Full-meal salads are my absolute go-to during the summer months. And, with the growing trend of salads-in-a-jar, I can see that others are catching on. The secret to a perfectly balanced, full-meal salad (that will actually fill you up) is to include whole grains, protein, and healthy fats along with all those veggies. I also like to include a sweet note (such as fresh or dried fruit) and something crunchy for texture. Often foods will do double duty, such as chopped nuts providing protein, healthy fat, and crunch.
Baby- and Kid-Friendly Version: Serve each salad component “deconstructed”, in it’s own little pile. Serve a small dish (ramekin) of the dressing on the side. Or, do a make-your-own salad bar with the ingredients. There is no extra work for baby-friendly, finger-foods – just place pieces on your baby’s tray.
Protein Food Ideas:
- Beans and lentils, canned or cooked from dry
- Tofu cut into cubes or fingers
- Grated or cubed cheese
- Leftover meat and poultry, e.g. shredded chicken, sliced steak
- Chopped or slivered nuts
- Seeds, e.g. pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts
- Hard boiled eggs
Whole Grain Ideas (Starch Foods):
- Cooked and cooled pasta
- Buckwheat (soba) noodles
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Pot barley
- Cooked and cubed sweet potatoes
For inspiration, here are two of my favourite full-meal salads. You’ll notice that there aren’t amounts listed for the salad ingredients – make as much or as little as you want.
Black Bean Salad
Bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
Corn (cooked from frozen or cut off the cob)
1 TBSP Vegetable oil (I particularly like avocado oil)
1 TBSP White wine vinegar
2 TBSP Lime juice
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
Farro, cooked and cooled
Green lentils*, cooked and cooled
Kale, cut into thin ribbons and massaged with a dash of oil, vinegar and salt
1 TBSP Good, extra virgin olive oil
3 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper
* Do you have difficulty digesting beans? Give lentils a try, they’re less “musical”, and check out my tips for making beans and lentils less gassy.