More than a month ago I posted the strategy for Building A Balanced Breakfast, now it’s time for the second installment in the series: Building A Balanced Salad. I have included a recipe related to a balanced salad at the bottom of this post, but learning the technique will help you build balanced salads of many varieties customized to your preference. Salads inject a versatile dose of color, flavor, texture, vitamins and variety to your diet. Click To Tweet I’ve also begun to rely on vegan balanced salads throughout my week days to replace animal protein in my diet. I enjoy eating meat and recognize that it has important health benefits (not to mention being easier to digest than than vegetable protein), however, my budget currently cannot sustain pastured meat for every meal. The alternative (rather than support Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation meat)? More salads! Not exactly a hardship… I love to whip up massive ones in my largest mixing bowl and dig in.
So, what are the building blocks of a balanced salad? I’m no expert, but what I prefer in mine includes:
- Protein: In this version of a balanced salad I use yellow split peas boiled until soft. While high in carbohydrate, there are some benefits of peas as a protein source to take into consideration. They’re inexpensive, widely available, and easy to prepare. Peas are comparatively eco-friendly and sustainable to produce, too. With a growing population worldwide and water already a limited resource, pea’s relatively low environmental impact make them an attractive alternative to the more resource-intensive soy and animal protein.1
- Carbs: I’m definitely not afraid of carbs, and feathery, leafy, bitter roughage like arugula paired with plump, juicy, vibrant tomatoes and crisp, sweet, bell peppers = carb-y heaven. When selecting your vegetables, start with a solid selection of your favorites that are a safe bet you’ll enjoy, then experiment with trading a new vegetable that you’re less familiar with into the mix every week. Never be afraid to discover new favorites! And diversity in the food you consume is a great way to ensure that you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients.
- Fat: It’s flavor, baby. It’s a treat to pick out a new store-bought vinaigrette when my bottle gets low (just make sure to check that your store-bought dressings are free of sugar and seed oils!) but it’s also fun to experiment with quickie dressings of my own invention. Check out my super simple recipe for Avocado Jalapeno Lime Crema below. Nuts are also a good source of dietary fat, but add them sparingly as they’re resource-intensive to produce and one of those hyper-palatable foods that it’s easy to overdo. Maybe they’re better as addition in the last category, which is…
- Add-ins: These are the special additions that make the salad a treat. Sprinkle a handful of macadamia nuts on your salad, or a smattering of pomegranate arils. Roasted winter squash leftover from the night before? A cup or so of grilled chicken or ground beef? Include it as an add-in, and savor that special edition salad.
Any other ideas for building a balanced salad? Leave them in the comments below. 🙂
- 1 large avocado
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
- Whirl the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add more water or lime juice if a thinner consistency is preferred.
- Taste, and adjust the salt if desired.