adds so much protein!

      Reply
  2. Tracy (@Tracy_Nutrition)

    December 5, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I always think adding a fruit can really make a salad more appealing. Like chopped apple, some pomegranates seeds, some red berries/grapes. I eat so much spinach as well but sometimes try to mix it up with rocket/kale leaves

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      The chopped apple def gives that nice crunch. What is a rocket leaf?!

      Reply
  3. cleanfoodcreativefitness

    December 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    What a collection of salads! I love putting fruit and some cooked veggies in my salads and topping with goat cheese of course!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      Cooked veggies are great if I have them leftover! Especially roasted Brussels.

      Reply
  4. hyedi

    December 5, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    My favorite combinations are either hard boiled egg, blueberries, walnuts and chicken or goat cheese and pear. yum!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      I adore goat cheese and pear! And walnuts too!

      Reply
      • hyedi

        December 6, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        yummm. I think a trip to the grocery store for these ingredients is in order!

        Reply
  5. Sarah

    December 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Eeee! So happy you posted this! I might have to make a salad for lunch today!!…Time to raid the kitchen.

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      Hahha aw glad to know I inspired it. Send me a pic!!

      Reply
  6. molly @ heart, sole & cereal

    December 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    love this post! i eat salad beasts all the time although i tend to not use nearly as many ingredients because i’m kind of lazy but i REALLY love the idea of chopping it all up together. i love chopped salads, i don’t know why i don’t do that on my own…going to start immediately. i agree with you on the dressing – i like balsamic vinegar as a dressing but other than that i pretty much use cottage cheese, hummus, salsa, or the rest of the good stuff in my salads and that’s all the “dressing” i need.

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      I recommend the chopping, it’s fun and seriously soothing to me haha. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy!

      Reply
  7. GOtheXtraMile

    December 5, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    I honestly LOVE salad. It’s a way to throw a bunch of stuff together and eat it!! LOL at the picture!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM

      Right?! I feel like even my other meals are forms of salad because I chop it all up together and often eat it out of a bowl. Lettuce just may not be involved.

      Reply
  8. pickyrunner

    December 5, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Wow that looks like such a good salad! I’m actually not a big salad eater but I eat all the veggies separate. I love how many ingredients you put in it to make it an actual meal, not just some lettuce :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM

      Of course, a salad with jhust lettuce is not a meal, which is why I (usually) don’t trust restaurants to make them for me :P

      Reply
  9. Alex @ therunwithin

    December 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I miss banana peppers, when I was in college i always put them on my salad. salsa is a must on every salad, no matter what kind

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      Ole! Haha and I discovered banana peppers in college, I’d throw them on my salads at the Student Union salad bar that I worked at, it was a risk-free way to try new foods and I ended up liking most of them!

      Reply
  10. Haley @ The Saucy Apple

    December 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    I love this post! I was wondering what kind of salad you must be eating when you professed your love on Twitter yesterday. :)

    For some reason, I’m horribly shy when it comes to salads. I LOVE ordering them at restaurants, but I’m just highly doubtful that I can make one taste just as good.

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      So funny because I’m the exact opposite! I never get htem out for fear they will suck but I have endless faith in my ability to make them at home. You should totally go for it! Use my post! ;)

      Reply
  11. Lisa

    December 5, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Oh boy, now I”m craving salad in a major way! Yours looks so good! I feel like the best salads I make are when I just throw everything in a container ha. It’s always so random, but I love all the different flavors and textures. Love YOU!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      LOVE YOU I can’t believe I never answered your last email. I stink. We need to just have that goddamn skype date. The fact that you Skyped Heather last night while I was on the phone with her was totally the universe saying SKYPE WITH LISA.

      Reply
      • fortheloveofkale

        December 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        agreed!

        Reply
  12. Heather @ For the Love of Kale

    December 5, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, I particularly loved your “pish-posh: addition. I can hear you saying that. Haha! We’re twinnies in this way. Salad all day errrday. :-)

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      I was obviously using a British accent as I said it.

      Reply
  13. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    December 5, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    My fave salad by far – Salad Nicoise: Eggs, Tuna, Green Beans, Olives, Capers, Butter Lettuce – YUM!!! :) Man, you have me craving this salad now Caitlin! LOL, I guess there could be worse things, right?

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      I LOVE ahi tuna in salads. That sounds so wonderful! I forgot about capers.

      Reply
  14. Life's a Bowl

    December 5, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I heart veggies hard core! Romaine + spinach + slaw is my go-to. Kitchen sink style salads are my fave since they have a little bit of everything in them… Especially when there’s a mix of hot + cold, like a warm bean burrito on top of spinach + bell peppers + olives topped with some salsa and guac or even a runny egg on top of an assortment of veggies sprinkled with some parm cheese!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      My mom likes the romaine/spinach mix too! I love hot and cold also. Whenever I eat my lunch salad its all cold but at the whole foods hot/cold bars I love to mix it up. I seriously need to do this runny egg thing I keep seeing.

