Y’all. Memorial Day weekend is this weekend. Crazy. Summer is officially upon us. If you are trying to lose those few extra pounds for swimsuit season and looking to add a few more veggies into your diet, here are a few easy salad recipes to take advantage of the abundant fresh, seasonal produce right now.
When it comes to salads, there are couple things that are a must for me:
- Lots of color = way more appetizing (and instagram-worthy). Plus, the variety of colors means you are getting a variety of nutrients.
- If you want to make a salad a meal, you’ve got to add protein to keep you full. The easiest (and cheapest) ways I’ve found to have this on-hand to add are: pre-cooked hard boiled eggs or shredded chicken – find my two-step chicken crock pot recipe here. Or if you want to be fancy, add grilled wild-caught salmon for some healthy Omega-3s.
If I can, I always try to make my own salad dressing for two very important reasons:
- A store-bought or restaurant dressing can quickly turn your “healthy” salad into a calorie-loaded fat bomb.
- Pre-made dressings are filled with preservatives and vegetable oils. Vegetable/canola oils are full of free radicals that cause serious damage to your cells, meaning that your salad has become nearly as harmful to your health as those french fries you really want to eat instead. Learn more at my favorite doctor’s website here.
Homemade dressings are much easier to make than you’d imagine and if you make more than you’ll need that meal, put the mixture in a mason jar and keep for a week or two in the fridge. Here are a few of my favorite salad & dressing recipes that take 10 minutes or less to prepare:
Strawberry & Pecan – Slice strawberries and add to raw baby spinach. Add pecans (or even better, honey-roasted pecans) for some crunch. Top with either goat or feta cheese for some tangy-ness. Another great item to add to this salad: snap peas. Make a simple balsamic vinaigrette for this one; it pairs perfectly with the strawberries. Put the following ingredients in a jar with lid and shake: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp raw honey, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, salt & pepper to taste.
Peach & Goat Cheese (pictured above) – Slice some fresh peaches and lay on a bed of mixed greens. Add some goat cheese crumbles and walnuts for crunch. Top with a peach-basil vinaigrette: 2 parts extra-virgin olive oil to 1 part peach vinegar (find this at your local farmer’s market – I get it from Hill Country Olive Co.). Whisk with chopped basil and a pinch of sea salt. Variation: use other flavored vinegar to mix it up.. some of my favorites are the pineapple, pear & lemon.
Grapefruit & Avocado – Peel and slice half of a ruby-red grapefruit and an avocado. Pair with mixed greens and add sunflower seeds. Add thinly sliced cucumber for extra crunch. This is best with a sweet honey mustard dressing: Mix 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp raw honey with 1/3 cup olive oil. Add dash of salt, pepper, & garlic powder.
Caesar Salad – Chopped romaine with cherry tomatoes, topped with grated Parmesan cheese. The easiest way to make homemade Caesar dressing is by blending 1 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp each of: garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. I often add a few Italian herbs from my garden to the mix – rosemary, thyme, oregano. To make it creamy, add 2 Tbsp of plain Greek yogurt.
Mexican Heirloom Tomato – Nothing beats fresh heirloom tomatoes… slice one and season with a pinch of sea salt. Add with sliced avocado to an herb salad mix. Shredded raw cheddar cheese is a perfect topping for additional flavor, and a few tortilla chip crumbles for crunch. The dressing for this one is one of my favorites – cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Mix 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 pressed garlic clove with 1/2 cup olive oil. Add dash of salt & pepper.
Happy Summer & Bon Appétit!