For the longest time, I hated salads. I found them boring and lacking anything that really dazzled my taste buds. Eating salads felt more like a chore to be completed rather than a nourishing meal that I looked forward to fueling my body with. Turns out, I was eating all the wrong kinds of salads.
If you Google the word “salad” (yes, I totally did that), you get the definition of “a cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients.” That seemed like a pretty open-ended description of what you can pile onto your plate when creating a salad, so I banished the idea that a salad had to simply be a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, and other such stuff. I found myself starting to experiment with textures, flavors, and colors (we do eat with our eyes too, after all). I took note of which ingredients were more of an acid, which were a base, and how you needed both to create balance and incredible flavor in a truly wonderful salad. Suddenly, I found myself looking forward to a plate piled high with salad ingredients instead of seeing it as a “must-do of a healthy lifestyle.”
The best part about salads in my book is (other than getting oodles of raw fruits and veggies into one’s diet in a wonderfully delicious way) is that they are ridiculously easy and fast to throw together. Plus, you can make them to fit your taste preference. You don’t have to turn the oven on if you don’t want to. If you don’t like one ingredient, you can leave it out without it messing up your dinner… or add a different ingredient that you think would be fabulous in the mix.
Since reprogramming my brain to see salads as an endless possibility of flavor combinations, I have created some salads that I just can’t get enough of. This Summer Smoked Salmon Salad with Quick Dijon Lemon Dressing is, hands down, easily one of my favorite creations and a salad I make again and again. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory, while filling you up with healthy protein and nutrient dense plant goodness. It is the perfect salad to make for a picnic at the beach, a summer potluck with friends, or one an evening when it is simply too hot to dream of turning your oven on.
Kid-Friendly & Selective Eater Adaptations
- Deconstruct. As you are arranging the main salad, simply arrange the components of the salad on another plate separately. Children want to be able to see all the pieces of their meal and sometimes don’t like them touching. Simply separating the salad ingredients on a plate for those for those who feel iffy about the whole salad may entice them to try some new healthy foods.
- Add Familiar Ingredients. There is no right or wrong way to do a salad. Hate blueberries? Substitute or add raspberries or grapes! Not the biggest baby spinach fan? Romaine lettuce will be just as amazing. Make this recipe fit your family’s personal eating style and preferences!
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
4oz wild smoked salmon
2 Persian cucumbers
3-4 big handfuls of baby spinach
¾ cup fresh blueberries
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl or on a large platter, combine the salad ingredients. You can gently toss to mix or arrange in whatever manner you like.
2. In a small bowl or large measuring cup (this makes for easy pouring), combine the dressing ingredients. Use a fork or small, whisk the ingredients together for about 60 seconds.
3. Pour dressing over salad right before serving and enjoy immediately.
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