Salads can be appetizers, side dishes, but may also constitute a meal on its own. Depending on the purpose of a salad, it will be more or less nutrient and calorie dense.
When planning for my salads, I make sure that they are nice and colorful. I often choose something green, something yellow or orange and something red. Green and red only is also an option.
Dark leaf lettuce,
Red bell pepper,
Tomatoes (2-6 depending on their size, or some cherry tomatoes),
Fresh or dried basil and oregano,
Black pepper or crushed chili (optional).
Chop lettuce and tomatoes, deseed and chop the pepper. Add the dressing of your choice.
Lettuce may be replaced by spinach, arugula, steamed broccoli, kale, zucchini, and/or yellow squash. Red bell pepper may be changed for a green, yellow, or orange bell pepper (keeping in mind that red bell peppers have the highest content of vitamins and minerals), radishes or cucumber, zucchini, or yellow squash (in case the zucchini or the yellow squash are not the main ingredients of the salad).
If you can find non-GMO corn in any store in your area, it is a great salad ingredient, contributing not only to its great taste, but also adding a beautiful color variety.
To make the salads a little sweet, chopped fresh fruit will be good, if you like. Mango, pineapple, or grapefruit are a great choice as well as pomegranate arils. Although pomegranate arils are available packaged, I strongly encourage you to buy the whole fruit and peel it yourself to avoid plastics. If you face difficulties, there are instruction videos available on Youtube about how to peel it.
Some crushed walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocado, or olives are a nice addition. Finely sliced pickles can add to the flavor, as long as you are able to find them without high fructose corn syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, or sugar.
Avoid processed supermarket dressings. If the tomatoes are juicy, no dressings are needed at all, the tomato juice will do the job. If they are not, some lemon, lime, or orange juice (squeezed from the fruit, obviously) is a nice idea. A tablespoon of mustard or apple cider vinegar (must be with the “mother” – the residue on the bottom) is also very good.
Salad as a whole meal
Salads made of vegetables only or of vegetables with a little bit of fruit are low in calories, thus, are not satiating. If you need your salad to be your entire meal, apart from eating a large amount of it, which has unquestionable health benefits, you may choose to add some beans or peas to it.
Any beans or peas may be added to any salad of your choice, the only criteria being your personal preference and choice. Chickpeas are great for salads, as are red kidney beans, black or pinto beans, any of the white beans or lentils. It is a good idea to wash their natural sauce out before adding them to a salad.
You may also add roasted whole grain bread cubes or some cooked grains, such as brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice pasta. In case of a grain salad, greens may be omitted. The vegetables should be chopped a bit finer than for a vegetable salad.
Example of a grain salad: cooked barley, avocado cubes, chopped tomato, fresh cilantro, and hot pepper.
Another example: cooked quinoa, finely chopped tomato, finely chopped cucumber, chopped chive or green onions, sunflower seeds, and parsley leaves.
You may add potato or sweet potato cubes to your salad as well instead of grains or pasta.