One quick and healthy meal is the magic salad. The salad isn’t really “magic.” The name just shows that by adding leftovers and canned or cooked frozen foods to basic lettuces, you can enjoy a different salad every day the week.
All items in a salad should be “bite sized.” The ideal salad does not require the use of a knife.
Healthy Ingredients List for Quick and Healthy Meal: The Magic Salad
Before making any salad, stock your kitchen with the proper salad making ingredients.
Ideally, purchase lettuce that is local to your area, when it’s in season. The next best choice is lettuces grown organically. Bagged lettuces have experienced cleanliness issues, and are also much more expensive than buying whole lettuce heads, or loose leaf lettuce.
The most versatile lettuce to purchase is Romaine Lettuce. Also purchase a small amount of raw baby spinach, or mixed greens, to add color, flavor and variety to the salad.
Toss any salad lightly with salad dressing before serving, or serve salad dressing on the side in a separate cup.
Honey Mustard Dressing – can be bought or made with honey, spicy mustard and an oil/vinegar base.
Italian Dressing – Italian dressing is a staple and a must-have for salads. Italian dressing can also be the base of many other homemade salad dressings.
Oil and Vinegar – Your favorite canola or grapeseed oil, plus a white vinegar, or balsamic vinegar make a good base for many dressings.
Sweet Dressing – Purchase a sweet dressing for use in fruit-based summer salads.
Also purchase any other dressings that you enjoy, and do not know how to make at home.
Traditional Salad Vegetables
Many different vegetables can be added to salads.
Traditional salad vegetables include onions, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Cucumbers – One complaint with traditional cucumbers is that they cause indigestion. It is not the actual cucumber that is the cause, it is the seeds. If this is a problem, purchase a seedless cucumber instead, which does not cause indigestion.
Onions – Thinly-sliced purple onions add color and flavor to salad, when used in moderation. When making salad for more the family, or a group, keep the onion slices on the top of the salad.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes are another traditional salad item. Fresh tomatoes may be sliced or diced. Whole or halfed cherry tomatoes may also be used.
More Healthy Salad Vegetables
Less traditional healthy vegetables can also be added to salads to increase your salad repertoire.
Asparagus, roasted – Asparagus that has been boiled, roasted or grilled for dinner can also find its way into a healthy salad.
Beets – fresh and cooked beets, or even canned beets can be sliced and added to salads.
Broccoli – Add steamed broccoli florets, or purchase shredded Broccoli Slaw.
Carrots – The easiest way to add carrots to a salad is to shred the carrots with a vegetable peeler.
Green Beans, fresh – Left over fresh, not canned green beans also make a healthy addition to salads. Raw green beans can provide a crisp crunchiness.
Peppers – Red, yellow or green peppers can be added to salads for color, fiber, and for vitamins.
Water chestnuts – Canned water chestnuts add unexpected crunch to a salad. The understate flavor of the water chestnuts will not overwhelm the other salad ingredients.
Healthy and Crunchy Add-ins:
Almonds – Slivered almonds add nutrients and crunch to a salad.
Cashews – Soft cashew nuts can be added to salads, for those who are not prone to migraines.
Sesame Seeds – Unsalted and unroasted or “raw” sesame seeds can be added to salads or salad dressings.
Walnuts – Raw, shelled walnuts can be used whole, halfed, or chopped. Walnuts may also be roasted before adding to salads.
Olives, green, black, Greek, you could add a different type of olive a day for a different tasting salad.
Beans and Legumes – Add drained chick peas, kidney beans, white beans or black beans to a salad.
Cheese – Add one or one and half slices of American cheese, or 1/8 cup or less of shredded cheeses including an Italian blend or Mexican blend. Or add shredded feta cheese.
Deli Meats – Lean turkey breast, lean ham, or all natural roast beef
Egg Whites – Add hard boiled egg whites to the salad. Cook a couple of extra at breakfast. Use them the next day in a salad, for variety.
Leftover Cooked Meats – Any skinless meat with the bones removed can be used in a salad. Last night’s chicken breast or steak can be chopped and added to a salad.
Tuna fish – Drained tuna fish can be enjoyed in salad, without adding mayonnaise.
Apples – Chop, dice or slice any kind of apple to add to salad. Peel or leave the peel on to taste. Apples should be eaten soon after cutting, unless the knife or the apple have been rubbed with lemon juice, which keeps the apple from premature browning.
Berries – Delicate raspberries or blackberries should only used to top a salad, unless you want them to burst open. Sliced strawberries are also afresh and colorful addition to a summery salad.
Grapes – Green or red grapes, whole or chopped add a refreshing burst to summer salads. Also consider raisins.
Olives – Add any variety of black or green olives to a healthy salad.
Pepperoncini – Add to salads to give a real bite.
Quick and Healthy Meal Salad Recipes:
The Original Magic Salad: Romaine lettuce, mixed greens, one slice of cut American cheese, a handful of sunflower seeds, one slice of deli turkey breast, Poppyseed Dressing. Variation: left-over roasted chicken, or skinless chicken breast
Bean Salad: Finely chopped romaine lettuce with kidney beans, chick peas, chopped fresh green beans, diced purple onions and Italian dressing.
Cashew Chicken Salad: Mixed greens, chopped roast chicken, halved cashews, shredded carrots, shredded broccoli, peanut dressing.
Cobb Style: Finely chopped tomatoes, egg whites, turkey bacon, onions, served on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Greek: Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, black olives, sliced onions, tomatoes, green peppers, topped with a Greek dressing or vinaigrette.
Happy Vegetable Salad: Romaine lettuce, roasted asparagus, broccoli florets, fresh green beans, artichoke hearts, a vinaigrette.
Hearty Steak Salad: Mixed greens tossed with freshly grilled steak, grilled red peppers or any other grilled vegetables (no dressing needed).
Italian Salad: Romaine lettuce, red pepper, black or green olives, sliced ham, pepperoncini, Italian dressing or oil/vinegar mix.
Mexican Salad: Romaine lettuce topped with taco-seasoned ground beef, beef strips or chicken; add shredded Mexican cheese and avocado to taste; use a salsa dressing.
Oriental Salad: Spinach, sliced almonds, water chestnuts, and mandarin oranges, topped with sesame dressing.
Shredded Carrot Salad: Shredded carrots, raisins, almonds and dressing
Spinach Salad: Spinach, hard boiled egg whites or chick peas and turkey bacon, drizzled with warm honey mustard dressing.
Summer Salad: Mixed greens, chopped walnuts, sliced strawberries, a sweet dressing.
Waldorf-Inspired Salad: Chopped romaine lettuce, chopped apples, chopped walnuts, with a sweet dressing.
Woman’s Salad: Baby spinach, drained tuna, sliced green grapes, a light citrus dressing.
Be adventurous. Start with a green, add a protein, add fruits and or vegetables, add crunch add-ons in moderation, and top with a complementary salad dressing.