One of my most difficult challenges while trying to lose weight is eating healthy but also eating a variety. With my busy lifestyle and often drained mental state, I often eat what’s easy and what doesn’t take a lot of thought. That’s why I made so many freezer meals for after the birth of my second child. My husband lot a bunch of weight right before we met by following the exact same pattern week after week. He worked out three or more times a week. And he ate the same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY: oatmeal, cooked chicken with raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, a protein shake, baked tilapia with cooked veggies, and a spoonful or two of peanut butter for dessert. He rarely strayed from that menu. It had some flaws if you ask me, 1. Where’s the fruit? and 2. BORING!!! I’ve tried to implement similar rigidness in my healthier diet goals but I just can’t. After eating the same thing two days in a row, even if it’s only one meal such as lunch, I lose my mind and immediately binge on something not healthy. And I’m not talking a “There was probably a slightly healthier option of that” kind of meal, I’m talking a “Holy Crap! If I eat this meal so much as one more time in the next 2 years I will surely have a heart attack/be diagnosed with diabetes/die” kind of whammy of a meal. Delicately said, I need variety in my life.
Enter The Big Ass Salad.
I stole this term my Mark Sisson founder of Marks Daily Apple. He has a great post about salads that I have recently been referring to.
Salads are great because variety is basically their only criteria. And if you’re talking green salads (which I am) then the only criteria is that they have a leafy green base. And luckily even leafy greens provide plenty of variance. So lets start there.
I usually fill a large dinner plate with Organic Baby Spring Mix
Disclaimer: Once my garden starts producing and I get a chance to get to picking I’ll be using my own kale and swiss chard. Though I’ll probably still switch it up by adding some organic store bought greens at times.
And then come the veggies! I like to buy a few staples such as avocado (which, yes I know, is actually a fruit), green peppers, carrot sticks, peas, and tomatoes. Then I toss in some onion on my husbands salad as I don’t prefer them on mine. And then I just buy whatever other veggies that I find either at the farmer’s market or local grocery. I don’t always put everything I have on one salad either. Every now and then I’ll keep it simple with just a few veggies. But more often then not I just pile everything right on there!
Next comes the protein. Which I don’t consider a must by any means. As the daughter of a vegetarian I have subsided off my fair share of meals that have no to little protein. Though there are, of course, plenty of non-mean based protein sources. I usually put baked or grilled chicken on my salad. Or else I’ll due canned tuna but I don’t like that as much on a salad. And when I have hard boiled eggs I’ll cut up one of those puppies and toss it on with the chicken or by itself.
And then come the “treats” as I like to call them. These are items that should not comprise the bulk of the salad but are nice additions that add flavor and fat. I like dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds. I’ve also used pine nuts, fresh fruit such as thinly sliced apples or pears, canned beans, and shredded cheese.
When it comes to dressing, sometimes I’m ambitious and make my own and other times I just use a healthy(ish, considering it’s store bought) bottle from the local grocery.
Here’s another fun Infographic for salad making.
So there you have it! Salads are healthy and are also a very easy way to implement variety into a meal without using much highly valued brain power. The perfect mid-day healthy life style meal option!