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Envious Greens

May 3, 2012 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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Envious Greens

I’m feeling generous today, so here you go, my mom’s coveted salad recipe: shred lots of iceberg lettuce, grate carrot on top, finely dice white onion and add it to the tower.

So far, pretty straightforward. Now for the kicker: crunch up handfuls of ketchup flavoured potato chips and drop onto the mass and then coat with Thousand Island dressing. I’m not going to lie: I used to adore this salad, and thinking about it coats me in nostalgia like the Thousand Island dressing coated the “greens.”  As an adult, I can’t quite bring myself to put chips on a salad, but my mom did introduce me to the concept that salad is more than an anaemic looking plate of plain lettuce. It’s actually something to look forward to.
Spring and summer are great times to be creative and enjoy local seasonal greens and produce. Putting together an amazing salad just takes a few steps. You can mix and match ingredients to come up with your own signature salad.

Here are some combos that I come back to time and time again. You can always make your salad a meal by adding a meat or meat alternative.  Try a piece of baked fish, a roasted chicken breast, sliced lean grilled beef, canned tuna or salmon, one or two quartered boiled eggs, a small handful of nuts or some canned chickpeas or beans (drained and rinsed).

Step 1
Pick the
main ingredient
Step 2
Compliment the taste and colour
Step 3
Enhance the flavour
Step 4
Dress it up


Mix it up: try mixed field greens, spring mix or romaine

Sliced strawberries & thin slices of red onion

Mix it up: try canned mandarin oranges & green onion

Toasted almond slivers

Mix it up: try toasted walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
Honey Poppy Seed Dressing


Mix it up: try spring mix with endive

Thin slices of fresh pear

Mix it up: try fresh or dried figs or apple slices

Grated parmesan cheese

Mix it up: try feta or goat cheese
Make a simple vinaigrette by shaking the following ingredients in a jar or tightly closed container:

1 tsp minced shallot
2 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mixed field greens or spring mix

Cooked beet wedges

Tip: boil the beets whole and then rub the peel off and cut into wedges, or peel, slice and roast them with olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper.

Mix it up: Try roasted asparagus

Sprinkle of goat cheese & toasted walnuts

Tip: keep goat cheese in the freezer if you don’t go through it quickly and then just grate it on top of your salad when you want it…it looks like snow!

Mix it up: Try toasted pumpkin seeds & parmesan

Red Wine Vinaigrette
(Leave out the oregano for this salad)
Romaine lettuce, torn or chopped

Cooked lean ground beef, sautéed onions & diced fresh tomatoes

Tip: pan-fry the meat with chilli powder and garlic (drain fat after frying)

Mix it up: try lean ground turkey or baked white fish

Grated cheddar or Monterey jack, avocado slices & canned black beans (drained and rinsed)

Mix it up: try kidney beans or sautéed coloured pepper strips

Fresh cilantro (optional)
Ripe tomatoes, sliced into rounds

Fresh basil leaves

Tip: stack alternating tomatoes and basil leaves into little towers

Mix it up: try cilantro or fresh parsley

A few capers & slivers of red onion

Mix it up: try bocconcini cheese or olives & pine nuts

 Balsamic Vinaigrette
Red and green cabbage, shredded 

Grated apple

Mix it up: try grated carrot or daikon  

Raisins and
sunflower seeds

Mix it up: try dried cranberries & celery or mustard seeds

Creamy Yogurt Dressing

Shake together in a jar or tightly closed container:

½ cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix it up: try a basic vinaigrette or Italian dressing

Salads make quick tasty meals or sides for supper at home and are easy to pack for lunch away. Try keeping the dressing in a small tightly sealed re-useable container or jar and add it just before you’re going to eat.
When eating out, check out the salad options at your favourite eateries (I like to keep the dressing on the side so I can use just the amount I need). 

Many restaurants have caught on to the fact that salads can actually be delicious and seem to be offering more and more interesting options and stand a chance of holding their ground when you answer the question “would you like fries or salad with that?” You might be pleasantly surprised.

What’s your favourite salad combination?

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