      Reply
      • Life's a Bowl

        December 5, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        It’s awesome! I’m not a big fan of dressing, load up the mustard + salsa + vinegar, but no oil [don't like the slimy texture], so the runny egg is a nice touch ;)

        Reply
  15. Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale

    December 5, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    It always floors me when people say that their salads don’t keep them full. Those “salads” aren’t salad, they’re rabbit food. THESE are salads!! Love them! Roasted beets are my favourite salad topping. Along with sweet potato, hard boiled eggs, and pumpkin & sunflower seeds … Mmmm. :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 5, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      OMG how could I forget beets! Prob b/c I never have them at home but my favorite farmers market has a sugar-free jarred variety I like to buy in the summertime.

      Reply
  16. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    December 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    While I love salads, I find I don’t crave them as much in the winter! I still eat a meal salad a few times a week though. Lately I’ve been liking veggie burger salads (romaine, a chopped veggie burger, honey mustard, pickles, banana peppers and cheese). Also a big fan of spinach + sweet potato + hard boiled eggs + goat cheese. Easily one of my favourites!

    With you on the iceberg lettuce…that is not lettuce. It is water in chewable form. No flavour whatsoever!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      I really like veg burgers but haven’t found a storebought brand I enjoy! Honey mustard in a salad sounds good though. Sweet potato + egg, I keep seeing it around, dammit I need to do it!

      Reply
  17. sarah

    December 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Ah , I love posts like this. A tutorial by another foodie, on how they create their beastly, kitchen sink salads- what is not to love?!?
    I’m also enjoying your take on WIAW these past weeks:).

    Everything you’ve mentioned I think are perfect salad ingredients! (Minus the olives. Simply the word ‘olive’ makes me want to gag).
    Roasted/ baked/marinated tofu or tempeh, CANDIED PECANS(!)and dried/fresh fruit are other favourites.
    Super ripe, creamy avocado, or tahini, with nutritional yeast are dressing-of-sorts that I’m obsessed with right now. Ooh & a sprinkling of crunchy, nutty hemp seeds! Yup, they’re good too.

    Man am I in the mood for a salad now!
    Xxx

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 6, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Thanks Sarah! I like how it’s a bit diff from the “what I ate this day” thing and I also try not to pay too much attn to what other people eat in a day because it puts me in a comparison trap. I wouldn’t want to facilitate the same thing for someone else. One day I may to a traditional WIAW but for now I’ll keep it interesting.
      I used to hate olives! Now I love them. There may be hope for you yet….
      Wow, those are a ton of ingredients I haven’t used. Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve never tried tahini. I love nutritional yeast on kale chips but have never bought the yeast to add to my own stuff. I’ve also never had hemp seeds!

      Reply
  18. aburgwin

    December 5, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Great post! Will try asap!
    http://aburgwin.wordpress.com

    Reply
  19. Asuma

    December 6, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    Aaaaaah the post I was waiting for!!!!! :D Everything tastes better with edamame and beans. Also, I am definitely a baby spinach girl when it comes to salads!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 6, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      EVERYTHING you are so right. Spinach twins! Thank you for reading, my fellow Popeye.

      Reply
  20. Sara

    December 6, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Ahhh your salad beasts always look so delicious! I’ll have to make one of my own, after I FINALLY go grocery shopping that is.

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 6, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Maybe I should’ve made that step one! :P

      Reply
  21. Connie Du

    December 6, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    I love chopped salads!! They somehow make salads 100x better. I haven’t been in the mood for a salad in a long time, but I think that’s because I haven’t really liked any dressings recently. Your salads look pretty bomb though..way more exciting than mine with like 3 ingredients. I’ll come back to this post the next time I make one..you’ve got some great ideas! :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      No dressing for me nad I still love my salads! Let me know if my post ends up helping you out – I love knowing I inspire people to get their salad on.

      Reply
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  23. PavementRunner

    December 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    nope. none of it. not one. HA! a post that didn’t get me. I do not like salads…. i will eat a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, walnuts, cranberries, strawberries, etc. But not with lettuce. Pass and pass.

    I lived and survived this post. Yay me!

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Hahaha good for you but I’m going to NYC tomorrow so there may be more torture waiting for you next week…

      Reply
  24. beautyinstrengthxox

    December 9, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    I love this post Cait! Avocado is definitely one of my go to add ins for a salad. It is a bit heartier than other fruits and it provides healthy fat.

    Reply
    • Caitlin

      December 9, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      Thanks girly! I am hoping to inspire people who think salads cannot make a meal!

      Reply
      • beautyinstrengthxox

        December 10, 2012 at 10:27 PM

        Absolutely! So many people feel salads can’t be hardy and are “diet” foods. Great job!

        Reply
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