When we say ‘salad’, we tend to think bowl of greens, or crunchy green and yellow vegetables, or both, tossed with a dressing and served as a prelude, side, or even main course of a meal.
This is limited salad thinking. Set yourself free. Here’s how.
How to think outside the salad bowl
Often while prepping our lunch soup, sandwich, wrap, salad, or veggie burger, I’ll start in on some vegetables straight out of the fridge. By the time everything is officially ready to serve for lunch, I’ll have noshed on at least 2 big carrots, 1/4 of a head of cabbage, or a few chunks of sweet bell pepper or sugar snap peas.
There’s a salad. It just didn’t look like one. ‘Salad’ doesn’t have to mean all prepped up and pretty in a bowl.
Salad stretched out in the hour before dinner
As another example of thinking outside the salad bowl, here’s how today’s dinner ‘salad’ unfolded:
4:00 p.m.: Hammock date, with a plate of toasted lavash squares (flat bread that I cut into squares and pan toasted) piled with pico de gallo – see snapshot above.
4:30: Bowl of sugar snap peas
5:00: Grilled eggplant burgers with quartered campari tomatoes and corn on the cob.
Pico de gallo + sugar snap peas + campari tomatoes + romaine in the bun with the veggie burger = big bowl of salad.
Next time a salad seems like just too much trouble to make, remember it is simply raw veggies of different colors that you pile in a bowl and then call ‘salad’. You can eat them out of order, peppered throughout the day, or spread out over an expanded dinner hour. Maybe your salad just comes in a different outfit.
Another plus about salad grazing in this fashion is that you take advantage of pre-loading your meal with the less calorie-concentrated green and yellow vegetables, a proven strategy for driving down the overall calorie consumption during the meal that follows. You’ve made it easier on yourself and you’ve practiced a healthy, slimming strategy. Bonus points.
What are your ideas for thinking outside the traditional bowl when it comes to salad? Please share your thoughts below!
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Those are all great ideas, Lani! I never used to like salad, but lately I have figured out that what I really didn’t like was the strong-flavored dressings I was using. These days I leave my salad ingredients in larger pieces, skip the dressing, and eat the salad as finger food. Maybe with a dish of pico on the side. And if I’m out on the road somewhere and want a snack, I head for the produce department and look for a bag of snap peas or something else sweet and crunchy: baby carrots, butternut squash cubes, anything that is pre-washed and ready to go. The unadorned, fresh flavors of vegetables are delightful.
Hey Cyn! I like your thinking and thank you SO much for sharing your ideas, I know they will be helpful to others as you demonstrate that salad can, indeed, come in different outfits. Brilliant!
That was really helpful for traveling, which we’re doing soon. Thanks! And thanks, Lani, for the encouragement to eat raw. I just prefer my veggies stir-fried–in nothing but seasonings– and find it hard to make myself eat them raw. I’m going to go fix a big pot of soup–and you know what I’ll be doing while I cook!
Lois – stir-fry (I actually call it steam-fry, to differentiate from oil-prepared) is such a good preparation method and I do it all the time too. So, if you can sneak in some ‘raw’ bites while you prep, so much the better and you can proceed ‘guilt-free’ about ‘no salad’. Thanks Lois!
Is it ok to leave the lid off and just keep stirring occasionally? It gives more of the texture I like rather than steaming, but maybe I’m losing too many nutrients??
Absolutely Lois – as long as you are there to monitor you can keep the stir-fry going, and actully even with the lid off it is a steam fry because it’s hot water not oil BUT we can call it whatever you want! What I like about this method is that you get away from just ‘steamed veggies’ which I really enjoy – more savory and better textured. I wouldn’t worry about losing the nutrients as long as you are eating your veggies. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Ok, thanks!! Sometimes the trees are too big to see the woods! 🙂
I’m just glad we’re on the same team Lois – it helps to have friends assist in navigating the woods!
My friend Cynthia introduced me to your site. My problem and my husband’s problem is to gain weight, not lose it.
