I love big salads.  They are a great way to get in tons of fresh veggies, good fats and protein and they don’t weigh you down like heavy meals can. They are energizing and always make me feel great!

In order to make a salad filling enough for a meal, though, you’ve got to be sure that you incorporate the right mix of ingredients: lots of fiber-filled fresh vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and a combination that tastes great!

My Tips for Building a Healthy Salad: 

Green Base: I like to have a few varieties of greens – something crunchy and something dark!

  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Herb Salad Mix
  • Dark Greens (Kale, Chard, etc.)

Veggie Toppings: 

  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Roasted Veggies (Squash, Sweet Potato)

Protein/Fat/Flavor Toppings: 

  • Lean Protein: Beans, Chicken, Fish, Tofu, Eggs, Cottage Cheese
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, Nuts, Hemp Seeds, Olives
  • Flavor: Cheese (I like to use a really flavorful cheese like Feta, Goat, Blue, etc), Fresh Herbs, Fresh or Dried Fruits


  • Bottled Dressing (like Annie’s or some of the other organic/natural brands)
  • Simple: drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper
  • Favorite Vinaigrette: chopped shallots + olive oil + lemon juice or vinegar + mustard + salt & pepper
What are your favorite salad combinations, I’m always looking for healthy, delicious and satisfying salads! 

23 Comments (Reply )

  1. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 8:05 am

    I love a veggie burger for a protein source – a warm component makes salads seem more like a meal!


    • Emily
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 9:03 am

      Yes, I love that idea! I have some Sunshine burgers in my freezer!


  2. Faith @ for the health of it
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    The fat really is the key to making a salad an entree salad instead of a side dish – and a better quality lettuce than iceberg!


  3. Corinne
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    I love big salads for dinner, even during the winter! I made a chili lime shrimp salad last week (check it out on my blog!) that was hearty and light at the same time. If that makes sense …lol


  4. Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 8:49 am

    great salad guide! lately i’ve been grating carrots instead of chopping them to make it a little different, but to make salads special i also love to make my own croutons. they are definitely better/healthier than storebought.


  5. Mercedes@Satisfy My Sweet Tooth
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 9:18 am

    Your photos are so beautiful Emily! I love big salads also. One of my favorites is a southwestern salad with romaine, shredded chicken, sliced bell pepper, black beans, cheese and a simple dressing made from combining salsa and light ranch dressing!


    • Emily
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 9:36 am

      Thanks Mercedes! I haven’t had a southwest salad in a long time, love them!


  6. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    Love this post! I go hot and cold with salads, but if it’s a big salad with all the fixin’s then I am in :) My favorite is a spring mix salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries and a homemade balsamic-honey-mustard vinaigrette!


  7. Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    Yum! This salad looks amazing! I really love all salads as long as there is no ice berg lettuce and lots of dark leafy greens! You have such a wonderful blog! Have a great week!


    • Emily
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:26 am

      Aw, thanks! :)
      I’m with you on the iceberg – unless it is a wedge – every now and then they are SO good!


  8. Jen @ Jen and Company
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

    I’m eating a giant salad as I read this. I bring a ton of produce to work on MOnday and eat salads for lunch most days. I will also take whatever we had the night before and eat it over greens the next day. Things like chili, pasta, grains and beans – you name it, you can put it on greens! :)


  9. lynn @ the actor's diet
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

    you should check out this site – salad pride – it’s only salads! http://saladpride.blogspot.com/


  10. Tracey
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    I love a good salad! I like to load up on all sorts of veggies. I’m not a fan of meat in my salads so I’ve started adding egg to get some protein.


  11. sarah @ sarah learns
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    any salad with roasted veggies + goat cheese is a winner for me. with that combo i usually go with a balsamic dressing & then all is happy in my world. :)


  12. Asmita
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

    I love eating salads but just too lazy to make them. I love this post, getting charged up and motivated to introduce more salads in my diet.


  13. Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    I love Mexican salads because usually I can get away with hardly any dressing. Just some fresh salsa and a little sour cream over grilled shrimp, avocado, and black beans … all on a bed of fresh spinach. perfect! Oh, and I guess I crush tortilla chips over the top, too. :)


  14. Nikki
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    This inspired me to stop at the store to get stuff for salads this week! Thanks Emily! Keep enjoying CA!!


  15. Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

    Your salad is GORGEOUS!!! I absolutely adore pairing chickpeas and sunflower seeds on my salads — the flavor combination is INCREDIBLE!


  16. Callie
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    Love this post! I get my salads mostly from my college cafeteria salad bar, but luckily the options aren’t that bad!
    My salad combo looks like this: spinach, cucumber, green pepper, tofu, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, black olives, and a drizzle of red wine vinegar.
    Its not too light or too heavy, and I randomly threw this together one day and loved the flavor combo.


    • Emily
      Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:52 am

      I LOVED the salad bar at my college cafeteria! I miss having someone else prep all the veggies! :) Your combo sounds great!


  17. Anna @ hiddenponies
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    I love big salads, and always wish I had a better stocked fridge for them! I like anything with a good mix of salty/sweet/crunchy/soft, but chicken caesar is probably still my fave!


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    Jan 23, 2012 @ 8:50 am

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