Salads are undeniably the most common go-to food for people trying to eat healthy or lose weight. Problem is, many fall into the same ole salad rut. You know what I mean—adding fat-free dressing to a big bowl of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, and shredded carrots. You may have even done this yourself.
Funny enough, a lot of folks adamantly profess that they hate salads. This is not at all surprising to me given the stereotypical “garden” version I just described. Though I’m an absolute sucker for a good salad, if I found myself constantly chomping on bland, boring and flavorless blends day in and day out, I’d probably hate salads too.
Lucky for me, this isn’t at all the case! In fact, if you know me personally or even follow me on social media, you’ve likely recognized that my salad creations are quite flamboyant and far from bland, boring or flavorless. Interestingly, I’ve converted tons of ‘salad haters’ to ‘salad lovers’ with a single creation that’s evolved over the years.
In response to constant requests from friends and followers, here’s the complete recipe for that salad. I’ve actually coined it as “The Ultimate Salad for People Who Hate Salads”. Get ready to take some notes.
What You Need
For the Salad Base
- 4 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, and green)
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 1 cucumber
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 1 Fuji apple
- 1 cup of dried cranberries or Craisins
- Raw or candied walnuts, almonds and/or pecans (totaling 1 cup; see below instructions for ‘candying’)
- 4-5 sprinkles of chia seeds
- Half a cup of Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles (optional)
- 2-4 whole eggs, chopped (optional)
- Pan-fried or oven-baked bacon, chopped into bits (optional; I generally use turkey bacon for flavor, as it contains a bit more salt)
For a Honey-Based Glaze (Optional)
- 3 tablespoons of raw honey
- 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Juice of half an orange
How To Prepare
This salad is incredibly easy to make. But I’ll admit that the actual preparation time is relatively lengthy (generally, a little over an hour). The good news is that once the salad is all put together, it can be eaten for up to three days—that is, depending out how many people you plan to feed. My guys can eat so mine doesn’t fly for more than a day, two tops!
The Salad Base
Start by chopping your peppers, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and apples into bite-sized pieces, and then combine them in a large colander (or similar dish). Rinse and shake the veggies and fruit well for a nice, even mix. Once everything is rinsed and mixed well, transfer the mixture to a large salad bowl, and then let it chill in your fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
The Candied Nuts
Now, you can easily add raw nuts to the finished preparation but I highly recommend taking a little bit more time to ‘candy’ them with my honey-based glaze. The combination of candied nuts, apples and cranberries takes away the need to add dressing. Plus, the ingredients used to make the glaze can greatly enhance the overall nutritional value of the salad.
So, if you’re convinced, the next step is to preheat your oven to about 400°F (204°C).
To prepare the candied nuts, heat the honey in a glass microwavable bowl (covered) until it liquefies (about 30 seconds). Next, add the olive oil, squeeze in the lemon and orange juices, and then reheat the mixture for about 10-20 more seconds. Once all this is done, toss in the nuts, re-cover the bowl and then ‘shake up’ the mixture.
When the ‘glaze’ is evenly distributed, let the mixture sit for about 3-5 minutes and then pour it onto a large piece of foil. You should bend the foil around its edges making it look like a bowl.
After you’ve done this, roast the glazed nuts in your oven for about 7-10 minutes. Be sure to watch them carefully as they’re easy to burn due to the natural sugars contained in the glaze. Once the nuts have candied, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a bowl for cooling.
The Finishing Touches
At this point, the laborsome portion of the preparation is pretty much done. Simply add the cranberries and plain or cooled candied nuts to your chilled veggies and fruits and then top the mixture with sprinkles of chia seeds. The salad itself is large enough for 4-6 generous servings at about 450-475 calories each.
It’s all about your personal preferences from here on out.
This salad can easily be eaten ‘lettuce-less’ but if you prefer to add leafy greens, I highly recommended your doing so on a meal-by-meal basis, as they have a tendency to get soggy with prolonged storage. Some great choices include kale, spinach, mesclun greens and Swiss chard. If you’d rather use ‘traditional’ lettuce, opt for romaine or loose-leaf, as darker lettuces house way more nutrients.
Double your portion sizes and eat less meals and/or store some of the salad base in your fridge to enjoy later. You can also increase the protein content and overall filling effect of this salad by adding a few servings of poultry, seafood or tofu to the mix.
Your options are virtually endless!
For this particular blend, I prefer to add sautéed shrimp, chilled langostino lobster or chopped chicken breast along with chopped boiled eggs and bacon for added protein and flavor, as pictured below.
If you prefer to use dressing, honey mustard or raspberry vinaigrette blends are excellent choices.
With calorie counts ranging anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500, my blends generally provide a day’s supply of veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and protein. However, I only eat one large meal a day so this isn’t a big deal for me. Might sound a bit unorthodox to some but it’s a way of life for me, as I’ve been practicing a lifestyle of intermittent fasting for nearly a decade.
It’s all about doing what works best for you and creating your own nutritious experience!
So there you have it: “The Ultimate Salad for People Who Hate Salads”!
Without a doubt, salads make a great food choice for healthy eaters and weight watchers alike. But they don’t have to be boring. By following this simple recipe and some of the additional tips I’ve included, you’ll get all the daily nutrients you need in a fun and creative way without piling on the empty calories.