Hi! Thanks for your note. Though in the minority, I understand your challenge is just as problematic. When trying to gain on a plant-based diet, a good strategy is to increase the consumption of calorie concentrated whole foods. This would be dried grains and their products, more starchy vegetables, and if your health supports it, a freer hand with nuts and seeds, as well as calorie concentrated fruits.
Lani, this was so helpful! I often feel like I “should” be having more salad. It’s not that I don’t like raw veggies combined in the traditional way. And it’s not that I find them time-consuming to prepare. It’s usually because after preparing my main dishes (a hot one-pot meal chock full of cooked veggies and a starch) or a plate of beans and rice, I simply don’t crave or desire the addition of a “salad”. So your post has given me the idea now that I can incorporate more raw veggies in per-dinner snacks and also as bits and pieces to my main meal. This seems so obvious and simple – but I didn’t think of it. I am still fairly new to the plant based diet (only a couple months in) so I am definitely still trying things out and learning! But I love it SO MUCH. So glad to have found your website – you are a great inspiration.
Teresa – you made my day! Something that in retrospect may seem so simple, life-changing even – what a relief! I love that you are enjoying your journey – I think of it as an adventure and you will keep learning tips and tricks and insights along the way. And you’re right, cleaning up a carrot and and grabbing a few sugar snap peas is a WHOLE lot easier at times than making a ‘salad’ – it’s just in a different outfit! Thanks for your post.
Please give me your recipe for those delicious looking crackers up at the top of this page under the red salad. =)
Clara Mae – it’s easier than you think! This is whole grain lavash bread from Trader Joe’s – I toast it on the cooktop – just drape the whole thing over a pan – and then cut it into squares for the plate. Do you have a TJs nearby? Any whole grain flat bread would do – just check that there isn’t added fat. Crackers have added fat, so this way you can make your own ‘crisp’ without the fat.
oh all great ideas as usual Lani, i am a huge veggie eater and not so much into salad so what i do is so that i do have raw foods every day i stirfry my veggies and throw in a bowl with some sliced snow peas, and cherry tomatoes, baby beets and then mix in a chopped orange and its juice for the dressing and heaps of pepper and serve it on a huge plate of salad greens, that way i am still having my hot veggies but with some raw salad as well, he he a happy compromise, cheers Anna
Here’s a quick tip that I used just this morning. I was putting my salad together to bring to work today for lunch – luckily, as is my usual plan, all the fresh greens were cleaned and cut up – ready to go. This bunch was turnip greens, beet greens and romaine. However, I didn’t have any of my usual toppings at the ready – zucchini, broccoli, etc. So instead I opened a bag of frozen veggies and beans and dumped half of it onto my greens. The frozen veggies thawed out during the morning and now I am enjoying a very fresh, crisp salad. Yum!
Nancy – how innovative! Plus you kept your salad ‘internally refrigerated”. You go! thanks for sharing.
Wow. The new site design looks great. When I first linked from your e-mail, I got no pictures. My reaction was, classic but I need a picture to connect with. Well, when the site was fully loaded, needless to say, pictures were not a problem. it looks great, but even more, it draws you in. I’m anxious to read the articles on chocolate addiction and your trip to Farm Sanctuary. I just read his book recently. Can’t wait to see yours, because you’re one of the only plant-based gurus that stresses the importance of exercise. It’s so important.
Anyway, thank you.
Thank you for such a wonderful message. I am so glad you like the new site. I’m concerned that you weren’t able to view all more quickly though! Does this happen on other sites too? Or was it the home page – what page were you loading that took time? Please let me know when you get a minute. So glad you got Gene’s book! I admire him and his work so much, and it’s an honor to call him my friend.
And as for your comments about Journey, THANK you! There are some very unique qualities of the book, and you’ve nailed one of them. Exercise is so important for what it does for your brains! Along with the rest of our body, of course. Yet this is what I dive into in Journey – how essential physical activity is for making healthy lifestyle change. You’ll love the section, I’m certain of it!
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and for your enthusiasm!