This is It-The Five Step Super FITR Salad!
- (80-100 calories) Start with at least 3-4 cups of greens. Just grab handfuls and throw them in. Lettuce is fine, but so is spinach, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, field greens, anything you find (use iceberg lettuce rarely- it is the least nutritious salad green and it tastes weak, too).
- Add in a cup or more of any other veggies you have on hand- celery, tomatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, peas, etc. Fresh is good, but frozen is fine too, and so is cooked. Fill that bowl- if you want to maintain your healthy weight, you need to enjoy your lifestyle, and that includes eating lots of good food. Finely chopped gives a different mouth-feel than chunks- go for the feel you want each day, switch it up. And try new veggies sometimes, too.
(100 calories) Dense protein or simple carbs. These help you to feel satisfied- they give the “comfort” element to the salad and help you feel full longer. Throw these in on top of the veggies. A few ideas:
– ½ cup of: tofu (prepared any way*), kidney or black beans, couscous, quinoa, or brown rice
-1/3 cup chickpeas
-1/4 to ½ cup cooked whole wheat pasta
-veggie burger, tofurkey, or other processed vegetarian “meat” (less healthy option)
-for non-vegans, ½ cup of chopped meat, fish, or any style egg (less healthy option)
- (100 calories) Foods with healthy fats. These keep you full longer and provide a more satisfying “mouth feel” that we crave. Some ideas:
-2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, peanuts, etc)
-1/2 small avocado, or ¼ cup guacamole
-15 to 20 black olives (that’s a lot-yum!)
-1/4 cup daiya or other vegan shredded cheese
-for non-vegans, 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1/8 cup sour cream (less healthy options)
-1 to 2 tablespoons of storebought dressing (less healthy option), or a much larger amount (and much tastier) homemade dressing*.
- (100-120 calories) Bonus. This is the zing that turns the salad into a luxury. Anything goes here- it is your “flex” calories. You might choose your items based on:
-Theme/taste: Make it a taco salad with greens, leftover veggie chili, beans, salsa, jalapenos, sour cream, and the bonus: 10-12 broken tortilla chips as a garnish. Or, for a sweet theme, use goat cheese and poppy seeds with balsamic vinegar dressing, and bonus blueberries. Make an oriental salad with sesame seeds, snap peas, leftover chik’n and bonus interest: canned mandarin oranges and raisins.
-Color: If your salad looks mostly green and white, add 100 calories of yellow, red, and purple to increase appeal. Try: edible flowers, micro red amaranth, peppers, mini pattypan squash, apricots, seaweed, purple potatoes, grapes, strawberries, goji berries, dried cranberries (beware of added sugar), pomegranate seeds, watermelon, black olives, edamame, red onion, chopped peaches, etc.
-Any other criteria (what you have on hand, what you crave, etc). Pickle slices, croutons, a tablespoon or two of thick dips or sauces (even sweet ones like plum sauce or complex tastes like jalapeno mango jelly), apple slices, 1/2 cup chow mein noodles, deli salads, or for non-vegans, a slice or two of meats. Anything!
Now- Celebrate the lunch and enjoy every bite! Keep crispy items in a separate container and assemble in the big bowl at lunch time. (Tip- You can also add more eye and mouth appeal by changing textures- shredding carrots or spiralizing beets, or adding your leftovers heated up instead of cold). With such a huge and beautiful lunch, I guarantee that lunchmates will be envious. First they will tell you how delicious it looks, then they will wonder how you can eat so much and still lose weight/stay so skinny, then your lunch will become a topic of conversation as everyone checks it out each day. They may even start a fan club and you will have to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Just be sure to wipe your face first.
* Check out other recipes in the blog for ideas for starred items.